Sunday, April 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Jen Vincent at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye and Ricki Ginsburg at Unleashing Readers cohost It's Monday! What are You Reading? weekly on their blogs.  To see what others are reading and recommending each Monday, or to participate, be sure to head over to these blogs.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper is a complex story set in North Carolina in 1932, as African Americans were registering to vote in hostile and dangerous environment. This book not only tackles historic themes of struggle, oppression, and racism, but also universal themes such as struggles with learning, empathy, and personal responsibility. With an engaging plot, Sharon Draper pulled me right into the fear, frustration, and anger of Stella's family, giving a personal look at the struggles for basic human rights that people endured in our country. 

I attended a conference in Boston put on by the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Because Bryan Collier was one of the presenters, I read some of his books over the weekend. Uptown Bryan Collier's first book, was inspired by The Snowy Day. This book contains repetitive language and strong images of Harlem. Collier's collages are beautiful and launched his career as an illustrator. 

Because The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats served as a mentor text for Uptown, I brought it home from the library and reread it. The simple language and drawings remain powerful, even after years of sitting on library shelves. It's fun to read these two books side by side and find the inspiration that Ezra Jack Keats' work provided to Bryan Collier.

 Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier was available for purchase at the conference and will be available in another couple of weeks in bookstores. It is an autobiography, telling the story of Troy's musical development in New Orleans. The words and language are lyrical, the images are memorable, and the collages are beautiful. This is another great book to add to collections of resilience, growth mindset, and perseverance.

Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill  and illustrated by Bryan Collier is one of my new favorites books. Based on the true story of a slave named Dave who made over 40,000 pots during his lifetime, it is a wonderful example of narrative nonfiction. The amazing teachers at The Classroom Bookshelf have collected and mined an incredible collection of resources to add depth to inquiry lessons you can teach through this amazing story. 

Happy Reading!


  1. Wow! - Such incredible texts. We can't wait to read Trombone Shorty and Uptown. We love Bryan Collier was inspired by The Snowy Day. Kids love hearing how real authors read like writers too.

  2. This is an amazing collection of picture books. I am a long time fan of Ezra Jack Keats so will try to get my hands on Uptown and the rest of them!

  3. I love your combo of Uptown & A Snowy Day, Melanie, will have to find Uptown to read it. I'm still reading A Snowy Day to the grand-girls. I have Stella-need to read it! And isn't Dave The Potter wonderful? What an extraordinary life! Thank you!

  4. I love Bryan Collier. Trombone Shorty has such a great cover--can't wait to get that one. I didn't realize that Uptown was inspired by Snowy Day. Now I'm going to have to get both books and reread together! I read many of Ezra Jack Keats's books to my sons a couple of years ago and they hold up beautifully! Really a timeless quality to art and writing.

  5. Hi there Melanie. I featured Dave the Potter a few years back and really fell in love with both the story and the text. So much Bryan Collier love here - it's awesome. I will definitely have to find Trombone Shorty. I have a collection of PBBs on musicians and I think this one would be a great addition. I have yet to find Stella - sounds like a must-read.

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