Monday, November 12, 2018

Week 10 PBID Question

Last week many of you recognized the style of the illustration before you knew the answer. That's awesome! Maybe you thought, "That sort of looks like Buzz from Fly Guy, but Mr. W. said it wasn't Buzz. Who wrote the Fly Guy books? What other books has he written?" And that sent you on a search for other books by Tedd Arnold so you could find the answer.

Maybe you will do the same for this week's image. This illustrator's work is very distinctive. Matter of fact, there are several of this person's illustrations hanging in my office right now!

On to the question!

This girl is a big fan of her brother's work. What is her brother's name?

Share your answer by leaving a comment below. All comments are published the following Monday.
Sign up for email notifications, and follow #PBIDchallenge on Twitter for updates. Thanks!

Week 9 PBID Answer

Monday, November 5, 2018

Week 9 PBID Question

Okay, okay, I think this question might be a tough one. (I think it might be hard, but you guys surprise me every week!) Just in case, I'm going to give everyone a clue right away. Ready? Here is your clue:

This picture is not Buzz. 

Does that help or only make it more confusing? Good luck!


Why did this boy use all that tape on himself?

Week 8 PBID Answer

Monday, October 29, 2018

Week 8 PBID Question

Several students have shared how helpful the second graders were in answering questions these past two weeks. I'm sure there will be some first and second graders who know this one right away, but I'm wondering if there are some older students who remember reading about this guy. We'll see!


Who are the two characters that live next door to this dog?
BONUS: What is the dog's name?

Week 7 PBID Answer

Monday, October 22, 2018

Week 7 PBID Question

The second graders proved to be a valuable resource for last week's question. A number of first graders caught me in the hall to say that the second graders helped them find the answer. Nice cooperation! Let's see how helpful those second graders can be again this week!


What is this man's name? 
BONUS QUESTION: What is he yelling?

Week 6 PBID Answer

Monday, October 15, 2018

Week 6 PBID Question

It has been cold here in Wisconsin this past week. It has also been raining a lot and last night it even snowed! In the middle of October! (Which is early even for us here in Wisconsin.) Everything is soaked. Which leads us to our question for week 6 of the Picture Book Identification Tournament.


This girl didn't just come in from the rain or snow, and she didn't fall in a lake or a puddle. Why does she look all drippy?

(If this is a tough one, you might want to check with some second graders.)

Week 5 PBID Answer

Monday, October 8, 2018

Week 5 PBID Question

From a question about a  man in a hat to a question about a boy wearing a crown. Where should we go next? Hat ... crown ... How about shoes?


Who wears these spectacular boots?

Week 4 PBID Answer

Monday, October 1, 2018

Week 4 PBID Question

Last week's question was about a hat, so I thought we'd take the next step: from hat to crown. That sure is an impressive crown worn by this young king, and he has a spectacular scepter to match! But our question isn't about his crown or scepter. It's about this king's commands. 


This young king declares that a specific activity should start.
What is that activity? 

Week 3 PBID Answer

Monday, September 24, 2018

Week 3 PBID Question

Fall is upon us and cooler temperatures are sure to follow. (Or, depending on where you live, those cooler temperatures have already arrived.) Nevertheless, whether for cooler temperatures or pure style, sometimes a person needs to wear a hat. Here's a fantastic one: 


By what name do readers know the person wearing this hat?

Week 2 PBID Answer

Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 2 PBID Question

Here we go with week 2 of the PBID challenge. You might recognize the image and know the book immediately, but can you answer the question? Don't forget, it's not cheating to find the book and read it again. That's why you have a week to share your answer!


What does this animal see?

Share your answer by leaving a comment below. All comments are published the following Monday.
Sign up for email notifications, and follow #PBIDchallenge on Twitter for updates. Thanks!

Week 1 PBID Answer

Monday, September 10, 2018

Week 1 PBID Question

Welcome to Week 1 of the Picture Book Identification Challenge! We're going to start with a well known picture book, one many of you will recognize pretty quickly. Good luck, and here we go!


This character needs to leave and asks readers to watch things for him until he returns. Then he tells readers, "Oh, and remember..."
What does this character tell readers to remember?

Share your answer by leaving a comment below. All comments are published the following Monday.
Sign up for email notifications, and follow #PBIDchallenge on Twitter for updates. Thanks!

An Introduction to the PBID Challenge

Friday, September 7, 2018

The 2018-2019 Picture Book Identification Challenge

Last year, classrooms, teachers, and students in our school district were invited to participate in the Ultimate Character Tournament, an optional, district-wide program for all elementary classrooms to determine our students’ favorite children’s book characters. (There was also a public vote.) The character tournament is taking a hiatus this year, but another program is taking its place. And just like last year, it’s open to the public!

So to all you teachers, students, librarians, parents, book-lovers, and random website visitors, welcome to …

The Picture Book Identification (PBID) Challenge!

Here’s how it works: Every Monday, starting September 10, an image from a picture book will be posted here on Help Readers Love Reading along with a question. Here’s an example.


This boy thinks he should move to a new country. What country?*

Can you identify the book? The character? Can you remember why he has that grumpy look? Maybe you know all of that but just can’t remember that he wants to move to … that other country. That’s okay. Go look. Go get that book and find the answer.

Once you have the answer - or your best guess - share it by leaving a comment. Click “comments” below the post or use the comment form at the bottom of the page. However, all comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

The following Monday a video will be posted that reveals the answer, tells the title of the book, and includes a short talk about the book. At that time all the moderated comments will be approved, and everyone’s answers will appear in the order they were given. That way the answers stay hidden until the official answer is revealed.

That’s it! Check back every Monday for a new question, last week’s answer, and to see how well everyone is doing in the PBID Challenge.

To help keep track of new images and questions, sign up for email updates using the form on the right at the top of the page. Enter your address, check the “I’m not a robot” box in the new window that appears, and make sure to follow the directions in the verification email you will receive. (Teachers in my district, this is the only way I will contact you about the challenge, so if you want to participate, please sign up for email notifications.)

You can also follow @HelpReaders on Twitter and Instagram, and watch the #PBIDchallenge hashtag on social media. Just be sure to check back here every Monday morning during the 2018-2019 school year to see how you do in the PBID Challenge! 

*Answer: Australia. From the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Ultimate Character Tournament 2017-2018

The K-1 Public Vote Results.
If you follow me on Twitter, by now you will have seen tweets about #TheCharacterTournament. There have been brackets, voting updates, results, and even requests for your votes. Some people have asked questions about the "The Ultimate Character Tournament" as we're calling it for our students, and I realized I never explained what it's all about. Se let's give it a try...

The Idea: How It Started and Why
The character tournament started simply as a desire to increase engagement and excitement about reading with my elementary students. That sounds fancy and all, but basically, I just wanted something fun. At first I focused on my school, but the idea quickly expanded to include all kindergarten through fifth grade students in all eight elementary schools in our district. (And has since grown to include YOU! See below.)

The Ultimate Character Tournament, as the idea became, originally featured sixty-four characters from children's books in a seeded tournament bracket, but was eventually pared down to three divisions (K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) with sixteen characters each.

The Characters: How were they chosen?
Last May I asked elementary students and teachers in our district what characters from their reading really stood out to them from the school year. What characters were truly memorable or continued to come up in class conversations? I made some silly YouTube videos about characters, asked teachers to share them with their students, and then email me a brainstormed list from their class. I made a master character list from this straw poll including tallies of how many times each character was mentioned at each grade level.

The final list of characters came mostly from that list. Characters from popular series were given higher priority. After all, if my goal was to use characters to motivate readers, I wanted to make sure students had ample opportunity to spend time with those characters. Fly Guy, Elephant & Piggie, Jack & Annie, Greg Heffley, and Fone Bone are not only popular but are featured in multiple titles. Characters from books teachers used with students, especially read aloud titles, were also given higher priority.

The Process: Brackets and Voting
Characters were seeded based on how often they were mentioned in the straw poll, and special care was taken to ensure the best match-ups happened in later rounds. I also didn't want characters from the same book meeting too early. At the same time, some characters made perfect first round match-ups (I couldn't resist Poppleton vs. Mercy Watson in round one!).

Character lists were provided for teachers early in the year along with various promotional materials. Teachers were encouraged to introduce their students to the characters. In many cases this happened naturally. Most characters are from books that are popular year to year, and many are from books that teachers read aloud and use as mentor texts.

Voting started with K-1 after Christmas break and has progressed one round each week. Every Monday I record a video of the previous week's results and a preview of the current week's match-ups. Each week teachers take a class vote and then submit one classroom vote for each match-up. Voting is done via Google forms.

The Hope: Engaged readers
The goal of the character tournament was to create a buzz about books. By asking students and teachers which characters resonated with them, I hoped to capitalize on the reading that teachers and students were already doing.

Some teachers are using the tournament as the basis for persuasive writing. I've seen a class run out of Fly Guy books, and I negotiated a peace treaty that involved partner-reading an in-demand Ricky Ricotta book. I received a letter from a student, sent by his teacher through intercampus mail, complaining that his favorite character wasn't included. (He's a third grader, but Greg Heffley is in the 4-5 division.) Some first grade students were reading aloud to toy versions of the characters.

One might argue that students are reading the same as they were last year, but there's an added layer of engagement. There are discussions, books are being shared, and letters are being written. Students are becoming more aware of what they like to read, why, and are able to explain (and argue for) their preferences.

And Finally: I Need Your Votes!
As part of my professional development this year, I am running a public character tournament on Twitter that coincides with the one in our district. By asking for votes via Twitter, the majority of the public respondents will be teachers, librarians, and people who love children's books. Admittedly, this is an unscientific study, but the results should be interesting nonetheless. Who will our students choose? Who will adults choose? What are the differences? And how do our preferences affect the reading done in our classrooms?

Voting has already finished for the K-1 division, but the 2-3 division is just starting and 4-5 will start in April. Follow me on Twitter and watch #TheCharacterTournament for updates and weekly match-ups.

And don't forget to vote! Ballots are available on Twitter. Thanks, everyone!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

Most seventh graders believe they live in the most boring town in the world. Ask one. Or maybe they have already offered that information freely. Chances are their middle school qualifies as the nucleus of their ennui. The flat-lined heartbeat of boredom.

So people like Carson Fender do things like release fainting goats on the school’s front lawn or seal every door in the school with glue. You know, ennui-free sort of activities. Sometimes, however, the break to boredom comes from an outside influence.

That’s what happens to Carson. Just as hundreds of fainting goats are dropping on the front lawn, a panicked man in a black business suit hands Carson a nondescript package. “Take this,” he insists. “Guard it with your life; the fate of the world depends on it. And whatever you do, don’t open it!” He tells Carson to deliver it to Mr. Jensen and Mr. Jensen only. Then he rushes off, chased by two gun-toting guys in painted white faces. They stuff him in a black sedan and take off.

After this incredible chain of events, Carson is brought back to reality and sent to the principal’s office on goat-related offenses.

So now Carson must not only navigate his school punishment, but must also decide what to do with the package. But really, is there any question for a middle-schooler? He opens it and activates the LCD screen inside. It immediately starts a 48 hour countdown to self-destruction since Carson is “an unauthorized non-Agency user” according the device’s voice. Forty-eight pressure-packed hours to locate Mr. Jensen and deliver the package.

Carson suddenly finds himself in a world of secret agents, two of whom are teachers, in a secretive, non-government organization known only as the Agency that works against spies and terrorists. Carson accepts a role with the Agency and is given codename Zero. Agent Zero’s role involves classmates, terrorists, other Agents, and the ultimate challenge of keeping everything quiet, all while remaining an unassuming seventh grader.

After a long set-up, the action really gets rolling in Chris Rylander’s follow up to The Fourth Stall Parts I, II, and III. Chock full of everything you’d expect in a novel full of secret agencies, readers will be quickly hooked and ready for the foreshadowed sequel. (Countdown Zero: The Codename Conspiracy releases on February 3, 2015.)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

So there’s this fuzzy purple guy and he’s just standing there. And then this taller fuzzy orange guy comes and he’s all like pointing at the purple guy and he says, “You are small.” He even has this pointy-down mean eyebrow look on his face.

Well then the fuzzy purple guy, he denies it. He says, “I am not small.” Then he totally turns it around on that orange guy and says, “You are big.” 

Take that, fuzzy orange guy!

Well then of course the fuzzy orange guy, well, HE denies it with an “I am not big.” Then he gets this smug look on his face like he knows something the purple guy doesn’t know, and he says, “See?” and points behind him. And there’s like four more fuzzy orange guys and they’re just as tall as him!

Hoo boy, that purple guy gets all grumpy but now he’s got like fourteen fuzzy purple guys with him all of a sudden and they’re the same size as he is!


And now I’m totally expecting Dallas Winston to come running in and yell “Don’t you know a rumble ain’t a rumble without me?!?!” and the book to go all The Outsiders on me ‘cause these fuzzy dudes is getting ANGRY! They’re yelling about being big and small and then . . .


Another fuzzy guy shows up. A blue guy, and he’s HUGE. And then there’s more fuzzy guys. Pink guys, and they’re little pipsqueaks. So now the little guys are actually big compared to the pipsqueaks and big guys are mini-fuzzy dudes next to the new blue guy who is so huge you can only see his legs.

Perspective. It sure can change an argument.

Okay, I’m not sure where that review came from, but that is how the book goes. There’s an argument about size, and both sides of the argument are correct until another perspective is presented. Sometimes we are small. Sometimes we are big. It just depends on who you’re standing next to. Isn’t that what makes the world interesting? Variety?

Kids will love the way the argument escalates without ever really becoming threatening to young readers. (These are just fuzzy blue and orange guys, remember.) The text is perfect for partner reading just like the great Elephant and Piggie books or Duck! Rabbit!, and the ending will lead to plenty of discussion.

And possibly (hopefully!) a sequel.