Literature to Inspire…picture books

Last weekend I attended a wonderful early ed. montessori conference, Children Change the World in Calgary, Alberta.  Inspiring presenters, dedicated teacher attendees, and superb organization all contributed.

Here is the reading list for my Literature to Inspire Program. It’s weighted to younger readers, but many of the titles are suitable for older children too, so read, share, enjoy, and continue to add wonderful books that you discover to this reading list.

Sheryl’s Literature to Inspire Reading List


*** Here is a broad selection of picture books that will round out any library but be sure to keep adding more titles


Fairy, Folk, Myth 

a) Modified Traditional

Rapunzel byPaul O. Zelinsky

The McElderry Book of Aesop’s Fablesby Michael Morpurgo

Greek Mythsretold and illustrated by Marcia Williams

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

How Raven Stole The Sun by Maria Williams, illustrated by Felix Vigil

The Dragon’s Pearl by Julie Lawson, illustrated by Paul Morin

b) Fractured Fairy Tales

The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs! By A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Dog Tales by Jennifer Rae, illustrated by Rose Cowles

c) New Tellings Dressed in Old Forms

Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals and Beastly Fables by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

War and Peas by Michael Forman

Doing it Write: Books that engage readers

a) Wordless Wonders

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Window by Jeanie Baker

b) Draw and Tell

Draw-And-Tell by Richard Thompson

Tell and Draw Stories by Margaret J. Olson

c) Puzzle Books

Animalia by Graeme Base

Twelve Ways To Get To 11 by Eve Merriam, illustrated by Bernie Karlin

d) Feel or Find Books

Look-A Likes Jr. by Joan Steiner

A Pod of Orcas by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin

Perfect Poems

a) Chanting Charms

Gifts by JoEllen Bogart, illustrated by Barbara Reid

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

What’s That Sound? In The City

What’s That Sound? By the Sea

What’s That Sound? At the Circus

What’s That Sound? On the Farm by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Kim LaFave

Did You Say Pears? By Arlene Alda

b) Building Refrains

This is the Dog by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Chrissie Wysotski

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz

c) Rhymes Without Reason: Nonsense Rhymes

Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Barry Moser

The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss,

There Were Monkeys in my Kitchen! By Sheree Fitch, illustrated my Marc Mangeau

d) Prose Pleasers

Going to the Fair by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Sheena Lott

Moonsnail Song by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Sheena Lott

Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Ron Lightburn

Me and Mr. Mah by Andrea Spalding, illustrated by Janet Wilson

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: books about the past, the present and the future

A) Past Perfect

In Flanders Fields by Linda Grandfield, illustrated by Janet Wilson

Belle’s Journey by Marilynn Reynolds, illustrated by Stephen McCallum

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain by Monika Kulling, illustrated by Dean Griffiths

Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner

b) Present Tense

Mile-High Apple Pie by Laura Langston, illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner

No Two Snow Flakes by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Janet Wilson

That Magnetic Dog by Brue Whatley

Jessie’s Island by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Sheena Lott

c) Fabulous Fantasy

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

d) Playful Possibilities

Giraffe and Bird by Rebecca Bender

My Sister Gracie by Gillian Johnson

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeanie Baker

Student Additions

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw

Red is Best by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Robin Lewis

My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards, illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel

Mole Music by David McPhail

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Play, Mozart, Play by Peter Sis

Pete the Cate: I Like My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean

Peter and the Wolf  by Sergei Prokofiev, illustrated by Charles Mikolayck

Musical Max by Robert Kraus




#kidlitcares: the hashtag behind the initiative: dozens of people and organizations are auctioning off publishing and author-related items and services to support Sandy victims.  The Kidlitcares auction is the brainchild of US kids’ author Kate Messner. The second round of the auction will be hosted on Toronto author Joanne Levy’s website beginning NOVEMBER 12. Auction items include critiques from top int’l editors and agents, signed copies of books by popular authors, and school visits from famous and not so famous children’s authors. For example, author Helaine Becker will be donating a school Skype visit and author/editor Bev Rosenbaum is offering a manuscript critique, so please bid generously through Joanne’s website.

Dragon Boat Super Sprints…come watch

If you are in Victoria this weekend and you love dragon boat racing, come cheer us on at the Gorge Super Sprints.  We are the VCKC United Dragon Boat Team.  It’s  a fundraiser for the MS Society, so don’t forget your wallets!

Times Colonist Book Sale for Literacy

Do you live in or near Victoria?  Do you love books?  If you answered yes then hurry on over to the TC book sale.  There will be something for every taste, and the proceeds go to support literacy in our community.

The sale is both today and tomorrow at the Victoria Curling Club on Quadra Street near Caledonia.

Blue Horse Charity Auction for Arts Education

If you believe in and want to support art education and you have some wall space in need of the perfect piece, look no further than the Blue Horse Charity Auction where original works by Eric Carle, Mo Willems, David Small, Leo and Diane Dillon and numerous other talented picture book artists works are up for bid.  The pieces are a tip of the hat to Carle’s new book, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse where Carle pays tribute to the painter Franz Marc.  The book and the auction pieces are a celebration of artistic inspiration and mentorship.   The profits will fund arts education in public schools in the US through grant programs run by the NEA Foundation.  Bidding is under way so don’t wait too long.

Reaching More Readers—The Book and Beyond…

Reaching More Readers—The Book and Beyond SPONSORED BY: Orca Book Publishers with School Library Journal EVENT DATE: Thursday, October 20, 2011 – 3:00-4:00 PM EDT Reaching struggling readers has always been a challenge and that is truer now than ever before.  Find out how new books, approaches and  technologies can work for you in assisting and connecting with struggling readers.Panelists include:

Sigmund Brouwer is the best-selling author of many books for children and adults. As a tireless presenter with his Rock and Roll Literacy Show across North America, Sigmund knows first-hand what it takes to reach a reader.

Tori Jensen is a high school Library Media Specialist in St. Paul, Minnesota and past-president of the Minnesota Education Media Organization

Denise R. Lyons is Director of Library Development for the South Carolina State Library.

Andrew Wooldridge is Publisher at Orca Book Publishers and editor of the Orca Soundings series of teen novels for reluctant readers.

Moderator: Rocco Staino is the retired director of the Mary I. Keefe Library at the North Salem School District, North Salem, NY and is a past president of the New York Library Association. He is currently the chair of the Empire State Center for the Book and a contributing editor for School Library Journal.

***If you are not able to make the live webcast of Reaching More Readers—The Book and Beyond, register now and you will get an email notification from School Library Journal after the event when the webcast is archived and available for viewing at your convenience.

Follow us on Twitter! @SLJEvents
And be sure to follow the conversation for this event: #reachmorereaders

Eleven Tips for New Writers

Eleven Tips for New Writers

1) Write…just do it.  Stop talking about it and get a first draft written, one page at a time.

2) Read.  Everything…the award-winning, the inspiring, and books on the craft and business of writing

3) Join a writer’s group, either on-line or local.  If you can’t find one, start one.  

4) Keep a journal for notes, inspirational  quotes, useful blogs,websites, books & authors

5) Work on your craft,  this is a never-ending process… there’s always always more to learn. 

6) Once you have a completed first draft, edit.  

7)Then edit some more.  Edit as many times as it takes to create a polished manuscript.

8) Research the market.  

9) Write a killer cover letter

10) Send your manuscript out to the most appropriate places. Do not, I repeat, do not send your manuscript everywhere.  If you do, you will be wasting everyone’s time (including your own).

11) Ignore your mailbox (or email inbox) and repeat steps 1-10.

Proceeds from a children’s book, Sock Wars will support Raise-A-Reader

The loss of a child is a difficult thing for any family, but the Christensen family of British Columbia have chosen to remember their son and brother, Jonah by raising funds for children’s charities.   The Make-A-Wish-Foundation and Canuck Place (a  pediatric hospice that provides palliative care children and support for their families) are two charities that have benefited from this family’s admirable efforts to cope with their grief by supporting others in need.  Since Jonah’s dad was a magician, it was a natural to raise funds through magic shows.  This year, the family has expanded their fundraising efforts to include a children’s book inspired by Jonah’s playfulness.  Sock Wars is the story of a sister and brother who have fun even before the chores are done.  Written by Jonah’s twelve year old sister,  Hannah Christensen and illustrated by Erika Quiroz, this charming picture book is as joyful as it is heartfelt.  This year, the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Raise-A-Reader, a children’s literacy program that has raised millions in a little over ten years.

You can read an on-line version of  Sock Wars but don’t forget to boost literacy in BC with a generous donation.

Anonymous paper sculpture in support of libraries

Friend Margriet Ruurs alerted me to an article in The Guardian about these anonymously created paper sculptures left for libraries and book festivals in the UK.  What a wonderful idea.  They are beautiful, delicate, and amazingly creative works of art created from books about books and their importance in our world.  Here’s a pic of my favorite.

“The cup on the top has a swirl of words which read ” Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really good BOOK”

The other sculptures are just as cool, so be sure to check out The Guardian article with photos.  What a creative soul.  So the challenge is, come on Canada (especially Toronto where they want to  privatize libraries) lets get creative about our support for books and libararies!.

September 8 is International Literacy Day

Happy International Literacy Day! Today is a great day to celebrate literacy, but also to reflect on the riches that being literate has brought to each of us, our families and our communities.  Of course it’s a great day for those of us who want to celebrate, but what about the one in five adults who aren’t literate?  And what about the 67.4 million children who don’t have the chance to attend school?  There are so many ways to support literacy in your community with programs like “Raise a Reader”, nationally through organizations like ABC Life Literacy CanadaLiteracy USA and internationally via UNESCO and CODE.   If we all do a small part to give others a chance to celebrate life with literacy, we’ll make our world a better place.

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