Sunday, November 16, 2014

Author Studies

Selznick, B. (2007). Wonderstruck. NY: Scholastic.
This is the tale of two children in two different places who have many questions about their lives.  They set off alone on a journey to get answers about their lives.  Through the amazing artwork and thoughtful text, we are taken on a journey that weaves through time. We slowly learn about the characters and many mysteries are solved.
Great lessons and resources:
Creech, S. (2001). Love That . NY: HarperCollins.
Love that dog is a simple story told by a young boy who writes short poems to his teacher.  Even though Jack hates poetry, he learns to understand poems and write short poems with great emotion. As he writes his poems, we slowly learn about what is important to him and events in his life that have been hard for him.
Great lessons and resources:


Gaiman, N. (2008). The Graveyard Book. NY: HarperCollins.
Bod is a young boy the lives in the graveyard.  He was raised by the ghosts that haunt the graveyard. He has to quickly learn how to understand how be among the living and the dead and survive the dangers that lie in  both worlds.
Great lessons and activities:
Holm, J. (2014). Comics Squad: Recess! NY: Random House.
This is a hilarious graphic novel that has many short stories from all your favorite author's from this genre. Each story  includes every student's favorite part of school...recess!   This is a very entertaining and quick read...comic book style!
Great lessons and activities:

Collins, S. (2004). Gregor the Overlander. NY: Scholastic.
Gregor is a young boy that starts his usual chore of doing laundry in his apartment building when something amazing happens.  Gregor and his baby sister fall through the grate in the laundry room and land in a mysterious world far underground.  The strange world he lands in is on the brink of a war.  Gregor now begins a journey to save the underworld and find some answers of his own.
Great lessons and activities:
Hale, S. (2008). Rapunzel's Revenge. NY: Bloomsbury.
Rapunzel's Revenge is a graphic novel that is a bit different from your typical Rapunzel fairytale. Rapunzel doesn't wait around to be rescued from the tower, she rescues herself.  She then teams up with Jack to rescue others and do good deeds all over the land.
Great lessons and activities:
Landry, D. (2007). Skulduggery Pleasant. NY: HarperCollins.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a walking, talking skeleton.  He is also a sarcastic and talented detective for the magical world that is all around us but don't see.  With the help of a very crafty 12 year old, Stephanie, they work together to save the world from the evil magical leaders that threaten to destroy it.
Great lessons and ideas:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Historical Fiction

Curtis, C.P. (1995). The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963. NY: Delacorte.

In 1963, ten year old Kenny and his family, the weird Watson’s, take off on a family road trip to Alabama. As the family travels to the deep-south, Kenny begins to hear the adults whispering about the scary events taking place to discourage those involved in the civil rights movement.  Even though his family tries to shelter Kenny and his brother and sister from the tragic events, the nightmare is suddenly brought straight to them. They are instantly put in the middle of a devastating event. Though many young readers may not fully understand the civil rights movement, they will identify with the family dynamics between Kenny and his siblings. The family interactions are very realistic for the time and place of this story. We slowly find out about the events taking place in the south during this time, though it is not at the forefront of the story.  The struggles Kenny goes through after witnessing a tragic event that directly impacted his family, shows us how a child might struggle with suddenly being thrust into a real-world situation and learning that life is sometimes dangerous and not always fair.
Great Resources:
Schlitz, L. A. (2007). Good Masters, Sweet Ladies. Boston: Candlewick Press.
For the children living in medieval England in the year 1255, life is not easy.  From the lord’s nephew to Giles, the beggar, this book shows the way of life at the manor.  Through monologues and dialogues that use language appropriate for the times, the way of life is slowly unraveled. As readers, we are not overwhelmed with many details and the circumstances of life at the manor, but we are quickly made aware of the way of life and the typical struggles for the time period. We quickly realize that it doesn’t matter what station in life the character was born into, there are struggles for each of them. The dialect and language of the times paints an honest picture of the way of life, but doesn’t overwhelm the reader and make it hard to understand. Historical details and background information are given to make the reader comfortable with the text and the time period.
Great resources:


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Cleary, B. (1983). Dear Mr. Henshaw. NY: Morrow.
Dear Mr. Henshaw is the story of a young boy who begins writing letters to his favorite author.  Through his letters, he explains his life now since his parents separation.  From the advice of his favorite author he begins writing in a diary as well.  This is a funny and interesting story of a boy that is finding his place in his new life.

Great resources:

Teaching Plan

Pinterest Ideas
Draper, S. (2010). Out of my Mind. NY: Atheneum.
Melody is an eleven year old girl who has never spoken before.  She has a photographic memory and may be the smartest girl in the school, but nobody knows because she can't communicate with anyone. With the help of her parents and an eccentric neighbor that cares for her, she is eventually able to communicate with others. That is when things get interesting.  She is now communicating, but not everyone at her school is ready to hear her, or understand how intelligent she really is.
Great resources:
Lord, C. (2008). Rules. NY: Scholastic.
A young girl makes social rules for her younger brother to follow.  She makes these rules because he is autistic and doesn't understand rules.  This is a story of a young girl learning how to be happy with the life she was given.  With the help of a new special friend she learns to just be herself and be happy in her life.
Great resources:
Urban, L. (2009). A Crooked Kind of Perfect. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
A Crooked Kind of Perfect is the story of a young girl that just wants to be a pianist and play at Carnegie Hall.  She is waiting for her parents to get her a piano so she can begin lessons, but when her troubled father comes home with an organ instead, her plans change. Quirky and interesting characters make this a fun and heartfelt story.
Great resources:
 Pastis, S. (2010). Timmy Failure. NY: Candelwick Press.
Timmy Failure is a young boy that runs his own detective business with the help if his partner, who is a polar bear named Total.  In this book he explains the ups and downs of the detective business through funny drawings and sarcastic commentary.
Great resources:
 Paterson, K. (1972). Bridge to Terabithia. NY: Crown.
Jess is a young boy growing up in a small country town.  When a young city girl moves next door, they become close friends.  His new friend introduces him to her world of imagination and they create the world of Terabithia. When a sudden tragedy happens, Jess is forced to grow up and learn to live in his world that is now forever changed.
Great resources:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Informationl Books

Sweet, M. (2011). Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade. NY:Houghton

Balloons Over Broadway is the story of Tony Sarg, a puppeteer for the Macy's parade.  It begins with describing his life growing up and how he became interested in creating and manipulating marionettes. The book continues to detail how his career progressed from his marionettes on Broadway to his giant balloons in the Macy's parade.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Bartoletti, S. (2005). Hitler Youth. NY: Scholastic.

This is a chilling tale about the young adults that followed Hitler in a group called the Hitler Youth. It begins with a description of Hitler's rise to power and the development of the Hitler Youth organization. Hitler Youth includes information on several young people that were associated with the Hitler Youth organization as well as many  black and white photographs from the era.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Bragg, G. (2011). How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. NY: Walker

How They Croaked is a very unique and interesting informational text.  It details the gory truths and awful ends to some very famous people in history, such as George Washington and Albert Einstein.  The information is written in a very interesting and funny way that doesn't throw a lot of facts at you, but definitely entertains you.
Great Lesson ideas and resources:

Harris, R. (1999). It's So Amazing. Boston, MA: Candlewick Press.

This book has comic-book-style artwork to help describe puberty and how a baby is made. It is written and illustrated in a way that makes it easy for a younger child to understand their bodies, sex, and the changes that will occur.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

McDonnell, P. (2011). Me...Jane. NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Me...Jane is a very clever informational book about Jane Goodall.  It tells the story of her growing up and her love of animals.  It describes how she believed the world was magical and how she set out to discover it at a very young age. The book ends with Jane accomplishing her dreams.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Ottaviani, J. (2013). Primates. NY: FirstSecond.

Primates is a nonfiction graphic novel that tells the story of three important women researchers. It details the lives and careers of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas.  The author shows their struggles of traveling, researching, and living in a very funny and inviting way.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Giovanni, N. (2005). Rosa. NY: Holt.

Rosa Parks is a very memorable figure in American history.  This book is the retelling of the day she made a stand as she took the bus home from work. It tells the story of how she refused to give up her seat for the other white passengers and how she was tired of putting up with the rules that made the community separate and not equal. The book details the changes that were made because of Rosa's courage.
Great lesson ideas and resources:

Bishop, N. (2004). The Tarantula Scientist. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Amazing photographs detail the research of tarantula scientist, Sam Marshall.  Close-up pictures show the different types of tarantula bodies and habitats.  A wealth of easy to read information accompanies the photographs to create a very captivating read.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Nelson, K. (2008). We Are The Ship. NY: Jump at the Sun Hyperion
 We Are The Ship details the history of  Negro League Baseball.  With amazing illustrations, first-hand accounts and quotes from the athletes, this book paints a picture of what life was like for these history making athletes.

Great lesson ideas and resources:

Book guides and lesson plans

Criteria for Historical Fiction

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Children's Picture Books

Deedy, C.A. (2007). Martina the Beautiful Cockroach. Atlanta,GA:Peachtree.
 Martina is a beautiful cockroach.  It was time for her to choose a husband. Martina was worried about finding a husband.  Her grandmother told her to spill coffee on each suitor's shoes as a test to see how they would treat her when they were married. As all of the animals of Havana came calling, Martina performed the test.  After spilling coffee on each of them, she could see their true colors.  At last a quiet mouse was waiting to call on her.  She was prepared to spill the coffee on him, when he spilled it on her shoes instead. Now the coffee was on the other foot. At last she found her perfect match.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach 1

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach 2

Video: Read-Aloud of the book
DePaola, T. (1983). The Legend of the Bluebonnet. NY: Putnam.
This is a Native American legend that describes a time of drought and famine.  The famine took the very young and the very old.   A young child named She-Who-Is-Alone, has lost all of her family.  The only thing she has left is a doll with a beautiful blue feather.  It is her most valued possession.  The great spirits told the shaman that the people have become selfish.  To bring back the healing rains they must sacrifice a burnt offering of the most valued possession in the tribe.  The other members of the tribe did not wish to sacrifice their treasured possessions.  In the night, She-Who-Is-Alone burned her doll as a sacrifice for the tribe. In the morning the hillside was green with grass and covered with blue flowers, as blue as the feather on her doll's head. The girl is now known as One-Who-Dearly-Loved-Her-People.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Lesson ideas

Guided Reading Lesson Ideas

Falconer, I.(2009) Olivia. NY: Atheneum.
Olivia is a little girl pig who is full of energy. She is good at lots of things, especially wearing people out. She likes to play dress up, she likes to move her cat Edwin,  and she likes to go to the beach and build huge sand castles.  Olivia also hates taking naps. She gets in trouble often, but her mother tells her she loves her anyway.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

First grade lessons

Olivia Unit

Sendak, M.(1963). Where the Wild Things Are. NY: HarperCollins
A mischievous boy gets into great trouble at home one night.  His mom sends him to bed without eating. While he's in his room he sees a forest grow and a new world appear.  He sails away on a boat and lands on an island where the wild things are.  The wild things were roaring and gnashing their teeth and Max tames them by staring into their eyes. The wild things made him the king. They all had a wild rumpus parade together.Then, suddenly Max smells something good to eat from far away.  He leaves the wild things to sail back home. When he returns to his bedroom, he finds his supper waiting for him, and it's still hot.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Many games and activities

Lessons and ideas from Pinterest

Singer, M. (2010). Mirror Mirror. NY: Dutton.
This is a book of very unique poems. The poems are about many different fairytales, such as The Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast, as wells as Sleeping Beauty.  The poems are written in reversible verse.  You can read the poems from top to bottom, then reverse the lines and read from bottom to top. It provides an interesting new way of looking at each fairytale.
Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Wiesner,D. (2001). The Three Pigs. NY: Clarion.

This book starts off as your basic three little pigs story, but then something different happens. The wolf blows a pig right out of the story. Soon, all the other pigs are knocking down pages to jump right out of the book. The pigs then begin to explore the world outside of the story.They turn one of the book pages into a paper airplane and fly away on it. When they crash the plane, they notice other books with animals. They run through the books and interact with the other characters. The pigs then decide it's time to go back to their own story. The characters they met from the other stories come to their book to visit them and end up saving the pigs from the wolf.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Many ideas for The Three Pigs

Discussions and Activities

Klassen, J. (2012). This is not my Hat. Boston, MA: Candlewick

A very small fish  takes a hat from a very large fish while he sleeps.  The small fish thinks he will get away with stealing the hat by going far away and hiding in the tall grass.  He only tells one other animal what has happened and he is sure that this animal will not give him away.  In the end, we see the big fish swim in the tall grass and come back out with his hat on his head.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Lessons on Questioning

Writing Lesson Plan

Brown, P. (2014). My Teacher is a Monster. NJ: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Bobby and his teacher do not really agree or get along.  Bobby's teacher looks and acts like a monster, until one day when Bobby sees his teacher at the park. They soon find many things to do together. Things begin to change and Bobby begins to see his teacher in a new way.  She slowly changes from a monster to a real person.

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Character Traits lesson

Smith, L. (2011). It's a Book. NY: Roaring Brook

A monkey is reading a book when a very tech savvy jackass begins to ask him questions about his book.  The jackass doesn't understand that the book does not allow you to blog, scroll down, or text.  It also doesn't need to be charged.  When the Jackass finally sits down to read the book, he doesn't want to give it up.  The book ends with a very hilarious one-liner!

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Lesson ideas

More lesson ideas and guides

Munsch, R. (2012). The Paper Bag Princess. NY: Annick Press

The Paper Bag Princess begins with a beautiful princes dressed in fine clothes.  She is planning to marry a prince named Ronald.  Suddenly, a dragon flies in and ruins her castle, burns all her clothes and takes off with the prince.  The only thing for the princess to wear is a paper bag.  She then begins her search for the prince. She finds the dragon and tricks him into breathing fire and flying around the world until he is so exhausted he falls down and sleeps.  She takes off to rescue the prince, but he is not happy with her paper bag dress or how dirty she is.  The princess decides not to marry the prince after all. 

Great lesson ideas and extensions for this book:

Many lesson ideas for reading and writing

Many ideas from Pinterest

Children's Picture Books Criteria