Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair

Posted by Becca Ross on Sep 6, 2016 3:30:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here for more posts from her or check out her blog!

It’s the fair season and I can hardly wait to visit our local fair! The Evergreen State Fair is just a few miles from my school and a lot of kids will be going. This is the perfect opportunity to help kids activate their schema about the fair and animals, let them engage in retelling with some fun props, and read a book featuring one of my favorite characters… MRS. WISHY-WASHY!

Sharing Our Schema

Many of my students will have just gone to the local fair by the time we start school, so Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair from the Joy Cowley Collection will be the perfect book to introduce the idea of schema.

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When I introduce schema, I start by telling the kids that our brains are like a big filing cabinet. Everything we read, experience, or observe goes into that filing cabinet. I use the example of hot air balloons because we live by a hot air balloon field. I tell the kids that I’ve read books about hot air balloons and I’ve filed that information away. I’ve seen hot air balloons taking off and landing, which I’ve also filed away. One thing I have never done is ride in a hot air balloon. I don’t have schema for that, but someone else may and that is what makes our schema different from one another.

Back to the concept of the fair, I ask the kids to tell me what they know about the fair to activate their schema before reading the text. More specifically, we focus in on the competitions they have at the fair. Some kids in our area participate in 4-H and may be able to share exactly what the animal competitions are all about. After we’ve activated our schema and shared things we know about animal competitions at the fair with our classmates, we’re ready to read the book. I usually stop during reading and ask the kids if they have schema to add.

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Retelling With Props

A few plastic animals, a spray bottle, and a plastic bin (so water doesn’t get everywhere) are all you need to create this retelling station. Some kids will be able to easily pick up the props and start reenacting the story, talking out loud as they go. Other kids will quietly spray an animal but won’t tell the story out loud. This is a great opportunity to jump into playtime and listen, model, and encourage. Adding some of the language in the story and talking with kids about the meaning behind different words is a great idea as well.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy is always a favorite character in my classroom with my kindergarten students. I imagine this year will be no different. I can’t wait to hear about my students’ fair experiences and share Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair with them!

Happy reading!

~~~

To learn more about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and see Joy Cowley's books, you can click here to visit our website or click the Joy Cowley Collection series image below to download an information sheet with key features.

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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Becca Ross, Farm Fair

Guided Reading Tips: Meanies in the House

Posted by Becca Ross on Aug 9, 2016 3:30:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here often for more posts from her, or check out her blog!

Have you met the Meanies? My kindergartners absolutely LOVE the Meanies series from the Joy Cowley Collection. I recently found that there are new books featuring these fun characters. It's time to start stocking up on some new Meanies books for my classroom!

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The kids think these books are ridiculously funny. There is usually a rhyming element to the books and this makes it easy for the kids to chime in.

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Meanies in the House is a super-fun book that the kids are going to love!  Teachers will also appreciate that the end of the book has suggestions for how to use the book before, during, and after reading.

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Before Reading

Before the reading, the book suggests asking the children what a "mess" would look like in different rooms in the house. This activates their schema for messy places and helps them relate to the story a little better. I would use this book after a few other Meanies books had been introduced and ask the kids to predict what types of messes they think the different Meanies characters might make in a house. This is also a good time to introduce new vocabulary words in the story such as scattering and tappy.

During Reading

We can use prior knowledge from the reading we have done of other Meanie books. Have kids predict if there is anything they think the Meanies might be scared of.

After Reading

When the reading is complete, kids love to talk about the book. We can ask the kids to talk about the evidence they see in the story that the Meanies were making a mess. We can infer why we think the Meanies are especially scared of Grandma.  We can also dive into the meaning of words in the story. Many young readers might not know what phrases like run for cover might mean.

I can't wait to use my new Meanies books in the classroom. I think these books are great to use as guided reading books in small group instruction, but they are also awesome to use in whole class lessons. I would highly recommend using a document camera and projecting the books onto a large screen or using a big book for whole class instruction.  This book is great and I can't wait to share it with my kiddos when school starts up!

~~~

To learn more about the Meanies and see Joy Cowley's books, you can click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights images below to download an information sheet with key features.

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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Becca Ross, Meanies

5 Ways to Use Mrs. Wishy-Washy for Guided Reading

Posted by Becca Ross on Jun 23, 2016 4:39:20 PM

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This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here often for more posts from her, or check out her blog!

If you teach Pre-K through 2nd grade, I'm sure you're familiar with the beloved Mrs. Wishy-Washy. Twenty years ago, when I first started teaching, I had many of the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books. I had big books for whole class lessons and six-packs for small group instruction. Many of the books were purchased with a grant from the school, so when I moved schools I couldn't take the books with me. My new school didn't have the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books so I started looking for them online. Much to my dismay, the company that I had purchased them from previously had been bought by another company and I couldn't find the books!

For the past several years, I've been teaching with the few Mrs. Wishy-Washy and Meanies books that I own. (If you aren't familiar with the Meanies books, Mrs. Wishy-Washy makes a cameo appearance.) One day, I was browsing through some of my favorite literacy blogs and spotted a post about Mrs. Wishy-Washy! The books looked slightly different than my 20-year-old copies, and appeared to have a new publisher, but I was THRILLED to have found my favorite character again! Now I get to tell you all about why I love Mrs. Wishy-Washy!

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The book that I would like to share with you today is called Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Wash, written by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller-Fulton. I'll start by telling you about the story: Mrs. Wishy-Washy is a bit obsessed with cleanliness. She likes things just-so. When it was time for the farm animals' “wash day,” she was out of water and they had to search the town to find some. Now that you have an idea of what the book is about, here are my favorite five ways to use these books for guided reading:


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  1. Onomatopeia

     I chose this book as my first to share with you because my kindergarten students absolutely LOVE onomatopoeia and I knew this would be a favorite. If you aren't familiar with onomatopoeia, it refers to “the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of a sound associated with it” (Merriam-Webster). It's a game-changer when introduced during kindergarten Writer's Workshop. The kids love adding "sound words" to their writing, and I suspect that they just love saying the word “onomatopoeia” every time they notice it being used in a story.

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  2. Teacher’s Notes

    Another great thing about this book is that it has “Teacher Notes” at the back... hello, Guided Reading groups! The back page of the book gives the teacher suggestions for before, during, and after reading, and also has suggestions for making meaning, analyzing the text, and taking things to the next level. They call this Cracking the Code, and point out rhyming and compound words. 

    In my previous school district, we had an entire room dedicated to storing our Guided Reading books. Unfortunately, my new district does not have the same resources. Last spring, I described the steps of a Guided Reading lesson to a teaching partner, and we wished our books had a tool like this embedded into them.

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  3. Group Lessons

    I'll tell you a couple of different ways I would use this book in my ideal world. I love using big books in my classroom because kids can actually see the text and the illustrations, even if they are sitting at the back of the rug. One way to use this would be to do a whole group lesson with the big book version of the story. I would still use some of the before, during, and after reading ideas, but I would spread it out over 3-5 days of instruction. I love reading half of the book on the first day and saving the other half for the second day. Kids absolutely beg for the second half of the story! By day 5, most of the kids are reading along with the big book and they are also able to read it on their own during our literacy stations.

  4. Guided Reading Groups

    Another option for using this book, in my ideal world, would be to purchase six-packs of the small versions of the books to have on hand for Guided Reading groups. The before, during, and after reading Teacher Notes at the back are set up perfectly for small group instruction.

  5. Other Text Features

    Any way you read this book, I love the text features you can point out. Punctuation, rhyming words, onomatopoeia, and compound words are part of our everyday instruction in kindergarten.

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    I'm so happy that I've found Mrs. Wishy-Washy again and I can't wait to share some really fun ways to use these books in the classroom or at home with your little literacy lovers!

    Happy reading!

    ~~~

    To learn more about Mrs. Wishy-Washy and see Joy Cowley's books, you can click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights images below to download an information sheet with key features.

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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Becca Ross

Teacher Bloggers Weigh In on Joy Cowley's Newer Characters, Pt. 2!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 6, 2016 2:04:00 PM

As part of our celebration of Joy Cowley during this year's incarnation of our yearly Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway (click here to enter BEFORE APRIL 14th, if you haven't already!), this year we had a group of teacher bloggers weigh in on some of Joy's lesser-known characters. We wanted to know, from an educator's perspective, what there was to say about these characters and the books that they are featured in. Our first batch of blogger posts came out on March 23 and you can see those here. Today we have an all-new batch of posts from different bloggers, giving more perspectives—some on the same characters, and some on different ones! If you want to know more, read on for a listing of where you can see these character reviews and some ideas for using these books in your classroom!

 

JC4_US_Barbie_WildLamb2-contest.jpgBarbie the Lamb and Mr. Whisper

Mrs. Price's Kindergators 

Learning Is For Superstars: Post 1 and Post 2

Learn more about Barbie the Lamb and Mr. Whisper!


Huggles and the Gruesomes

Primary Teaching Resources

JC4_US_Gruesome_Song-contest.jpgThird Grade Bookworms

Kreative in Kinder

Learn more about Huggles and The Gruesomes!

 

Hairy Bear and Miniboy

Filling the Frame with Learning

Learn more about Hairy Bear and Miniboy!

 

Smarty Pants and Mr. Tang

Tales of a First-Grade Teacher

Beach, Sand, and Lesson Plans

Learn more about Smarty Pants and Mr. Tang!

  

We also created a brand new set of packages featuring only these newer characters, in case you had all the old favorites and wanted to bolster your collection with these fun newer guys! You can find the new character set here, and the guided reading version with six-packs of each book here!

I'd like to give a special thanks to all of the teachers who participated in this year's giveaway and character review! We love having the perspectives of educators and being able to share them with the wider educational and literacy communities!

If you are a teacher with a blog and would like to be considered as a contributor, either to our weekly blog postings or to be involved in our next contest, email tara@hameraypublishing.com and let us know how you'd like to participate.

— Tara

 

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Contests

Teacher Bloggers Weigh In on Joy Cowley's Newer Characters, Pt. 1!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Mar 23, 2016 6:15:19 PM

As part of our celebration of Joy Cowley during this year's incarnation of our yearly Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway (click here to enter, if you haven't already!), this year we had a group of teacher bloggers weigh in on some of Joy's lesser-known characters. We wanted to know, from an educator's perspective, what there was to say about these characters and the books that they are featured in. Our first batch of blogger posts is in! If you want to know more, read on for a listing of where you can see these character reviews and some ideas for using these books in your classroom!

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Hairy Bear and Miniboy

Searching for Teacher Balance

Reading Toward the Stars

Laugh, Eat, Learn

Learn more about Hairy Bear and Miniboy!

 

Smarty Pants and Mr. Tang

Busy in Kindergarten

Learn more about Smarty Pants and Mr. Tang!

 

Sloppy Tiger and Oscar

Maggie's Kinder Corner

Swamp Frog First-Graders

Storytime Secrets

Learn more about Sloppy Tiger and Oscar!

 

  

We also created a brand new set of packages featuring only these newer characters, in case you had all the old favorites and wanted to bolster your collection with these fun newer guys! You can find the new character set here, and the guided reading version with six-packs of each book here!

I'll be posting the next batch of teacher blogger posts soon as our busy-bee teachers return from their spring breaks and test the books out on their students! Keep an eye out for the next update. :)

If you are a teacher with a blog and would like to be considered as a contributor, either to our weekly blog postings or to be involved in our next contest, email tara@hameraypublishing.com and let us know how you'd like to participate.

— Tara

 

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Contests

Classic Post: Using Mrs. Wishy-Washy to Teach Character and Setting

Posted by Elizabeth Hall on Jul 24, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This classic post was originally published in September 2013. If you like what you see here, check out Elizabeth's other posts!

Elizabeth Hall, the author of some of our guest blog posts, brought our attention to a video she made a couple of years ago with the original Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, showing how you can use Mrs. Wishy-Washy books to teach character and setting.

The original Mrs. Wishy-Washy has been a favorite since 1980,  and our Joy Cowley Collection features six newer stories with Mrs. Wishy-Washy that are perfect for this type of exercise.

six mrs wishy washy books

Do you have fun Mrs. Wishy-Washy ideas you'd like to see featured on our blog? Click here to tell us all about it!

Want more information about the Joy Cowley Collection books? Click the image below to download an information sheet with highlights and key features!

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Joy Cowley Early Birds, Videos, The Joy Cowley Collection, Elizabeth Hall

Using Joy Cowley's Books to Practice Literacy Skills—FREE Download!

Posted by Susanna Westby on Nov 8, 2013 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets, Reader's Theater masks, and MORE! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas!

Hello! I am Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’d like to share with you examples of how I use Joy Cowley books in my class to practice many different literacy skills.

In my experience, it’s a common practice for teachers to read a book with the class, perhaps do one reader-response activity and then move on to another book. But there’s so much more to be gained from digging a little deeper—even with very short books. For example, here are six examples of the activities I use with my Grade 1 and 2 class when we shared the book Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Big Farm Fair.

1. We begin with a “picture walk” through the story. By looking at the pictures, we can gather inferences, make predictions, share previous knowledge, and prepare for the ideas and vocabulary ahead. We also get a sense of characters and setting, which we will revisit later. 

Next, we read through the book together while it is projected on the whiteboard. I can then model how to track the words and can reinforce several reading strategies. As we go along, I will ask for help from the students. I find this to be a very valuable activity, as it resembles a small-group guided-reading lesson, only with the whole class involved. On the page shown below, I posed the simple question: “What do you notice?”  A student has pointed out that there are different ways to make the “long E sound,” so I have invited her up to circle the words.

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2. Next, we review the story together, retelling the events in order. This particular book was perfect for creating a simple sequence of events without becoming too complicated for them to explain. We then used this simple template to cut apart and glue back together in order on a different paper.

Joy Cowley Unit Susanna Westby 300

3. Next, we review the previous discussion about setting and characters during the picture walk. This time we expand our discussion to talk about the problem in the story and how it was resolved. This particular book was perfect for introducing these concepts. Students demonstrated their understanding by completing this graphic organizer.

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4.  My students loved Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s list of rules! We compared them to our own class rules, followed by a funny activity exploring opposites/antonyms. We imagined what would happen if Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s rules were the opposite instead, such as: “Be Dirty. Be Messy. Look Untidy. Smell Stinky.” Students used their own words to complete the work.

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5. My students fell in love with the animals in this story! They loved how the animals grumbled while being washed, and they all had personal stories about washing their own pets. We used this opportunity to relate the text to students’ own experiences. Students wrote about the steps involved in washing pets at home using this template.

6. Dramatic play is an effective way to understand stories more deeply. We begin with a simple labeling activity as shown, then turn the worksheet into paper puppets to act out the story in pairs or small groups. Students enjoyed this so much that I later created paper masks of each animal so that students could act out the story that way. Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s costume was a simple scarf.

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As you can see, even a short book can offer a wealth of learning experiences for the whole class.

I have included the activities, including the paper masks, as free downloads. I hope your students enjoy them as much as my students did, and that they inspire you to make the most of the books you share in class!

~~~

My name is Susanna Westby, and I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

~~~

Download your free Joy Cowley unit with worksheets, Reader's Theater masks, and more—just click the worksheet image below! For more information on the Joy Cowley Collection of books, click here to visit our website, or click the image on the right to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, The Joy Cowley Collection, Susanna Westby

Using Mrs. Wishy-Washy to Teach Character and Setting

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Sep 25, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Elizabeth Hall, the author of one of our recent guest blog posts, brought our attention to a video she made a couple of years ago with the original Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, showing how you can use Mrs. Wishy-Washy books to teach character and setting.

The original Mrs. Wishy-Washy has been a favorite since 1980,  and our Joy Cowley Collection features six newer stories with Mrs. Wishy-Washy that are perfect for this type of exercise.

six mrs wishy washy books

Do you have fun Mrs. Wishy-Washy ideas you'd like to see featured on our blog? Click here to tell us all about it!

Want more information about the Joy Cowley Collection books? Click the image below to download an information sheet with highlights and key features!

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Joy Cowley Early Birds, Videos, The Joy Cowley Collection, Elizabeth Hall

Big Books and the Common Core: Read-Alouds and Shared Reading

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Sep 23, 2013 9:13:00 AM

The Common Core State Standards require students to be exposed to more complex text at earlier grades than previous standards required. One way to scaffold students to these more challenging reading levels is to make use of read-alouds and shared reading sessions.

Beginning in kindergarten, students are expected to "actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding" (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10: K). Often in the form of read-alouds, these group reading activities may be some students' first contact with reading; sadly, not every family reads at home. As an introduction to literacy, read-alouds give children an example of what fluent reading sounds like, introduce them to new vocabulary, and familiarize them with the format of the genre being read (informational text, literature, etc.).

Joy Cowley Collection Big BooksBooks chosen for read-alouds are generally at the uppermost, more challenging end of grade-level text. They should, at first, be slightly out of the ability range of the average student, giving them a first exposure to more challenging vocabulary and more complex sentence structure.

For shared reading, the books used should be solidly at grade level. The example you set with your own reading, as the students follow along, provides the guidance they will need to read grade-level text with purpose and understanding (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1–5.4a).

Additionally, presenting students with information orally is a key requirement of preparing them to meet Listening Strand standards (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2). In kindergarten through the second grade, there is particular emphasis placed on evaluating students' ability to absorb information imparted through read-alouds.

Big Books are a helpful prop for both types of group reading activities, as they give students something to focus on. For read-alouds, in which students are listening to the story but not reading along in their own handheld books, the large, visible words expose the students to the text, so that they will be more likely to recognize the words when they come across them on their own.

For shared reading, the visual cues provided by the Big Book especially aid struggling students, who may have lost their place—they can easily and discreetly identify which page the rest of the class is on and catch up to their peers. All students, including those who are performing at grade-level, will benefit from the example of fluent reading and the opportunity to match the text in front of their eyes with the words they hear, increasing familiarity and making connections.

Another way that Big Books can be helpful in the classroom is as a visual prompt for activities. If you have an informational text Big Book, you can ask students to point out the key informational text features, coming to the front of the class and interacting with the book in front of the other students (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5). Some Big Books even contain visual activities, such as our Letter Buddies Alphabet Lap Books, which feature an image search at the end. These activities allow children to work together in groups and opens the door to the type of collaborative conversation aimed for in the Speaking and Listening Strand (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1).

Alphabet at Home spread

In addition to the Alphabet Lap Books, we currently offer Big Book versions of our best-selling books from the Joy Cowley Collection, including books that feature perennial favorite Mrs. Wishy-Washy. These books, leveled E–I, are appropriate for read-alouds to students in the early first grade or shared reading with students in the mid-to-late first grade and early second grade. If you'd like to find out more about the Big Books we offer, you can visit the webpage by clicking here.

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Topics: Common Core, The Joy Cowley Collection, Big Books, Read-Alouds, Shared Reading

A Letter from Joy Cowley

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jun 4, 2013 12:05:00 PM

Who doesn't love the imaginative characters of globally respected children's-book author Joy Cowley? For over thirty years, her beloved creation Mrs. Wishy-Washy has been entertaining children and introducing them to the pleasure of reading. Today, Joy has a special message for you:

JoyPortraitDear Teachers and Friends,

Many of you have been a part of my life for a long time.  Twenty years ago, I had a wooden box full of letters from you and your students.  I always felt this was my treasure chest.  Now I have a 12 ft. by 12 ft. storeroom stacked roof-high with cartons of treasure - all containing a wealth of information about your classes, stories of transformed reluctant readers, letters and drawings and sometimes, the children's own story books.

Recently, letters have come from teachers telling me they learned to read with my books, and are now sharing that experience.  This truly warms my heart!  Within many of the letters are requests for further stories about students' favorite characters.  For this reason, I am revisiting some special characters you know well.  The books in the Joy Cowley Collection are all new, but feature the well-known characters children love: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, the Meanies, the Hungry Giant, Smarty Pants and Dan, the Flying Man, with additional books coming soon!

- Joy Cowley

You can find the books Joy mentions in this letter at this link. If you'd also like to check out her new, lower-level Early Birds series, you can click here. To read about key features of her books, click on the images below for series highlights.

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, K-2 Literacy, Letter to Our Readers, The Joy Cowley Collection

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