It's been more than 70 years since the marriage of children's authors Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. One of their best-loved collaborations is now 70 years young, as well. The Carrot Seed affirms the power of dedication and faith in what you believe, regardless of appearances. It is as enjoyable for toddlers as it is heartwarming for adults. Simple, line illustrations and sparse text convey a powerful and timeless message that no child should miss: dream the best, expect the best, work your best, believe the best and reap the best. For word study, notice how frequently the word "up" crops up (pun intended). "It" and "come" may become sight words, as well.
At least some of the time, a problem isn't a problem; it's just an opportunity waiting to be recognized. This is the happy outcome for Brontorina, a loveable dinosaur whose dearest dream is to dance like a ballerina. Share this story with young ones you'd like groom to persist in their happy pursuits and to embrace the differences of others. The sound of D is perfect for word study, given that both "dance" and "dinosaur" begin with the delightful sound.
In this modern adaptation of the classic three bears tale, our Goldie is a little on the difficult side. She knows what she likes and she likes things just-so, including her friends. Her misadventures at the bears' home provide a humor-filled lesson about finding good friends and being good friends, as well. Listeners will love it with all their hearts. The word "heart" is somewhat prominent, and certainly the word "bear(s)" appears repeatedly. These are good choices for word study contrast. You might point out that words spelled with EAR often make the same sound you find in "bear" and rarely make the sound you hear in "heart".
Just how resourceful can one person be? Joseph will show you, as he starts with an overcoat, and through the course of this diminishing narrative, he ends up with much less AND much more. The die-cut pages that allow for sneak preview guesses of what's next will engage young audiences, along with the repeated pattern of the text. In addition to lessons about being resourceful and optimistic, you might teach the sound of J for "Joseph" or N for "nothing". You could also emphasize that "overcoat" is a compound word.
The word "classic" certainly applies to The Story of Ferdinand, which has been a favorite among small children for more than fifty years. Though bulls are thought to be tough and mean, this bull has a strong preference for flowers and peaceful relaxation. It's a kind of mistaken identity that leads Ferdinand into a fight, but the fight doesn't turn out the way you might expect. The sound of F is prevalent-- found in "Ferdinand" and in "fight". You may wish to contrast with FL blends, found in "flag", "flowers" and "flying". For Within Word spellers, try focusing on "fight" (with its long I spelled IGH), which appears five times and is, of course, a central theme of the book.
We all want Amos to feel better soon, and luckily a friendly assortment of animals make themselves available to take care of him. Avid readers of picture books will find pleasure in allusions to other stories, such as Rathmann's Goodnight Gorilla and Burton's The Little House, found in the illustrations. This winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal makes Amos all better and will leave you feeling pretty good, too. Double your purpose by hunting for words that contrast the sound of short E with long E, spelled EE. You'll also find six words that end with LL.
If you're looking for a simple, rhyming book that will tickle tummies of listeners, you've found it. Rapunzel's hearing is apparently not all it might be. Instead of simply tossing down her lovely locks, the prince ends up with all sorts of surprises. For rhythm and rhyme and raucous laugher, you'll fall for Rapunzel. You'll also go for the word study support in the form of long I words, spelled iCe, such as "shine", "swine", "twine" and "whine". Notice that all four of these have beginning blends, as well.
When is a dot not just a dot? And how can a wise teacher help a novice discover the artist within? The inventive Peter Reynolds has crafted an entertaining story, but he's also provided a lasting gift about encouragement and perspective. Pair this story with Ish and find an unbeatable combination to embolden the creative spirit in all of us. When using it for word study, one choice is the sound of W at the end of several words-- "draw", "drew", "now", "show" and "snow". There is also the word "dot" which appears often and will hit the spot in working out the beginning, middle and ending sound in a three-letter word.
It can be comforting to know that good prevails. Robert San Souci delivers an imaginative yarn about the consequences of good and evil and reminds us of the perils of unbridled greed. The two sisters are suggestive of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters or even Cinderella's stepsisters. But San Souci took his inspiration from a Creole story, retold here with San Souci's usual skill. There are so many options for word study support in the Talking Eggs text. You might try words with long O-- ""gold", "old", "scold" and "told". Or you might have students look for the ten, one-syllable words that end with CK. There is at least one for each of the five vowels.
Brothers Derek and Michael have to leave behind their ipods, cell phones and video games when they visit Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Their grandmother insists. But dressed in union uniforms, the brothers are invited to step through a special door at the Civil War Museum... a door that leads them into a game that turns out to be quite real. As eyewitnesses to the aftermath of the battle of Antietam, and in the company of President Abraham Lincoln, the boys learn convincing lessons about the cost of war. Just in Time combines historical fiction and time travel and will be a useful addition to a Civil War text set. For word study, consider a comparison of R-controlled in the stressed syllable versus words with R-blends in the stressed (i.e. Harper's versus Brady). There are also many doublets, such as "battle" and "penny".
This book is just a lot of fun. Rumpelstiltskin is actually married in this version of the familiar folk tale. His daughter ends up, somehow, in a similar plight as her dad... destined to marry a despicable king unless she can spin gold and win her release. The younger generation proves to be much more clever than his highness imagined, and he ends up learning a thing or two before it's all said and done. Though the entire story is entertaining, the final page may be most memorable. If you want to find a story that overflows with the sound of long O, you've found it here. You'll find words spelled oCe, OA, OW and with lone O as in "cold", "told" and "gold".
You know the old stories: something about a red hen and a giant and a man made of food who just won't stop running. But in these far, far, farfetched versions, woven together in one outlandish work of art, you'll find quite a bit of worthy reading. When the dynamic duo of Scieszka and Smith first brought out the manuscript, publishers treated it like it was stinky cheese. It was so unusual and unusually irreverent for a children's book. Fortunately, persistence prevailed, and the book took the Caldecott Medal in 1993. More than two decades later, Stinky Cheese Man is still the stuff of side-splitting laugh fests in homes and classrooms everywhere. You'll find opportunities to support word study in each story. In The Princess and the Bowling Ball, for example, there are long E words spelled with both EA and EE-- "pea", and "dreams". "Heads", provides a short E sound contrast. "Queen", "feel", "sleep" and "need" have the double E. In contrast to these features, two words have an R-controlled EA, namely "dear" and "years".
Mrs. Bird insists on a new home. So many places seem ideal, but it turns out there really is only one best nest for the Bird family. P.D. Eastman's long-loved tale of loss and rediscovery is a joy for young readers and listeners. In addition to the rhyming words in the title and in Mrs. Bird's song, word searchers might discover the sound of ST is at the end of "best", "fast" and "nest as well as at the beginning of several other words.
This endearing little circular story clearly illustrates the meaning of community. With color-saturated illustrations and with animal neighbors who are both friendly and helpful, I Can Help sets the right tone for teaching about citizenship, good manners and the fact that everyone counts. Though it is a new beginner book today, it certainly has classic appeal. Sight words that repeat include "I", "can", "help", "thank" and "you".
It took Ms. Hillert just 44 preprimer words to recreate the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. With helpful picture support and controlled language, young readers will build confidence in their ability to read alone. As a read-aloud, it can work well to teach comprehension strategies in small group or one-on-one. Sight words abound-- including "away", "big", "come", "down", "little", "look", "run" and "up". You might use words like "big" and "run" to demonstrate how beginning, middle and ending sounds work in three-letter words.
Mo Willems' newest series is intended for the newest readers. Cat the Cat utilizes large, bold text and simple repetition to build word knowledge and to help learners make new friends. Ideal for shared reading and spin-off activities, including writing assignments, the book and the series provide funny, little surprises along the way. Repeating sight words include "cat", "is", "that", "the", and "who".
Dear Owl enjoys his time at home. In these four, short chapters, his adventures include entertaining winter, solving (or not solving) a bedtime mystery, brewing an unusual tea, deciding between up and down, and befriending the full moon. This is the only Owl book Arnold Lobel wrote, and it will certainly remind readers of the beloved Frog and Toad, for which Lobel may be most famously known. Each chapter lends itself to instruction about personification, and for word study, you might use it to have students search for beginning and ending blends. The second chapter, in particular, works well for introducing the sound of MP.
This Theodor Seuss Geisel honor book has reminded many of Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad. The two, good-natured friends pair one who is a bit more gregarious with one who's most comfortable at home in bed. Yee's characters are also pleasantly suggestive of Lobel's Owl, as they experience winter, make a new friend or two, and sip tea by the cozy fireplace. There are plenty of choices for word study work within these pages; you might consider the ending sound of MP, found in words like "bump", grump(ed)", "jump(ing)", "thump", and "whump". For ease of comparison with "thump", you'll also find the word "thup" several times.
In a more modern variation of three wish folk tales, Harriet Ziefert helps a little boy get just what he likes throughout the day. With this book, the earliest readers will feel a sense of accomplishment at being able to read chapter books. The word "want" will likely be a known sight word by the end of this little adventure.
Dragon is one of those characters you just can resist. Though his logic is a little unbelievable, it only adds to his charm. As dragon's search for a new friend leads him to fall for trickery, his gullibility is outdone by his good nature, and the nice guy finishes befriended...albeit in a way he hadn't expected. This dragon tale is full of beginning blends, especially R blends. An important reminder, though, is that while saying the word or using illustrations to emphasize the pattern is fine for longer words, it's not considered good practice in word study to expect learners to know how to spell words that have more advanced features (e.g. "breakfast" begins with BR, but it is a two-syllable word that is beyond the Within Word level, so it may be appropriate to note that it has a beginning blend but less appropriate to require a WW student to spell it, unless it is
considered a sight word).
And the Wedding Party- More Books to Love and Read Aloud
Multicultural (in English)
Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
Growing up can be hard on a kid, especially when it feels like younger siblings are taking your place in the family. Peter goes through the emotions that are understandable for a little boy with a new, little sister. And through the process, he realizes how much he is loved and finds out how much love he is capable of giving. This classic is one of several Keats stories about Peter, regarded as the first African-American "leading man" in children's literature. Emergent learners might note the sound of P in "paint" and "pink". Another solid word study choice is comparison of blends CH and CR. "Chair" is a recurring word and "stretch(ed)" and "lunch" end with the same sound. Several words begin with CR, including "crash", "cradle", "crib" and "crocodile". Bear in mind that Letter Name spellers learning about blends and digraphs would only be expected to spell the CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words and those beginning or ending with blends, as they learn them. We would not expect a learner at this space to spell "crocodile", for example, but that learner can certainly see and hear the CR feature in the word.
Few adults and fewer children know the full story of America's native people. With her usual sensitivity and skillful storytelling, Eve Bunting introduces us to a little boy, taken from his Cheyenne people, and forced to conform to the expectations of his white conquerors. Based on true experiences of Native children, the book is educational and unforgettable. You have many choices, if you'd like to use the book in your word study program. Among these is the sound of long A, spelled AI. Words students may find are "chain", "plain", "rain", "raise(d)", "tail", and "train". Other choices include patterns when adding ING and R-controlled vowels of just about every type.
In 1976, Margaret Musgrove used the alphabet to teach us about the peoples of Africa in the celebrated Ashanti to Zulu. In this, her second book for children, we again visit Africa and learn the legend behind the beautiful kente cloth. American children have, no doubt, seen colorful kente cloth, sometimes worn by African-Americans as a statement of pride in their African heritage. This simple story provides a window on the culture of west Africa and invites us to be respectful of other living things and appreciative of nature. For word study, the book works well for examining the long E sound, spelled EA, in the stressed syllable, with words such as "creature", "teacher" and "weaver".
When we think of pioneer stories, we don't always think of African-Americans who bravely went west for a better life. Barbara Brenner did. In this early chapter book, a man and his sons must risk all and endure great hardship to stake their claim in the western wilderness. Though historical fiction, the story of Ed Muldie and his three boys is based on true events. There is also an audio version available. You might ask students to identify words with OU. There are many. These contrast with two words in the text with the same sound, spelled OW.
Quentin Blake's Ten Frogs, Dix Grenouilles: A Book about Counting in English and French by Quentin Blake
Acclaimed artist and author Quentin Blake combines frogs, French and fun in this bilingual counting book. It's actually an assortment of animals that populate the pages to take us from one to one hundred in English and in French. Whether the native language is English or French, readers and listeners can enjoy learning to count a second way as easily as un, deux, trois. Emergent learners can explore beginning sounds T and F. You might also wish to compare the short vowel sounds in "ten" and "frogs".
Evocative prose and color-soaked images depict the progression of night and day. Text in both Spanish and English personify the daily dance of sun, moon and stars in ways that leave lasting impressions. The first letter in each of the title words, R, G and S (for both "sun" and "sol") are possibilities for word study. You might also choose to work with the three-letter "sun", which is prominent in the story.
A picture is worth a thousand songs, as a family photograph has the power to restore happiness in this sweet, sweet story. Inspired by her opera-singing mother, author Laura Lacamara has given us a fantastical story and the flowing, floating illustrations are worthy of the telling. Whether read in English or in Spanish, this affirmation of family, love and music will make for happy hearts and lighter spirits. Learners will identify many words ending with ED or ING and can note (pun intended) what changes in the root word (e.g. drop an E, double the final letter or do nothing) before the suffix can be added.
The main idea in this easy reader is that no one is the same all the time. No one feels the same all the time. But no matter how you feel, you're just fine all the time. Short, repeated, rhyming words lead to sight recognition and early reading confidence. Six sight words are repeated, most notably "I". You might also focus on the sound of S in "sometimes". You might also note with listeners that "sometimes" in conversational Spanish is usually "a veces".
Trixie goes to Holland. But where is Knuffle Bunny? An unexpected turn of events leads to something entirely new in this favorite series. Modes of transportation give authentic connections for teaching beginning blends TR, as in "train" and PL as in "plane". You might also be happy to note the sight word "happy", which appears five times in the text.
Fancy Nancy is already a hit with many girls. But any child interested in the skies above might take a shine to this stellar entry. Our heroine is camping out with the family and learning some interesting things about astronomy. If you're looking for facts about stars, including the sun, as well as the moon, constellations and more... then ooh la la! You'll find real information integrated well into a fun, fancy story. Before an emergent crowd, you might select the short A sound at the beginning of "astronaut" for word study. For Within Word spellers, look for R-controlled A in "arm", "dark", "guard", "star(s)", "start(s)", and "warn(ing)".
LaRue Across America:Postcards from the Vacation by Mark Teague
Just in time for summer vacation, Mrs. LaRue's canine communicator corresponds cross-country style. The benevolent LaRue takes in her neighbor's cats on the eve of a planned cruise ship holiday. To the dismay of "inkpen" Ike, the dog, no cats are allowed on the ship. The quartet becomes confined to the car from New York to California, with misadventurous stops along the way. As in earlier books in the series, Ike's letters beseech the reader to understand the circumstances, while the illustrations (and context clues) speak volumes about what's REALLY going on. In addition to being immensely helpful in teaching letter writing, word study support can be found in the form of abundant prefixes, suffixes and doublets.
Max and Ruby are working together at the beach, and as usual, they have very different ideas about what needs to happen. Fans of Rosemary Wells' beloved characters already know that Ruby's approach is practical and sensible while Max's is more playful and insistent. Ruby knows exactly what she needs to build a sand castle and Max doesn't quite deliver on her demands, but in the end, guess who saves the day? Look here to illustrate the sound of S, especially when compared with S blends. "Sand" versus "shell(s)" utilizes two frequent words in the text. You'll also find "some", "still" and "swim".
Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a neighborhood library or bookstore. Not everyone can stroll in and check out books when they please. Some readers rely on the ingenuity of caring neighbors and the cooperation of sturdy animal friends to bring books into their lives. The sound of beginning B is an easy word study choice, not only because of the title but also because of the subject: books.
Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
When war tore Iraq, soldiers weren't the only ones who answered the call of duty. This picture book pays tribute to the real-life librarian who risked everything to protect one of the country's most valuable resources... its books. The word "book" could be the focus for word study purposes, as it appears a dozen times in the story. In addition you could explore words with R-controlled vowels, such as "war", "car", "port", and "more".
Ultimately, it was his intellect (and maybe his wild hair) that set Albert Einstein apart in the world. But this story of his early life helps us understand better that Albert was accustomed to being different. This title may be enjoyed most by older children who are especially bright, but anyone who has ever felt like he or she didn't quite fit in might be heartened by the story of the young genius. In a word hunt, SA level spellers might discover a number of words with the DIS prefix including "discoveries", "disinterest" and "displeased"; DR level spellers would count "difficulties" as a DIS word with an absorbed prefix. The absorbed AD prefix is another possible focal point, with words like "allow", "appear", "(un)attended", and "attention". There are more than two dozen doublets throughout this picture book biography.
Where did Abraham Lincoln keep his important papers? Read this book and find out the answer to that question and much more. What was he like? What did he accomplish? Younger readers can access the facts and enjoy learning about America's 16th president. The word "hat" comes to mind for word study. You'll also notice a plethora of short A words, including some that rhyme, like "bad", "had" and "mad".
You'll smile. You'll laugh. You'll see pink balloons. When are zoo animals not in the zoo? When they're following the zookeeper home, of course. Very few words are needed. Younger listeners will master the "reading" of this one on their own before too long, and they'll certainly love hearing it read aloud over and over and over. Though there are few words, the sound of hard G makes sense as a word study focal point, as it appears in "good" and "gorilla".
Here's a power-read for the power of girls if ever there was one. A fun and funny fairy tale stands up to many readings, because it's got it all... a prince, a princess, a fire-breathing dragon, a quest, a rescue and a surprise ending that will not only amuse but may also give traditionalists a little something to consider. Word study highlights include long E, spelled EA in words like "breathe", "ear", "eat", "meat(ball)", "neat", and "real". Implied additional words (those not used in the text but that describe aspects of the plot) that fit the pattern might include "beat", "feat", "heat", "mean", "steal", and "weak".
Just Rewards or Who is that Man in the Moon and What's He Doing Up There Anyway? by Steve Sanfield
Is it enough to do the right thing? Do motives matter? Young to old will find cause for deep reflection about what it means to be a decent person... from the reading of a few pages of an interesting picture book. One man is rewarded for his kindness after he finds an injured bird and nurses it back to health. A second man decides that what worked for his neighbor will surely work for him, but he goes about the task in a much different way. Word study might include searching for words with R-controlled I and R-controlled U. Learners will find "bird", "first", "third" and "firm(ly)" as well as "hurt", "turn(ed)", and "sure".
Sally has made more than a few trips into town over the past twenty years, and she's still walking backwards and upside-down to the delight of readers. Audrey Wood's short and silly rhyming tale is not written as an easy reader, but it is easy enough that eager listeners will be reciting it and then reading it independently in no time. In addition to the rhyming fun, you can also point out the sound of S in both "silly" and "Sally". Both these words also provide examples of when the consonant Y behaves more like a vowel, making the same sound as long E.
Welcome Reception- Novel Novels Worth Celebrating- JF or YA
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
by Kate DiCamillo
RL-4.4, Approximate Interest Level,
Ages 8 and up
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Edward is a fine, china bunny... well-loved by the little girl who takes care of him. Edward, however, is mostly concerned about Edward. And then the journey begins and we have the privilege of witnessing Edward's remarkable and miraculous transformation. Reminiscent of The Velveteen Rabbit and of Rachel Field's Hitty: The First Hundred Years, Edward is an experience all to itself. Edward is indelible and absolutely should not be missed by any reader or listener.
No Passengers Beyond This Point
by Gennifer Choldenko
RL-4.5, Approximate Interest Level,
No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko
The latest from Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts) has been called a "reality bender" and it does defy a single genre label. Told in the voices of three different siblings, the story is timely in an era of home foreclosures and painful, family financial struggle. The heart-wrenching realities in the book are a starting point, but the outcome of the siblings' adventures will affirm faith in family, in love and in the critical importance of believing in and being yourself.
by Christopher Paolini
RL-5.6, Approximate Interest Level,
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The epic, multi-volume saga begins with Eragon. For excitement, enchantment and other-worldly charm, the story of an unlikely hero and his loyal, flying beast is a splendid selection. What may be most amazing about this story, however, is that it was written by a teenager. Christopher Paolini is an inspiring, writing role model for for every young person.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
RL-5.0, Approximate Interest Level,
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
An African-American family living in Michigan makes a trip to Alabama in the new family car. Byron, Kenny, Joetta and their parents just want to visit relatives; instead, tragedy visits when a church is bombed, killing four little girls. This fictional account is narrated by middle child, Kenny, and is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. Civil rights students will gain an understanding of the true events of the time. And everyone will be charmed by the Watson family, especially young Kenny.
Okay for Now
by Gary B. Schmidt
RL-4.9, Approximate Interest Level,
Okay for Now by Gary B. Schmidt
It's 1968 and Doug's family is suddenly uprooted when his father loses his temper and his job. In a new life in a "stupid" city, this young man, who has become accustomed to brutality and loss, somehow finds a way to rise above his circumstances and to lift many others in the process. With more than passing references to Vietnam, the moon landing and the art of naturalist James Audobon, this novel works on many levels. It is a coming of age story and so much more. Schmidt has already received lavish praise for his two prior works, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and The Wednesday Wars. Holling, from Wednesday Wars, appears briefly in this book, as well. Like its predecessors, praise will no doubt be plentiful for Okay for Now. You may even hear the word "masterpiece".
The Pirate Captain's Daughter
by Eve Bunting
RL-4.7, Approximate Interest Level,
The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting
15-year old Catherine is fascinated with her father's secret life. She knows he's a pirate, and when her mother passes away, she insists that he take her along on his next voyage. To do this, she must disguise herself as a boy, and the crew must believe she is a boy. Her life and that of her father depend on it. Her carefully concealed identity is compromised, however. Catherine, her father and the cabin boy who kept her secret have consequences to face. The prolific Bunting, who has contributed more than 250 books for young readers, adds an action-packed adventure to her list of YA titles.
The Maze of Bones: 39 Clues Book 1
by Rick Riordan
RL-4.3 Approximate Interest Level
The Maze of Bones: 39 Clues Book 1
by Rick Riordan
Following the demise of their beloved and very cool grandmother, Grace, orphans Amy and Dan Cahill have a choice to make. Like the other members of the extended and historically influential Cahill clan (every famous person in history was a family member), they can take their inheritance in cash OR they can sacrifice the money and accept a clue. One clue may lead to others and may make a great deal of difference in the fate of the entire world. The first in a projected series of ten books, penned by different authors, the series engages not only with books, but also with collectible cards and online activities. Compared at times to Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, a more obvious forebear is Sam Westing in The Westing Game. Find the clues; save the day; read some more.
by Carl Hiaasen
RL-5.2, Approximate Interest Level,
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy Eberhardt's move from Montana to Florida doesn't seem to have changed his lot in life very much. He's still the unpopular outcast who must contend with bullies. But then Roy gets a glimpse of the running boy, and life takes on a much more adventurous tone. Roy; Beatrice, the bully-beater and the running boy insert themselves in a battle between miniature owls and a planned pancake house. Given that this is an eco-friendly thriller, you might guess who will win... but can you guess how?
by Walter Dean Myers
RL-5.1, Approximate Interest Level,
Ages 13 and up
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myers has written many, fine novels for young people. This may be his consummate work. 16 year-old Steve Jenkins is in jail awaiting trial for robbery and murder. He's a good kid who has never been in trouble before. But proving his innocence will be difficult. Steve isn't sure his own attorney believes he deserves to be set free. Written as a combination screenplay/private journal, Monster takes you into the courtroom, into the penal system and deeply into the thoughts and memories of a scared teenaged boy. But even as you approach the final pages, Monster will keep you wondering about what really happened and what innocence really means. Readers should be cautioned that there is some language and a brief mention of sex that may be disturbing to some. This is a powerful story that will surely spark meaningful thought and discussion.
Who Was Albert Einstein?
by Jess M. Brallier
RL-5.6, Approximate Interest Level,
Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess M. Brallier
From his birth to his death, this book answers the title question with short, easy-to-read chapters. It includes numerous historical sidebars and brief explanations about science concepts. The overarching theme is that Albert Einstein was a thinker and this was his highest calling and greatest priority in life. Both his accomplishments and his human frailties are chronicled in an age-appropriate way in this volume, which is suited for upper elementary grades.
I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird
by Robert B. Haas
RL-6.2, Approximate Interest Level,
Ages 8 and up
I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird: My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter by Robert B. Haas
Amazing photographs fill the pages and the artist's conversational narrative enhance each view. One after another, action shots of animals in their natural settings compel us to want to know more. This is a great pick for reluctant readers, but it's a treat for readers of every stripe.
Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up
RL-4.6, Approximate Interest Level,
Ages 9 and up
Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka
Many thanks to Jon Scieszka for inviting us, the rest of the world, in to meet his family. From the funny to the plain farfetched, remembrances of his days growing up in Flint, Michigan, with five brothers are just delightful to read. Large families, especially, will appreciate the pros and pains of a multiple-sibling home. Scieszka fans will understand much better how he came to acquire his zany sense of humor. Newcomers to the fold will relish, with laughter, evidence of that humor found throughout this touching, knuckleheaded memoir.
Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus
by Kristen Tracy
RL-4.1, Approximate Interest Level,
Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus by Kristen Tracy
We would love Camille McPhee even if she didn't have a big head full of movie-star calibur hair. Her glamorous "do" only adds to our affection for the cooler-toting, mishap-having, parent-troubled fourth grade girl. Life was already tough before she fell under the bus. Now, between the bus aftermath, the hole of a family budget, the unauthorized home improvements and countless other chuckle-inducing episodes, we're going to have to keep cheering until Camille McPhee comes out on top.
by Beth Evangelista
RL-5.6, Approximate Interest Level,
Gifted by Beth Evangelista
George Clark is gifted, and this eighth grade boy is happy to tell you all about it. Life would be much better if other students would come around and treat him a little better, but as he'll tell you, he can't seem to get a break. Summer camp brings with it a hefty dose of unfairness that actually leads George to some new revelations about himself and his relationships that might prove to make life a little more bearable. Gifts do come in all forms.
Notes from the Dog
by Gary Paulsen
RL-4.7, Approximate Interest Level,
Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen
14 year-old Finn has the perfect plan for summer. He's not going to talk to anyone... except maybe his best friend, Matthew, and his dog, Dylan. He's a loner with a so-so relationship with his dad and he's planning to keep to himself. But in comes a new neighbor, twenty-something Johanna, who is irresistibly full of life. With her zest for living and her way of drawing people out of their shells, everything becomes exponentially more interesting in Finn's world. Johanna, who has cancer, is somehow able to sweeten the lives of everyone around her. With some parts funny and some parts sad, you'll find all the parts of Notes from the Dog completely entertaining and absolutely encouraging.
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
RL-4.7, Approximate Interest Level,
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
From 1962 to now, Meg is still getting it right, in this YA classic of 50+ years. The adolescent daughter of two brilliant scientists, Meg must help rescue her father from wherever he has gone before it's too late. Along with her younger brother, Charles Wallace-- who has special extrasensory powers in addition to uncommon brilliance-- and with able assistance from Calvin, the boy in her life, she embarks on a mission across worlds. Three mysterious "beings" who first appear as older women add an element of magic to what is mostly science fiction. Darkness threatens light; evil torments good and nearly fifty years later, the theories of "tesseract" time travel are looking more and more like real science, at least in the realm of quantum physics. A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery in 1963 and is the first of several books in a series.
When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead
RL-4.5, Approximate Interest Level,
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Paying homage to A Wrinkle in Time, this Newbery winner by Rebecca Stead can be classified as a mystery and as historcial fiction as well as science fiction. Set in the late 1970s in New York City, the story features mysterious notes delivered to Miranda, a 12 year-old with a less-than-charmed life. Miranda is a big fan of a Wrinkle in Time, so she's naturally drawn in by talk of time travel with her new acquaintance, who also happens to be the nemesis of Sal, her former best friend. While negotiating the ups and downs of 6th grade, Miranda finds herself in the middle of an intriguing mystery that continues to defy reason, until the mind-blowing conclusion.
by Orson Scott Card
RL-5.5, Approximate Interest Level,
Ages 14 and up
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
There is no shortage of praise and applause for what has become a classic among sci-fi novels. Ender is a "third", the third-born child genius in his family, who like others, was specifically bred to battle the aliens and save earth. Ender's Game is nutritious food for thought, whether your interests relate to war, military strategy, religion, politics, ethics, humanity, childhood, survival of the fittest, the nature of giftedness, or all of these. The squeamish should be warned about some profanity and some descriptive language in fighting scenes, but most will find it acceptable and appropriate for the tone of the novel. Winner of both the the Nebula and Hugo awards when it was published in 1985, this intense, futuristic saga is still a resounding winner among young audiences today. Fans may be interested in the sequels, as well.
Anyone serious about teaching across content areas is usually on the lookout for great literature.
To make the challenge of connecting disparate areas of learning less daunting, we thank Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth.
Bring more reading aloud to your content areas and more enjoyment to all your teaching.
Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum will show you how. With twelve content-driven thematic units, practical tips and numerous read-aloud suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to a more enriching, more integrated way of helping students to approach learning comprehensively and critically.
Words Their Way by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston
What is the best approach for teaching spelling? Why are some methods more effective than others? How can a spelling routine fit snugly into a language arts program? Is there a way to make spelling seem more like a game, more like fun? If any of these questions has crossed your mind, this book may be exactly what you need.
The classic Words Their Way is now in a 5th edition, offering the same sound support for teaching developmental spelling (also known as word study) but also adding some extras. Here you’ll find an expanded focus on vocabulary as well as online materials to further enhance classroom word study practices. This may be the definitive, must-have manual on effective practice in the world of word work.