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: