SOLC 2014: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Another double-duty Slice for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Coral Reefs, by Seymour Simon (Harper, 2013)


This is a gorgeous book, filled with stunning photographs of one of the earth’s most fragile ecosystems. Coral Reefs gives young readers a thorough overview of the “gigantic communities of living things.” (pg. 6) Simon describes the different types of coral, what they eat, and where they’re found in the world. The “many different kinds of citizens” of a coral reef are also described.

The close-up photographs are captivating and kids will want to pore over them for hours. An index is included, as are a glossary and links to websites with additional information. This book would make a nice companion to the more fanciful but just as informative Coral Reefs by Jason Chin.

I’ve also been enjoying the poems collected by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books, 2014). Dozens of the best poets writing for children today have contributed to this volume. The poems cover a broad range of scientific topics, from scientific practices and lab safety to famous scientists and future challenges, and everything in between. (Although there wasn’t one specifically about a coral reef.)


Wong and Vardell begin their informative introduction with the question “Why poetry with science?” To make their case, they quote legendary author and educator Bernice Cullinan:

 “Scientists observe with a clear eye, record their observations in precise, descriptive language, and craft their expressions. Poets do the same thing.”

Also included are tips for sharing the poems and connections to the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, the following resources are included:

  • a bibliography of poetry books for science
  • links to websites and blogs, for both poetry and science
  • a list of professional resources
  • a “mini-glossary of science terms”
  • title, poet, and subject indexes

This book is a must-have resource elementary teachers working to integrate literacy into their science instruction. Student editions are available by grade level and include bonus poems.

Several poems from the anthology have been shared on blogs over the past week. Jone at Check It Out has “Sound Waves” by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater:

If you have ever seen the ocean

throwing cold waves from her hand

pulling shells from mighty depths

tossing each upon wet sand,

you can understand how sound waves

move like water through dry air.      

(Read the rest of the poem here)

You can also read poems from each grade level at Irene Latham’s blog, Live Your Poem…

Finally, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I have to give a shout-out to my favorite book to share on this day, Daniel O’Rourke (Viking Kestrel, 1986), by Gerald McDermott. Sadly, it seems that this tale of Daniel O’Rourke’s misadventures at the hands of three mischievous leprechauns is out of print. My own children loved this story when they were small, and dozens of my classes over the years have laughed along as Daniel is taken on a wild ride by the legendary pooka.

Our copy, signed by the author to my youngest son.
Our copy, signed by the author to my youngest son.

Thank you, as always, to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Don’t forget to visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers to find out what other people have been reading lately. Thanks, Jen and Kellee, for hosting!

8 thoughts on “SOLC 2014: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

  1. I think we must have the Seymour Simon at school-will look. We always have different students choosing coral reefs for their unit topics. I’m loving the new anthology too, Catherine-such a great resource. And thanks for your favorite St. Pat’s book-so cute!


  2. I think that I have tow favorite Irish movies. One from my childhood: Darby O’Gill and the Little People. A Disney classic in my opinion. Later on in life I found The Quiet Man – a John Wayne classic.


  3. I haven’t seen this Seymour Simon title but now will be on the lookout. I just bought Jason Chin’s title and plan to read with my class soon. We have been reading a number of books about oceans. Thanks for a lovely post!


  4. Thank you, Catherine, for a lovely post! You are right: we should’ve included a poem about coral reefs. The closest we get would probably be: “Tide Pool” by Jane Yolen, “Tropical Rain Forest Sky Ponds” by Margarita Engle, and “We Need Green Seaweed, also by Margarita–or one of the other ocean-themed poems by Leslie Bulion. I’ll bet students will be inspired to write their own poems on coral reefs after reading (or even just seeing) the gorgeous pages of the books you mentioned!


  5. I am really intrigued by the Poetry Friday Science Anthology – I hope to get a copy of that too, as I believe it would be a wonderful additional text to a lot of Science teachers here in Singapore. The Coral Reefs book also looks great. 🙂 Have a lovely reading week!


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