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Picture Book: Climbing Kansas Mountains by George Shannon (Aladdin 1996)
A great story for reminding kids to see the beauty in what is around them. This tale of a father and son ascending a grain elevator (the only type of “mountain” in Kansas) is full of peaceful illustrations and vivid imagery. The story is so simple, but powerful and I love that it shows such a loving moment between father and son. Enjoy this book with your students when they need some quiet time during this frenetic season of testing and spring fever.

Chapter Book: Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic (Random House 2008)
There are plenty of books out there that feature toys who “come to life”. The thing that makes this book about a plush stingray, a stuffed buffalo, a bouncy ball and the other toys who live in a little girl’s room so special is that the toys have such honest voices. The toys, even the minor players, each have their own distinct personalities, but students will find it easy to see themselves in these characters. The wonderful thing about this book is that it is truly appropriate for all elementary school students. Great as a read aloud, I have often thought that this would be the perfect book for an entire school to read together. It would be a comfortable independent read for higher level third-fifth graders and there are two more books about the loveable characters (Toy Dance Party and Toys Come Home).
 

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