Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? How-To Books!

One of my favorite Monday morning routines has become checking out the links at to find out what other bloggers are recommending to read. I have many saved pages that I return to whenever I am at the library or bookstore. Feel free to join with your book recommendations.

During the summer, our district offers a week long Writing Academy with a theme or a specific genre for children entering second through sixth grades. This year, we will be studying and creating how-to books. To prepare for, I have been looking for and reading how-to potential mentors. I'd welcome recommendations, but so far some of my nominations are:

How To Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan

 I read this one over the winter and at first, I wondered if it would be too abstract, since it is not clearly procedural as cookbooks and science experiments are. However, I keep coming back to it and I think that it would be a useful mentor text to show children how they can write about a person within a how-to construct.

How To by Julie Morstad
Thank you to Carrie Gelson for bringing this one to my attention. The publishing date is May 30 and I have been exploring all of the previews that I can find on line with five copies in my shopping cart. How to wonder, be brave, and see the breeze are topics that are described. I can't wait to see how it inspires children.

How To Make Bubbles by Erika Shores is one of the Puffin Plus series of procedural writing and it is perfect for teaching younger students how to be explicit in their how-to writing. Great pictures and clear, simple language should work really well to inspire our younger students, especially.

Because I am envisioning some video making during the summer, I searched youtube for videos that might go along with some of the book activities. I can't wait to try showing them: : a video about making bubbles

Another video I watched to go with this unit is about blowing a bubble with gum and the format is exactly what I hope that some of the students create since the narrator goes through clear steps and descriptions, including some warnings! a video about how to blow bubbles

TIP: If you insert the word quiet before a youtube link, the ads disappear!

I have a few cookbooks and craft books that we will use as well. If there are particular favorites anyone has out there, please share!

Over the weekend, I have been working my way through the first of the new Units of Study from Teachers College that arrived this week. Talk about amazing how-to books. Each grade has its own set of spiral bound books that accompany writing units. From Scenes to Series by Mary Ehrenworth and Christine Holley is in the first grade collection and it contains nineteen sessions that describe workshop instruction. I am loving the language, work samples, teaching tips and resources that are included. As I've been reading this book, I have been keeping track of some of my favorite lines and descriptions and I will share them in a post that I am planning for later this week.

Happy reading, everyone!


  1. I love your theme. Great mentor texts for How to writing.

  2. All of these titles are new to me. They sound perfect for the unit you're planning. Thanks for sharing, Melanie!

  3. I'll have to keep these in mind when the language arts classes have to do presentations where they describe how to do things. I'm sure we could check out any number of how to books from the public library; just hadn't occurred to me.

  4. All of these sound like great books to use in this context. Thanks for the tip about You Tube videos!

  5. Lovely theme! I guess I got my copy of How To! early I suppose as Morstad is a Vancouver writer/illustrator so must have been published in Canada first! It's in my 3 favourite bookstores. First in Canada - that is a first! I think you will LOVE it when you have it in hand . . .