I wrote “Help Me Learn Addition” to help kindergarteners and other young children keep up with today’s Common Core Math Standards in Mathematics for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Grade 1. To help children learn, the book offers beautiful playful photographs by Chad Phillips and rhymes by me to help children, parents and teachers be successful in the learning/teaching process.
Click here for great reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist: http://jeanmarzollo.com/books/help_me_learn_addition.html
I wrote this book because Grace Maccarone, my editor and friend at Scholastic, asked me in 1995 to write an easy-to-read science series. “I’m a Seed” was the first title. Grace and I liked to share stories about our children. She told me one day that as she was driving her daughter and her daughter’s friend one day, she was listening to them talk about their respective summer vacations. If one said she had done something wonderful, the other one said she had done something even better. This went on for a while until the kids got bored and moved on to another topic. For some reason, their conversation came up in my mind when I started the book about seeds. I gave them kids’ voices and even had them compete a little. Kids can be different, and seeds can be different, too. As one seed says at the end of the book, “There should be a name for it.” To which the other seed says, “There is. It’s called life.”
Two seeds in the soil are speaking to each other. “I’m a seed!” they both say. One knows it’s a marigold, but the other doesn’t know what it is. Each plant grows leaves, then flowers, and when the mystery seed grows big and round and orange, the riddle is solved. The clever text weaves facts about plants into the story, and the beautiful collages show a host of wildlife for readers to identify. This is a wonderful introduction to a plant’s life cycle.
I wrote this book to help kids read; still, I was amazed to watch this kindergarten boy read I SPY LETTERS in May 2013. I SPY LETTERS (and I SPY NUMBERS) have more text than the other 8”x8” paperbacks so I thought LETTERS and NUMBERS would be better suited for first grade. But not for this kindergartner in May, especially with his classmates right there sitting close on the rug to help him. The word “jewels” was sounded out and enjoyed as a fun new word. Afterwards, I asked the teacher, who had not seen this book before, when she would use it next year. “Each time we study a new letter,” she said.
I liked seeing how the boy rested the paperback book on the easel. That made it easy for him and the class to see the words and pictures. (The words show up better in real life than they do in my photograph.) The word “bright” is hard to sound out, but interesting to compare with the word “kites.” “Bright” and “kite” rhyme but are spelled differently. What other words sound like them? Which ones are written like “bright?” (night, tight, light, fight, right). Which ones are written like “kite?” (bite, white). Why did Walter Wick pick the other objects in the photo? Kids love the way he decorated the letters.
I wrote this book to teach beginning readers about caterpillars. It’s a good thing I did my research. Because when I started, I thought that butterflies made cocoons. Not true! A butterfly makes a chrysalis. A moth makes a cocoon. So, if you write about science, please always do your research. Collage artist Judith Moffatt made the beautiful pictures out of paper. My favorite picture is the one of the caterpillars eating a leaf. This is what I wrote for that page:
No more food.
I’m a Caterpillar was honored with the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s Gold Seal Best Book Award
Also in Spanish at:
For the full list of book in my Scholastic Reader Level 1 Science Series:
I wrote this book to celebrate young black girls, who years ago didn’t often get a chance to star in picture books. I had a fantastic editor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and she selected a brilliant illustrator, Shane Evans, to illustrate the series. You can google them to follow their wonderful careers. Disney did a TV series based on Shanna, and I loved it. But until recently I never knew that the TV series was made available in Spanish. Then someone sent me this link. I clicked and watched with great joy - and now happily I send it to you.
Click to play it now!
A Kindergarten teacher in Missouri sent me this note, along with two fabulous photos:
In kindergarten, we use the Shanna series by Jean Marzollo and Shane Evans every day. The stories are short and fun to keep the young children’s attention, but they are long enough to develop an actual plot (which is often lacking in kindergarten level books). We use this series to teach comprehension concepts such as plot, character, and setting. Each story line has a very different plot, and while the books have many of the same characters, they are often present on different pages, which make these books a great literary tool. The books also help teach the concept of setting to kindergartners because the characters move around to various parts of the house, causing the setting of the story to change. Children can get a more firm grasp on the concept of setting if they understand it is deeper than just “inside” or “outside”, but the setting can be a living room in the afternoon, or the kitchen at night-time.
This 8”x8” square paperback edition of the I Spy Little Animals board book is great for helping Pre-K, Kindergarten and Grade 1 children increase their vocabulary and learn to read. The kids are helped to read by various clues: the pictures, the pattern of the text (“I spy” starts every page), the rhythm, the rhyme, and beginning phonics skills that they are learning. Also memorization. First time through, you can read it aloud to the child. Second time, see if your child can help you read it. The third time will be easier, and after that, well, you’ll see. Never pressure your child. Keep in mind that this is an I SPY book, beautifully photographed by Walter Wick, and that the game is to find the objects.
This kindergarten reader read “I spy a fire hydrant” with no problem. That’s because she lives in a city where there are fire hydrants. She “read” the picture. That done, a parent or teacher could encourage her to sound out the letters that made those two words and also look for the word “ant” in “hydrant.” Another child who doesn’t live where there are lots of fire hydrants can learn two new vocabulary words from this page. Learning new words and reading them is fun for kids with this I SPY book because, after all, they are playing the I SPY game. Can you find the kitty cat?
For the entire selection of I SPY books, visit www.jeanmarzollo.com.
As we get ready for Teacher Appreciation Week which begins May 6, please remember not to let the currently popular political teacher bashing get you down. Please know that so many people know how hard you work, how much you care, and what an excellent job you are doing. What you do is so important. Thank you!
I encourage non-teachers to think about ways to show your appreciation for your children’s teachers.
Volunteer to lend a hand, or provide crayons, pencils and paper to your child’s classroom.
I loved writing the story of the famous scientist George Washington Carver’s childhood interest in plants, and I was thrilled when Holiday House bought my text and signed up Ken Wilson-Max to illustrate it.
The Little Plant Doctor was published in 2011. My story is non-fiction and was checked by Ranger Curtis Gregory at the Carver National Monument in Missouri. In writing my story I took the creative liberty of having the narrator be a tree, a special tree that George Washington Carver wrote about. The tree narrator is why I decided to blog about this book on Arbor Day this year: April 26. Arbor Day is the day we celebrate trees, often by planting new ones.
For more information on The Little Plant Doctor, click this button:
Marzollo’s gentle biography of botanist Carver is told from the perspective of a tree that bears witness to his early fascination with plant life. Wilson-Max paints Carver’s childhood garden with broad, smudgy shapes and thick outlines, as Carver laments that he isn’t allowed to attend school with white children. But after studying plants and learning to read, he goes off to school and makes a name for himself. Publishers Weekly
Jean Marzollo introduces children to a great scientist and encourages them to cultivate a sense of wonder and a desire to explore … Bright, bold illustrations by Ken Wilson-Max underscore that science and learning are fun! Goodreads
The Little Plant Doctor is an interesting addition to the collection of children’s books about George Washington Carver. This is the first narrative I have seen about his childhood. I like the text level in that it will be accessible for first and second grade students who are just learning about biographies. NC Teacher Stuff
Earth Day Rap is a musical rap that invites kids to read and sing along. I had lots of fun painting the pictures. My very talented musical friends Stacy and Art Labriola provide the music along with help from kids Stacy teaches. Ask the kids you sing this with to figure out what the red dot is at the end of every Bless You chorus. (Answer: it’s a clue to pause, or for more fun: clap.)
To play Earth Day Rap, you need a device with Flash. That means that Macs and PCs are usually good, and handheld non-Mac devices should play it, too. Earth Day Rap won’t play on iPads and iPhones. If you are a teacher or librarian, it won’t play if your school restricts you from viewing Flash files.
The lyrics for Earth Day Rap are adapted from my picture book Home Sweet Home.