It’s KNOWvember – How Well Do You Know Amy Krouse Rosenthal?

I have loved all of the ideas that our amazing picture book author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, has come up with for the Global Read Aloud.  I mean Global Random Acts of Kindness was pretty amazing!  So let’s challenge your knowledge of the author, answers will be posted and tweeted this Thursday!

1) Where does Amy live?
a. Chicago
b. New York
c. The moon

2) Amy’s dog’s name is:
a. Cougar
b. Plankton
c. She doesn’t have a dog

3) What is Amy’s favorite snack?
a. Sunflower seeds
b. Potato chips
c. Split pea soup

4) What’s her favorite place to write?
a. On airplanes
b. At her desk
c. At coffeehouses
d. All of the above

5) Does Amy have any kids?
a. Yes, 2
b. Nope
c. Yes, 3

6) What is Amy’s secret talent?
a. She can do a double back flip off the diving board
b. She can name all 50 states in alphabetical order in 17 seconds
c. She can guess your birthday with 90% accuracy

7) Where does she get her ideas?
a. From simply keeping her eyes/ears/mind open, noticing things, and thinking a lot
b. From the idea store of course

8) Why does she write?
a. Because she loves words
b. Because she loves making things
c. Because she can’t not write
d. All of the above

9) What does Amy have in common with Albert Einstein?
a. They have the same IQ
b. They both stick their tongues out in photos
c. Neither of them like wearing socks

BONUS: What are Amy’s two favorite colors?

Tweet out your answers using our hashtag #GRAAmy or share in some other way!  Answers will come this week.

New Chapter Breakdown for Fish for Global Read Aloud #GRA15 #GRAFish

Thank you to the astute María Laura Bargas who informed me that the chapter breakdown I had posted this summer was actually missing some of the chapters in it!    The chapter guide of what to read when therefore needs to be modified, so here is the new guide:

Week 5:  Chapter 8

Week 6:  9-10 – to the end

Thank you so much for catching this!

Kevin Henkes Answers Our Global Read Aloud Questions #GRA15 #GRABilly

On Saturday, a dream of mine came true when I got to see Kevin Henkes as he finished his author tour in support of Waiting, his incredible new picture book.  Not only did I get to see him speak about his process as writer, but I also got to thank him for doing anything with the Global Read Aloud.  He says he thinks it is incredible to think of all the students that are reading The Year of Billy MIller right now.

So ore than 200 classrooms submitted questions from around the world and boy, it was hard to pick, there were so many good ones.  I hope you  like the ones I picked and even more, that you like the answers he gave.  I know I did.

Question 1

Niyati Best-Paudyal from The Miami Valley School asked, “What part of the writing process do you like the most?”


Before I begin to write, I think for a long time. I think about my main character and try to envision everything about him/her. For Billy Miller I thought about Billy’s family, his friends, his school life. I thought about where he would live. I thought about how old he would be. I thought about what he would look like. I do all this before I actually write. This is my favorite part of “writing,” because there is so much promise. Anything is possible.

Question 2

Cohen in Mrs. Draper’s Class, from Oshawa,Ontario,Canada asked, “How did you find art in your heart?”


I think I was born with art in my heart. To find it, I sometimes need to be inspired. It might be a walk in the woods near my house, or a trip to a museum, or reading a book that unlocks the art and allows it to flow.

Question 3

Elaine Blanton’s Grade 2 Class from Calgary, Alberta, Canada asked, “Are any of Billy’s adventures/experiences based on your personal second grade experiences in childhood?”

When I was writing Billy Miller I tried to remember my second grade self, but more than anything Billy’s experiences are based on my son’s and my daughter’s second grade lives. My wife and I volunteered in both our children’s first and second grade classrooms once a week. So I had four years of being with first and second graders on a regular basis. This was the real inspiration for The Year of Billy Miller.

Question 4

Mrs. Trollop’s Team from Wausau, Wisconsin, USA asked; “Was it hard to become a writer? How did you get people to want to buy your books?”


I loved books when I was a boy, so it seemed natural to me to want to become a writer. I was lucky. When I was 19 years old I traveled to New York City from my home in Wisconsin looking for a publisher. Greenwillow Books offered me a contract for my first book, and I’ve been with the same publisher for 35 years. My publisher markets and promotes and distributes my books for me. My publisher gets people to want to buy my books.

Question 5

Mrs. Bartlein’s Class from Erin, Wisconsin, USA, asked, “What are you hoping others will learn by reading The Year of Billy Miller? What’s your message?”


I don’t think about what people will learn from my books. I do hope that people will like my stories, that they will be entertained. I don’t try to teach anything. I try to write engaging stories with interesting characters. I try to write good sentences. It’s as simple and difficult as that.

Thank you so much, Mr. Henkes for answering some of our many questions.

Global Random Acts of Kindness Week #GRA15


When Amy Krouse Rosenthal and I spoke this summer, she asked if she could help dream up events for the project, and as anyone would probably do, I enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”  So behold: the first idea she created.  Thank you Amy for making this world a better place for all of us.

Join us the week of October 26th – October 30th for GLOBAL RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

What do you get when you put together Global Read Aloud and Random Acts of Kindness? Global Random Acts of Kindness!  For one week, the #GRA15 community all across the globe will set out to brighten someone else’s day, be it classmates, teachers, family, or complete strangers.

Check out Amy’s videos for some inspiration:

The Beckoning of Lovely

Kindness Thought Bubble

The POETree

Pay it Flowered

Positive Pranking

What kindness will you spread?  Please use the hashtag #GRAK15 to share your ideas and acts!

Ask Kevin Henkes #GRABilly #GRA15

Imagine receiving the following email:

Kevin is so impressed with GRA15 and would love to get involved.

He’s on the final leg of his tour this week and unavailable, but he would be able to answer questions from teachers and students next week. He is not on social media or email, as you know, but might you or someone else involved with GRA put a call out for questions this week that Kevin will answer and then he can answer 5 (or so) of them the week of 10/26


So between now and this Friday, October 16th, I will be collecting possible questions for Kevin and then send them to him.  So this is your chance to have your students ask their most burning question about him or The Year of Billy Miller.  Do check and make sure he has not already answered your question on his blog, that will make my choosing the 5 he will answer a little bit easier.

The Official Global Read Aloud Map 2015 #GRA15

I finally found a way to create a map of all of the participants and the many different countries and states that are represented in the Global Read Aloud this year.  I did not do actual towns or schools, so this is only one marker per state or country, otherwise there would be about 9,000 different markers on here.  But still, just look at this!

PS:  This map is locked, sorry, but that way it will not be deleted again.

A Guest Post: On The Eve of the Global Read Aloud: Tips for Success by Ron Dorland

The Global Read Aloud is fueled by the love of so many and Ron Dorland is definitely a shining example of this.  He just published this post on his blog and I couldn’t be more thankful.  His ideas are great as is his genuine passion for making this is a great project.  I am thankful he let me share this post on here as we all prepare for the Global Read Aloud tomorrow!
For you first timers to the Global Read Aloud Project (GRA) get ready to be blown away. If done correctly you are about to improve your curriculum a million times over. Pernille Ripp has always done her due diligence in choosing thought provoking, emotionally consuming books that keep you on the edge of your seat, glued to the plot and wanting more, more, more! This year is no different. No matter what book you choose (they are all wonderful) if you place your GRA curriculum around the competencies communicating, thinking and the student, then your room is a haven for literature loving!

The one thing that takes this amazing project to a whole other level is the ability for students to communicate.  Do not treat this read aloud like a regular 1980’s novel study. If you are using worksheets, pre-made tests then you are completely dropping the ball. Instead as a teacher, do your homework and make connections. Through platforms like Edmodo, Twitter, Weebly, Kidblogs etc… it has never been easier. Don’t wait for others to do the legwork for you in terms of connecting. You are capable, so start adding teachers and classrooms now.

Once the platforms are in place let your students connect with other kids and teachers around the world, and share information and ideas about the book. Engagement, understanding and enjoyment will never be higher.  In other words students will love reading and arriving to class in the morning.  Trust me!

Here are frameworks I have set into place so my kids can get the most out of the amazing Global Read Aloud Project:

  • Connect daily reading to the child’s multiple intelligence. My grade 6 students are all in different stations throughout the room learning how they learn best…their way.
  • Set up Edmodo groups to connect students globally who are reading the same novel. Have thought prompting questions for them daily, but also allow them autonomy to have discussions with their new global friends and PLN.  (Yes each kid, like us, needs a personalized learning network.)
  • Blog, Blog, Blog. My students all have Weebly accounts where they share their learning. But what takes blogging to another level are the comments. Teacher you need to start a blog roll and have your kids comment on other blogs and vice versa.
  • Skype often.
  • Have a before or after school tea club. Kind of like a “Dead Poets Society”, where you open up in-depth novel dialogue. It is amazing how many kids will join in to talk literature. How cool is that!
  • Use digital platforms to engage and enhance. Don’t tell kids the apps but rather let them choose. For example, some of my kids want to talk about plot through an Adobe Voice and Adobe Slade presentation.
  • Have a classroom Twitter handle and hashtag. (Make sure you share the hashtag for others to see). If students have their own accounts let them tweet openly. They love it.
  • Make time to be a part of the author’s novel concluding Google Hangout.

It is the eve of arguably the most important project you will run in your room this year. Please embrace the opportunities the great Pernille Ripp has afforded us. I hope this post has given you some ideas. I will be reading “Fish In A Tree” as there is zero percent chance I would pass on a Lynda Mullaly Hunt novel. If you have not connected please don’t wait any longer. Write me a comment below or send me a message on Twitter @rondorland and I will add you to my novel contacts. The map above are the connections I made last year, and if you click here you can read a post I wrote last year on just how engaged my class was. Happy reading everyone!

Twitter and the Global Read Aloud #GRA15

One of the easiest tools to use during the Global Read aloud is Twitter.  Why?  because it allows you to share what your students are doing, allows you to connect with the authors, and also allows you to connect with others.  It is not time consuming, students all tweet throughone class account and you can still be connected to the entire project without having to connect with just one class.

So how do you use Twitter?

Here is a nice video from Howcast that explains it well.

What are the hashtags for this year?

The official hashtag is #GRA15 – this is for anything Global Read Aloud related.

My account is @pernilleripp – tag me in your tweets so I can share your tweets!

Each group has it’s own hashtags as well

  • Amy Krouse Rosenthal Picture Book study #GRAAmy
  • The Year of Billy Miller #GRABilly
  • Fish In A Tree  #GRAFIAT
  • Fish  #GRAFish
  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass #GRAYaqui

Some of the authors are on Twitter as well:

Amy Krouse Rosenthal @MissAmyKR

Lynda Mullaly Hun @LynMullalyhunt

Laura Dron (L.S.Matthews) @LauraDron

Meg Medina @Meg_Medina

Slowchat on Twitter Info:

One of the easiest ways to get connected during the GRA is to participate in the slowchats on Twitter.  You may be wondering what a slowchat is.  Well, it is a Twitter chat meant to last a week.  That means that a class will host the chat for a week and send out questions using a specific hashtag, often posting a new question every day, and then moderating the chat for an entire week.  Why do we love slowchats?  Because we don’t have to worry about having all of our students on Twitter at the same time, it allows for all time zones to participate, as well as for great conversations to unfold at a slower pace.

If you want to participate:

  • You or your class must have a Twitter account to participate
  • See the lists of hashtags so you know which one to use
  • During the week, answer the questions, ask your own and connect.
  • You don’t have to sign up anywhere, just participate when you want.

What will the hashtags be?

The hashtags will be the official hashtags followed by the number of the week, so for example for Fish In A Tree it would be #GRAFIAT1 #GRAFIAT2 etc dpending on the week we are in.

There are slowchats for all of the groups with classrooms moderating (sending outt he questions) each week.

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you have any more Twitter hints for the Global Read Aloud.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) just came out!