Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Something to Talk About...

In light of the fact that several of my recents posts have centered around oral language, I think it’s time to create a list of books that most definitely will give kids something to talk about.

This past weekend when I presented an in-depth session at the 21st Annual Literacy and Learning Institute in Melville, Long Island, I was lucky enough to hear Carmen Agra Deedy deliver the Saturday keynote. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone quite like her. A storyteller in the best sense of the word—entertaining and yet, at the same time, provocative! So of course I just had to ask folks about her children’s books that were for sale. “Which of these would you recommend I buy?” Well, The Yellow Star won hands down and I can see why.

It’s the legend of King Christian X of Denmark who, as legend has it, is attributed with saving Jews from concentration camps by wearing a yellow star himself and inspiring other citizens to do the same. And while this is a legend, it’s one that remains strong because we so desperately want to be true. Agra Deedy posits: “What if the good and strong people of the world stood shoulder to shoulder, crowding the streets and filling the squares, saying, ‘You cannot do this injustice to our sisters and brothers, or you must do it to us as well.’ What if?” I say this book and its message will certainly give kids something to talk about.

Another book by Carmen Agra Deedy that I purchased was Martina the Beautiful CockroachI know…The Yellow Star is so noble and inspirational and this one’s about a cockroach…?  Well, don’t judge a book by its cover or its protagonist. Even a cockroach, as this Cuban folktale will attest, can teach kids about going deeper to find out what a person is really like. (Would your friends pass the Coffee Test?) Martina is fun, witty, and sure to get kids talking. 


  1. Thank you Sharon... I am off to Barnes and Noble, list of books in hand. I stumbled on your blog and am so grateful. I wonder if they have Comprehension From the Ground Up? Fingers crossed... if not Amazon is a click away. I needed this "Shot in the Arm."
    A really big fan...

  2. I, too, have had the privilege of hearing Carmen Agra Deedy speak about her writing, and another fabulous book she wrote is 14 Cows for America, a true story of a young man from a village in Africa whose village responded to the U.S. in a very personal way after the 9/11 attacks. I highly recommend it as well!

  3. i'll definitely put it on the list. sensational speaker and writer!

  4. Sharon~
    Thank you so much for the running list along the side, it's a great resource! Just a couple off the top of my head...I love Charlie Anderson by Barbara Ambercrombie & Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting for inferring with my first graders.