Waiting in the library for my daughter to finish a study session, I read a few new picture books. My favorite of the day was The Cat with Seven Names by Tony Johnston. I am not a cat fan, so I can't even tell you why I chose this book from the shelf, but I am so glad I did! A well-fed cat visits a wide assortment of people throughout the story and the vignettes of his adventures are all mentor texts in and of themselves. It would be an incredible mentor for teaching voice, since each visitee narrates and this cat visits children, homeless people, non-English speakers, retired librarians... The final message of this story is that of inclusion, acceptance, and a celebration of humanity. If you see this book, pick it up and enjoy!
Harold Finds a Voice by Courtney Dicmas has a somewhat less subtle message than The Cat with Seven Names--the voice Harold finds turns out to be his own. However, the story line is adorable, and if you are looking to teach young writers to get sounds into their writing, then this is the mentor text for you!
I wish that I had seen Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka before our summer writing academy when we focused on how-to books. This is a wonderfully create book on the complexities of learning to ride a bike, complete with special tips, lists, step-by-step instructions, and short narratives.
Professionally, I was excited to get my hands on Lee Teitel's newest book, School-Based Instructional Rounds, because the fifth chapter focuses on my hometown's school district. I admit that Chapter Five was the first part of the book that I read, but then I also read the first chapter and the final section. There is so much information in this book about how to get teachers into other teachers' classrooms in ways that foster dialog, reflection, and professional growth. Teitel includes charts, documents, and other resources that educational leaders can use right away in order to facilitate instructional rounds within their districts and buildings.