Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day

Celebrated on September 24, National Punctuation Day is a celebration of the lowly comma, the correctly used quote and other proper uses of periods, semicolons and the every-mysterious ellipsis. Visit for more information.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

From my own experience in the classroom as a substitute teacher, many children struggle with the correct use of punctuation on a near daily basis. As teachers, perhaps this means we need to find a new approach to the teaching of such content. Could children's literature be helpful in the correct usage of punctuation? Have any of you used children's literature to teach punctuation? Was it's use successful in teaching what you were hoping to accomplish?

Donohue, Moira Rose.
Alfie the Apostrophe.
Albert Whitman.
Guided Reading Level: N

Summary from Amazon:

Alfie and other quirky little figures represent the contestants in the punctuation-mark talent show: periods and hyphens, commas, asterisks, and parentheses. They all do their things, including telling jokes and riddles (question marks) and cheerleading (exclamation points). Alfie, who has butterflies about performing onstage, does magic tricks, turning two words into contractions and demonstrating the use of the possessive. He brings down the house and is declared the show's shining star. Fanciful cartoon drawings capture the whimsy of this original, instructional story. However, children may miss some of the laughs, and, indeed, the point of the grammar lesson, if they haven't already been introduced to punctuation marks.–Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library, NY (School Library Journal).

This is a great book to introduce the apostrophe! It shows "magic" happening as two words are combined into a new word - a contraction! Definitely a great book to use in a classroom, and even if not being used, it's a great "thought" for teachers who are looking to introduce contractions in a clever, creative way that will really help children remember what an apostrophe does.

Pulver, Robin.
Punctuation Takes a Vacation.
Holiday House, Inc.
Guided Reading Level: M

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

When all the punctuation marks in Mr. Wright's class decide to take a vacation, the students discover just how difficult life can be without them.

This is an AWESOME book! I so want to add this to my collection! The enthusiasm for punctuation in this book is evident... I can definitely see the book exciting students about writing and editing. I loved it so much, I created two activities to go along, one riddle and one editing activity for students, feel free to download!

Worksheets I Created to Pair with the Book:
Truss, Lynn.
Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, Every Punctuation Mark Counts!
Penguin Group USA.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Commas and apostrophes aren't the only punctuation marks that can cause big trouble if they're put in the wrong place. Now, Truss and Timmons put hyphens, parentheses, quotation marks, periods, and more in the spotlight, showing how which marks you choose and where you put them can cause hilarious mix-ups.

So this book is really clever! It has the potential to really make children chuckle... however, it either has to be used during independent reading, so children can see the placement of punctuation and relate to the pictures to tell the difference between the sentences with different punctuation marks, or it has to be read aloud by a teacher who is very good at fluctuating his/her voice in order to ensure that the correct meaning is conveyed! Perhaps the best way to use this book in a classroom would be to "borrow" a few of the sentences and put them on the board to make a discussion about just how much punctuation has the ability to change the entire meaning of a sentence.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to


style='clear: both;' Moira Donohue said...

Thanks for the kind words about my book, Alfie the Apostrophe - I have a lot of fun with my apostrophe magic tricks when I visit schools.

And thanks for spreading the word about National Punctuation Day. May your inner asterisk shine!

Moira Rose Donohue