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I’m Trying to Love Spiders: A Review & Giveaway

When my principal handed me a copy of Bethany Barton’s I’m Trying to Love Spiders, I was intrigued.  She had chosen this book as our Everybody Reads title for the month and I was wondering why.  I mean, who would try to love spiders?  Ew.

I was immediately impressed with both the colorful illustrations and the inviting text.  Bethany Barton takes the reader on a fact-filled journey as the narrator tries to make amends with this “totally gross” arachnid.  At first read, the facts seem to play second fiddle to the hilarious illustrations and interactive nature of the text.  I was too busy laughing to learn anything.  However, a second reading soon revealed a great deal of important information about spiders.  (Did you know that spiders use venom to dissolve their dinner so they can slurp it up?  Ew again.)

I don’t always trust my own grown-up opinion when it comes to picture books.  I prefer to take it to the experts: my own children.  That evening I took the book home and read it to my three-year-old and six-year-old daughters.  Then I read it again.  And again.  They couldn’t get enough.  By far, their favorite feature was the different pages on which a spider appears and the narrator encourages you to “Smash It!  Squish It!  Get it right now!”  There is even a page where you are encouraged to pet the spider.  Can you pet the spider without squishing it?  You’ll have to turn the page to find out.

This book is my new go-to mentor text for teaching information writing, especially to children in the primary grades.  It is infused with facts in the most fun and engaging way possible.  It is the perfect anchor text for teaching voice in the information genre.    Additionally, there is so much other teachable craft inside this book:

  • text placement
  • short sentence fragments
  • pictures and diagrams to explain
  • labels
  • content-area vocabulary
  • use of punctuation

Just take a look inside the book to see the amazing text placement and illustrations:

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Click on the image to enlarge.
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Click on the image to enlarge.

 

What kid wouldn’t love this book?

For the sake of not writing a spoiler, I won’t give away the ending.  Maybe, just maybe, it is possible to love spiders.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of I’m Trying to Love Spiders.  Many thanks to Penguin Group for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of I’m Trying to Love Spiders, please leave a comment about this post by Thursday, January 21st at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Monday, January 25th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Penguin Group will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – (Book’s Title). Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment.  Carrie’s number was selected, so she will receive a copy of the book.  Here is what she wrote:

Spiders, not my favorite, but this book looks like a winner! Can’t wait to share with my students so the age old misconceptions about spiders can be solved.

 

 

Dana Murphy View All

Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer

120 thoughts on “I’m Trying to Love Spiders: A Review & Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. I already commented but want to add a few more notes. First of all, I confess that I bought the book immediately after reading this review, unable to wait to see if I might win a copy. I’m so glad I did–It was fantastic to use during our Opinion Writing launch while we discussed facts and opinions. I’ve already shared it with many colleagues and we all love it! Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention!

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  2. Thank you for this great post! I am a literacy coach and as such, I have some best friend go-to books that I continually use. I am always looking for new titles to share with my colleagues and I’m excited to get my hands on this one!

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  3. I love the idea of choosing to write about something you don’t already love…taking time to investigate a topic that at first seems a little scary or disgusting! The third graders I teach have strong feelings about spiders and it would be interesting to have them do a bit of opinion writing before and after reading this book.

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  4. Love new nonfiction that helps to push thinking. Really loved Oh Rats! for exposing me to a new level of learning-looks like this one might be in the same league!

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  5. I can’t wait to share this title with my colleagues as well as include it in the Library for the kiddos to use. I believe that it will not only make a great mentor text like you said but the kiddos will want to read and reread this again and again. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. How fun! In February, we write love poems for Unloved Animals like in the book VULTURE VERSES — a poem for spiders always makes the list! This would be a terrific mentor text indeed! Thank you for this giveaway!

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  7. Oh my goodness! I have two staff members at my school who need to read this book! I actually do love spiders and try to get my students to be curious about all creatures and not afraid! I love the way the text is laid out on the page and the colorful, creative illustrations will be so engaging for my students. I will have to buy this one….

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  8. We’re so busy studying nonfiction and creating our own nonfiction books this month, this would make a great addition to our mentor text selections.

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  9. What fun! Wouldn’t this make a great mentor text for informational writing? Hmmm… I can see this now. Thank you to you for highlighting this intriguing book and to Penguin for making the giveaway possible. I always find myself adding to my TBR list when I read your posts!

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  10. I love knowing another text to use to help kids understand what it means to write with voice. It also sounds like this would be a good text to demonstrate how information authors write with a certain perspective.

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  11. I love what you said about this book being a mentor text for using voice. I’ve found that the best way to help students understand voice is give them lots of examples. It sounds like this could also be a good mentor text for information authors writing with a particular angle. Thanks for sharing about this book!

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  12. Just sharing this post because of how she found out about the book:) Her principal chooses a picture book each month and buys it for each classroom in her school and puts it in each teacher’s box with an explanation of why she chose it:) She calls it Everybody Reads-and it’s a way to build community, language, and relationships across the school…maybe you could do a book a semester?!

    Lee Motley Literacy Coach BA Elementary Education, MEd Elementary Education Rocky Creek Elementary School 821-4183 *http://rces.lexington1.net/ *

    *Lexington School District One Landing Page: https://sites.google.com/a/lexington1.net/lexingtoncorecontent/?pli=1 *

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  13. Thank you for sharing the book, and more importantly for me…the fact that your principal is the lead learner of your school! Mine is that way as well, and I am excited to pass this on to her to possibly start doing! What a great way to build community amongst your teachers and students as well as supporting learning!!!

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  14. My 2-year old daughter is fascinated with bugs of all kinds! She would love this! My high school students would think it was pretty cool, too.

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  15. This book seems like a must have for classroom and school libraries. We are in the middle of our first grade opinion writing unit and this book would be a great mentor text. I am teaching abroad so I appreciate the book updates. When I’m back to the US this summer I’ll be sure to pick it up!

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  16. We have lots of spiders in our school (even black widows!!), so my kids would really love this. And it seems like the perfect text for teaching information writing to 2nd graders!! Although….I’m pretty sure I still won’t love spiders! 😉

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  17. I’m ineligible for the giveaway (for obvious reasons), but felt compelled to leave a comment on this post. This is a book we’re going to have to buy at home. Not only for the mentor text reasons, but because Isabelle and I are NOT fans of spiders. Maybe this book will help (a bit).

    BTW: Have you seen Elise Gravel’s Disgusting Critters Series? I have a feeling they’d be a great companion to this book.

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  18. Okay, I am not a spider fan either, but it sounds like this book might help me with my fears! I know that I would appreciate the opportunity to use this book with teachers and students!

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  19. I had a student last year SO afraid of spiders, I had to put all my spiders books in hiding for the year as he shook and cried if he even saw the cover of one. I’d love to share this book with him now that he’s a year older…just to see. I’m wondering if the illustrations might work for him.

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  20. What a fabulous mentor text for informational text reading and writing. The unique aspect of the text features in this book would give 3rd-4th graders much to want to emulate in their informational text writing. Thanks for making it possible for a couple us to be up for “…Trying to Love Spiders”. I’m excited for the opportunity.

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  21. I think spiders are cool. When my husband and I were first married, we had a pet “Charlotte” outside our door that spun the most beautiful webs. I looked every day for a “word.” Kids would love this book.

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  22. Aren’t we all! Trying to love spiders, that is! The cross-curricular ideas that sprout from this book are endless! I’d love to add it to my collection.

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  23. This book would be a great way to engage reluctant writers in writing non-fiction genre. A different way to present the facts. I need to add this book to my collection.

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  24. What a neat book about spiders! I know the boys at my school will go NUTS for this book…They lover everything creepy and crawly. I love when great mentor texts are shared!

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  25. This book could also be paired with the classic Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte is a hero, and a true friend, and a writer, even if spiders do not have a general appeal!

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  26. Perfect timing as I’m working with 2 teachers on informational writing, and one of our concerns is how to make their writing show voice rather than just listing facts they have researched. I’ll certainly be happy to win this, but if not, I’ll purchase it anyway as I think kids would love it, which is the first step in mentoring their writing, and there is so much to teach from!

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  27. I could try to love spiders, but I’m not sure it would work even if I read this book! Could you please explain your school’s Everybody Reads program? I’m intrigued! Thank you!

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  28. Thank you for the recommendation. I can’t wait to read it with someone little. I love that you don’t trust yourself with picture books and leave it to the connoisseurs to determine their value! Way to go!

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  29. Isn’t it amazing what informational writers are doing to engage young (and older) readers. I’ve heard about this book and it’s already on my wish list. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Victoria, my principal chooses a picture book each month and buys a copy for every classroom. She puts a little note in it explaining her choice and giving suggestions for talking points. Each classroom in our K-6 reads it and adds it to their classroom library. It gives us all a common anchor text to refer to in our reading and writing work. She calls it Everybody Reads.

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      • What a wonderful way for a principal to be engaged with the children and teachers in her school. In all of my years in various teaching roles in elementary schools, I never had a principal do that.
        Hats off for a top flight job!

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  30. I have had my eye on this book! It is on my want list in Amazon! I know so many kiddos who would be intrigued discovering ‘Why’ they need to love spiders:)

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  31. I love how informational books have helped me change my opinion about certain topics. For example, bats. I can’t wait to read, I’m Trying to Love Spiders!

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  32. Spiders, not my favorite, but this book looks like a winner! Can’t wait to share with my students so the age old misconceptions about spiders can be solved.

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  33. I look forward to sharing this book with my K, 1st and 2nd grade teachers! The pictures look great and the kids will want to have it reread to be sure they learned all the interesting facts about spiders!

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  34. My 5th graders just created their own uniques narrative nonfiction writing pieces about an animal of their choice. They wrote as scientist in Antartica reporting on penguins, as explorers researching pandas and one student shared her information about wolves in daily Facebook posts. We presented in TED Talk style. More mentor texts show them the variety of creative ways authors share information. They are the seeds of possibilities. Sharing their newly acquired knowledge while fostering their creativity is the way I love to teach and the way they love to learn.

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  35. Thanks for sharing another option for a nonfiction mentor text. I wonder how my 4th graders might use this as a mentor text to help them develop informational writing around animal adaptations or even the American Revolution. Love the creativity!

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  36. Wow! What a fun way to present informational writing! Just from the two example pages you can see how it would be such a great example of authors voice

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  37. As an instructional literacy coach, I am always looking for inspiring ways to get students to see the connection between reading and writing. This book sounds like it could be a great addition to our informational writing units!

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  38. I discovered this fantastic little book while on a field trip to the public library. There are SOOOOO many ways this book could be used as a mentor text, time after time, but mostly, to enjoy reading of a fun story that we can all relate to! Thank you!

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  39. This looks like a book that would be a smash in kindergarten. We’re preparing to begin our non-fiction unit in reading and in writing, and this would be “the tie that binds”. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

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  40. Thank you this post. Your blog always stimulates thoughtful questions. Mentor texts are powerful for teaching writing and this one is a beauty! Love that it is non fiction. Would love to win but if not, it is still a must have:) #shelfietalk Kim.stewart@nbed.nb.ca

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  41. This book looks and sounds inviting in every way! I was just chatting with a 6th grade teacher yesterday about how to get her students to make their information writing more personal and engaging. I’m Trying to Love Spiders would be a fabulous mentor text for that purpose. The illustrations are beautiful! Thanks for sharing, I’d love to add this book to our mentor text collection.

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  42. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book, Dana! I know it would be a huge hit with my first graders. We’re just finishing our non-fiction unit and I’m lamenting the fact that I didn’t have this to use as a mentor text. Fun, engaging, informative= win! Thanks so much for sharing this title. I’d love to be entered in the giveaway contest, but regardless of the outcome, I will definitely be adding this book to my library.

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