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#Operation Read Aloud: The Word Collector with Michelle and Barack Obama

By August 26, 2020May 14th, 2021The Kerlan Blog
Screenshot of Michele and Barak Obama smiling and holding the book Word Collector

Michelle and Barack Obama from Read Aloud Video

From Lisa:

For many of us distance-learning will continue into the fall.

On the Facebook page #OperationReadAloud, we are aggregating resources to support home and classroom learning.

Thank you to the creators for their hard work and generosity.

Thank you to the publishers for teachers guides, activities, and permissions.

We know that not everyone has access to social media platforms like Facebook.

Therefore, I will be posting the more accessible content with suggested writing response activities on the Blue Ox Review page.

Stay Safe, Stay Well, Don’t Touch Your Face.

The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds

Book Cover, Word CollectorWord Collector by Peter Reynolds, Scholastic Kids

About the Book

From the creator of The Dot comes a celebration of finding your own words – and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.

An illustration of black child collecting words on scraps of paper.

Interior Cropped Spread from the Word Collector

“Some people collect stamps.

Some people collect coins.

Some people collect art.

And Jerome?

Jerome collected words . . .”
Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multi-syllable words that sound like little songs.

Jerome, a Black child in center of the page is conducting floating words like kaleidoscope and Wonder.

Interior Spread cropped from The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds, Scholastic.

Michelle and Barack Obama reading aloud

Front logo of From the Library Video

From the Library video of Obamas reading aloud The Word Collector

From the Obama Foundation with permissions from Scholastic Kids

President and Mrs. Obama joined Chicago Public Library’s “Live from the Library”  read “The Word Collector” written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds.


Writing Response

An Interior page from The Word Collector, short and sweet words: Spark, Bloom, Drift Dream. Two Syllable Treats: Treasure, Motif, Whisper, Candid, Hover, Glimmer

Interior illustration from The Word Collector by Peter Reynolds, Scholastic Kids

For reading response suggestions Writing Boxes: The Reading/Writing Connection 

Become a Word Collector

Note: Some of us are teaching remotely, some of us are in the classroom, some of us have asynchronous programs, some of us are in pods with mixed age groups, some of us are in libraries on-site or remotely, and some of us are parents providing guidance at home. Adapt as you wish, there is no right way to write.

    1. Read aloud the Word Collector or watch the video.
    2. Ask the writers what words jumped out at them or write the ones that sang to you.
Whiteboard with words like spark and bloom and glimmer hand written in black markere

Words found in the word collector

3. Collect juicy words

4. See what two random words look and sound like together. Perfectly Emerald. What does that mean. What do you see in your minds eye? Can you draw a picture of it?

Scholastic has created an activity booklet for three of Reynold’s books.

This frame is terrific for beginning word collectors.

What are some words that I see in the world? Stop. Go. Walk. Don’t Walk.

What are some words that I hear in the world? Mask. Love. Ice Cream. Terrific.

Big Words? Enthusiastic. Magnanimous. Abundant. Avarice.

Little Words? Vote. Strong. Hope. Smart.


A grid of boxes on an activity sheet. Headings: Words I see in the World, Words I hear in the world, Big Words, Little Words

Crop of Scholastic Word Collector Sorting Frame.

Also from the Scholastic website

Share The Word Collector as a read aloud in your classroom, then use these quick classroom ideas to inspire your students to engage more fully with the book. You can also encourage your students to find their own special words with this engaging vocabulary activity.

All you need are:

      • Index cards
      • Yarn
      • Clothespins
      • Books and magazines
      • Colored pencils or markers

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, here’s how it works:

      1. Have your students browse through books and magazines for unfamiliar words that stand out to them.
      2. Let them look up the definitions of the unfamiliar words and then choose a favorite one.
      3. Each student should write their chosen word on the front of an index card and its definition on the back.
      4. Pin up the cards using yarn and clothespins and hang them along the wall of the classroom to create a chain of newly learned words.
      5. Throughout the week, have students take turns using their new word in a sentence.

Print out the full activity instructions here, and use it again throughout the year to encourage your students to share their words with their classmates and the world.

For more reader response activities from Scholastic Kids

About Peter Reynolds

Bearded face front white author /illustrator

Author/ Illustrator Peter Reynolds

Peter’s Website The Dot Central

Peter was born in Canada, but moved to Massachusetts at the age of three, where he still resides. He has a twin brother named Paul who is his best friend and business partner. He was interested in illustration from an early age. The brothers began publishing their own newspapers and comic books at the age of seven. Then in middle school, Peter had a wise and insightful teacher who challenged him to use his artistic talent to explain a math concept. This turned into a comic book, which his teacher recognized as a storyboard for a potential film as well. Thus began Peter’s career as an illustrator and animator.

Now, the brothers work together at Fablevision, an educational animation and media company. As part of that vision, Peter has created Fable Library, a site with free eBooks and an invitation to create your own online story.

Peter states, “If we want kids to learn, to read, to write, then we should invite them to play. Play with words. Fill an empty page. With words. Drawings and even just doodles and marks. Let them discover first-hand the joy of returning to the page a day later, a week later, and rediscover the page filled with their own thoughts and creations.”

More Word Mentor Texts

A painting of white boy in short pants and a cap walking and writing as words cascade around him

Interior of The Boy Who Loved Words

The Boy Who Loved Words written by Ronnie Shotter, Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Read aloud by the author

Boy Who Loved Words Teacher’s Guide


The Right Word by Jennifer Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Eerdmanns


Latin and the English translations in pencil, watercolor, and collage

Interior spread The Right Word

The Right Word written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Right Word Discussion Guide

Interview with the author, Jen Bryant

Interview with the illustrator, Melissa Sweet


Writing Boxes: The Reading/Writing Connection

Cover of Writing Boxes

Writing Boxes: The Reading/Writing Connection by Lisa Von Drasek

Free Download.










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