Teach Kids about Art with Katie’s Picture Show by James Mayhew

Katie'sPictureShowIntegrate art and literacy with James Mayhew’s terrific books about Katie, a girl who can step inside paintings.  These beautifully illustrated books bring masterpieces to life.

Books in the series, all available at Amazon.com:

Katie’s Picture Show: This is the book that started it all.  Katie visits London’s National Gallery, where five famous masterpieces come to life.

Katie and the Starry Night:  The stars are falling out of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night!  Can Katie save the day, er, night?

Katie Meets The Impressionists: Katie meets Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Katie and the Waterlily Pond: A Magical Journey Through Five Monet Masterpieces: An art competition inspires Katie to step into Monet’s masterpieces.  Can she learn how to create a winning entry?

Katie and the Sunflowers:  Katie explores post-Impressionst masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, and Paul Cezanne.

Katie and the Spanish Princess:  This one’s about  the pride of Spain, Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez.

Katie and the Bathers: Pointilist art comes alive for Katie.  She cools down with the bathers—but floods the gallery!  What now?

Katie and the British Artists:  Katie has a magical art adventure exploring masterpieces by Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Katie and the Mona Lisa:  Katie tries to cheer La Giaconda up—with disastrous results!

Teaching ideas:

  • Choose a masterpiece and imagine what would happen if Katie stepped into it.
  • Learn more about each masterpiece Katie encounters.
  • Write or discuss alternate adventures for Katie.
  • Write a letter to Katie.  You can suggest topics (requests to become her sidekick, questions, suggestions for new adventures) or you can leave it open-ended.  Students may surprise you with their creativity.
  • Create a Katie’s Picture Show comic book.  Retell sequences from the book or create your own.
  • As a class, prepare a mini-lesson for younger students.  This could involve mini bios on the artists, listing sensory details in the paintings, or fun facts about the masterpieces.  Buddy up with a younger class and reread the book.  Then, partner students and let them present their work to the youngsters.
Posted in Academics,Accelerated Reader (AR),Book Lists,Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Feb 6, 2014

 

Choose Your Own Adventure Books in the Classroom

CYOA_JourneyUndertheSea_medium Kids love Choose Your Own Adventure books!  (CYOA for short.)  The books are fun for everyone, but they are magic for reluctant readers.  Here are some tips for using the books in your classroom.

Buy Choose Your Own Adventure books for all reading levels.  Classics are appropriate for students in grades 4 and up—provided those students read at grade level.  Remind your students that CYOA books look longer than they are, because you don’t read the whole thing.  Just know that the favorites from the 80s are not super easy.  Were kids better readers back then?

Check out the CYOA Dragonlarks series for younger readers.  These books are good for all students in grades 3 and up.  The print is bigger, there are illustrations—these books just look easier.  Everyone in an elementary class can enjoy these, although the truly struggling readers will need a buddy.

Make Choose Your Own Adventure a celebration!  Have class events to promote these books. Some ideas:

Set aside time for groups of 2-4 students to buddy read the books.  You’ll need space for everyone to read aloud, yet not be disturbed by nearby readers.  Your best behaved students might be able to form a group in the hall, freeing up space inside the classroom.

Use the books as readalouds.  This works well if you only have a few titles.  You can read, then let the class vote on what to do next.  This will hook students on the books, and then they can read on their own.

Create CYOA literature circles.  If you have multiple copies of a book, have students read independently, then meet as a group to discuss.  They can talk about different options, analyze character, and create a fun advertisement for the book to interest their classmates in reading it.

Write your own CYOA stories. this is a good challenge project for Gifted students and other high achievers.  Explain that students will want to map out their plot—that’s the easiest way to create the CYOA structure.  Then, they can write the pages for each section.

Click here to visit the Choose Your Own Adventure site.  You can read about the books, order individual titles or small group sets, and learn more about the renaissance of this fun series.  Click here for CYOA teacher’s guides.

Happy adventuring!  Choose wisely.

Posted in Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Nov 1, 2013

 

Your Class Will Love Bruno and Boots books by Gordon Korman

I cannot recommend Bruno and Boots books highly enough!  Prolific author Gordon Korman was a seventh grader when he began writing this sorta-series about two mischievous boys at a Canadian boarding school.  Your students will love these books!!!

Bruno and Boots love to play pranks and cause trouble at their boarding school, Macdonald Hall.  Bruno is the ringleader, a wisecracking con-artist-(or lawyer)-in-the-making who loves to stir the pot.  Boots is his faithful sidekick, a realistic boy who helps Bruno with mischief but also acts as a voice of reason.  The story works because the boys are good at heart.  They love their school and they do the right thing when it counts.  They are never mean to others—they are always in it for fun and looking to recruit new jokers.

The books are great for reluctant readers, boys in particular.  Readers must be reluctant, not remedial, because these books are not simple.  The AR levels range from 4.5 for the first, shortest book to 7.0 for the longer, more complex stories.  Students who can comfortably read at the 5.0 level will be fine with all of these books.  Don’t AR block kids from these books!

Bruno and Boots make good readalouds.  Your students will be in stitches, and you will be exposing them to higher vocabulary, longer sentence structure, and more complex plots that.  Plus, there is an element of rebelliousness to reading these books aloud.  Bruno and Boots operate outside Macdonald Hall law, and it’s pretty cool for a teacher to share these mischief-making secrets with students.  You may find your students attempting Bruno and Boots style shenanigans, but don’t worry.  Real-life kids will probably not achieve the success of Bruno and Boots.

Gordon Korman was in seventh grade when he turned an English assignment into his first book, This Can’t be Happening At Macdonald Hall!  Gordon was the Scholastic Arrow Book Club monitor for his class, and clearly he felt that gave him an “in” to the publishing industry.  After completing the assignment, he mailed his manuscript to Scholastic.  They published the book when Gordon was only 14 years old.

Gordon’s high school years yielded more fun Bruno and Boots books.  He continued to revisit the characters over the years, and readers eagerly devoured new Bruno and Boots books.

Geek out with the Wikipedia page about Bruno and Boots.  You can learn all about the characters, the setting, etc.  Then, learn more about Gordon Korman at Wikipedia or at his website.

Here are the books in order.  You don’t have to read them in order, though.  I didn’t.  As a kid, I read them in the order I found them at my local used bookstore.

This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall! (AR reading level 4.5, 3 pts)

Go Jump in the Pool! (AR reading level 5.0, 5 pts )

Beware the Fish! (AR reading level 4.8, 5 pts )

The War With Mr. Wizzle (also published as The Wizzle War) (AR reading level 4.6, 7 pts)

The Zucchini Warriors (AR reading level 5.0, 7 pts)

Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood (also published as Lights, Camera, Disaster!) (AR reading level 4.7, 7 pts)

Something Fishy At Macdonald Hall (also published as The Joke’s on Us) (AR reading level 4.6, 6 pts)

 

Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Aug 23, 2013

 

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Advice Books from American Girl

knowingwhattosaySavvy girls will love the Smart Girl’s Guide series from American Girl.  Everything connected to American Girl is top quality, and the Smart Girl’s Guides are no exception.  I highly recommend them for classroom use and feel they would be excellent for the school psychologists and social worker’s lending library.

Titles abound, but the first one I read was A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say: Finding the Words to Fit Any Situation.

The books are really fun, with lots of pictures and whitespace, but ample content.  The books are easy on the eyes and relaxing to read.

…Knowing What to Say really does cover any situation.  Here are the subsections:

Small Talk (I love “25 things to say after ‘hi'”)
Asking for What You Want
Making It Right
That Hurts
Sad Times
I’m Embarrassed
Saying the Right Thing

Illustrations show students the importance of posture, body language, and facial expressions in communication.  That way, girls can make sure their nonverbal signals are on par their newfound conversational prowess.    The book is full of quizzes, simple exercises, and demonstrations.

The American Girl books are excellent, and I encourage my boys to read the fiction series.  However, these Smart Girl’s books are way too girly for boys to read with any dignity during class.  Even reading them at home is risky–the wrong kid finds out, and the boy’s rep takes a dive.

Not to worry: as a teacher, you can read the books, then teach students these tips.  (Just don’t mention your source.)  If you’re like me, you will find the books relaxing and fun to read.  You will be positively itching to share the information with students.

There are many books in the series.  Enjoy Smart Girl’s Guides to…

Boys
Liking Herself, Even on the Bad Days
Friendship Troubles
Her Parents’ Divorce: How to Land on Your Feet When Your World Turns Upside Down (American Girl)
The Internet
Knowing What to Say
Manners
Starting Middle School
Money
Parties
Staying Home Alone
Surviving Tricky, Sticky, Icky Situations
Style
Understanding Her Family

The books retail for $9.95 each*.  A smart teacher will try to get the school library fund to pay for the series, or apply for a grant—from an outside source or from the PTSO.  I really think many schools would be better for owning these books.

*They run a little cheaper at bookstores: most are about $8.95 on Amazon


 

American Girl Teaching Guides

American Girls SeriesThe American Girl series is just wonderful for introducing elementary school students to history. For each era, there is an irrepressible character with many books, games, and often even a movie to hook students on that time period. Students comprehend history lessons more easily if they can relate them to the experiences of an American Girl.

Today, the American Girl Teaching Guides! These are high-quality materials, just like everything from this company. You will find printable worksheets, easy-to-teach lessons, and ideas for connecting the books to character lessons as well as academic content.

Example: the Kit teaching guide focus on the Great Depression, giving, and resourcefulness. Worksheets encourage students to relate to Kit’s experiences with the Depression, make judgment calls about giving, conserve today’s resources by applying the lessons of the Depression, and even create their own messages in hobo code.  The materials are very high quality, and the worksheets would have taken you a while to develop. Good, time-saving stuff!

Here are the teaching guides. Each link opens a file in pdf format.

Addy: Freedom, the Civil War, and Life After Slavery

Caroline: Patriotism, Heroism, and the War of 1812

Chrissa: Bullying and How to Stop It

Felicity: Loyalty, Independence, and the Revolutionary War

Josefina: Spanish Culture and the Settlement of the Southwest

Julie: Equality, the Environment, and Facing Change

Kaya: Native American Life and the Nez Perce Tribe

Kirsten: Pioneer Life, Cultural Differences, and Helping One Another

Kit: The Great Depression, Giving, and Resourcefulness

Lanie: Animal Habitats and Observing Birds and Butterflies

Marie-Grace and Cécile: Diversity, Community, and Point of View

McKenna: Self-Esteem, Goal Setting, and Encouraging Self & Others

Molly: Cooperation, Adaptability, and Resourcefulness

Rebecca: Immigrants, Old Ways and New Ways, and Doing the Right Thing

Samantha: Innovation, Generosity, and Family


 

Fun and Educational Games on the American Girl Website

American Girls SeriesThe American Girl series of books have been so helpful in my classrooms—whether I taught 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. The books do a wonderful job of dramatizing eras in our country’s history, which helps students build a schema that helps them comprehend new content. (More simply, kids will understand a lesson about the Great Depression more easily if they read some books about Kit.)

Previously, I have written about the American Girl books and movies. Now, I want to extol the virtues of the American Girl online games.

There are games for all the American Girl characters. Some are mostly educational, others are mostly fun. All the games make students more interested in American Girl characters and books.

My best use of the American Girl online games was as an incentive for my American Girl challenge. I challenged my class to read at least one book about each of the historical characters. We set benchmarks with rewards: read 2 books and you can watch the Kit movie with the class, read 4 and we’ll watch the Felicity movie, etc.

Students who kept up also got to play the American Girl games during specially scheduled computer lab time. (Students who were behind on their reading sat in the back and read.) After one of those sessions, my students decided to get on board and do their reading so they could participate fully in the American Girl awesomeness.

Even the boys liked it! I take sexism out of it as much as I can. I tell the entire class that there is nothing like American Girl for boys, and so the girls owe it to the boys to not tease them about reading books about girls. That speech does the trick because the students understand that they have the power to create the environment they want to learn in.

There are several ways to access the games. I have listed many because they might help you create links for your class.

General access to games

Historical characters: this displays the game menus for all. Click on the girl whose era you want to teach.

Girl of the year: These are modern girls. Click on the girl for access to books, games, etc.

List of American Girls with links to their books:

Kaya 1764: a Native American Girl

Felicity Merriman , 1774: a horse-loving girl caught between Patriot and Loyalist family and friends during the American Revolution

Josefina Montoya , 1824: lives in New Mexico when it was part of Mexico

Kirsten Larson , 1854: a Swedish immigrant who settles in the Minnesota Territory

Addy Walker , 1864: a fugitive slave who escapes to Pennsylvania during the Civil War

Samantha Parkington , 1904: an orphan being raised by a wealthy family during the Victorian period

Rebecca Rubin , 1914: a Jewish girl growing up in the Lower East Side of New York City

Kit Kittredge , 1934: faces the hard times of the Great Depression

Molly McIntire , 1944: keeps the home fires burning during World War II

Julie Albright , 1974: A San Francisco girl facing the changes of the mid-1970s

Posted in Book Lists,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 28, 2012

 

Black & White – A Crystal Kite Award Winner

Black and White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor
by Larry Dane Brimner
AR book level 8.7/Point value: 4
Available at Amazon.com

Take your civil rights lessons beyond Dr. King with this insightful book about the conflict in Birmingham. Few things in life are black and white, but I don’t see any other way to spin the conflict between civil rights leader Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and segregationist Eugene “Bull” Connor. After reading about civil rights activists being bombed, jailed, attacked, and killed, I think your students will agree that Black & White is a fitting title.

I learned about Black & White at a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. Author Larry Dane Brimner received the prestigious Crystal Kite Award for this book. After hearing his acceptance speech and attending a breakout session on how he wrote the book, I knew I had to read it, review it, and most importantly, share it.

Black & White has plenty of photos that help the reader believe the incomprehensible events that occurred in Birmingham during the civil rights movement. Today’s students are at least one generation removed from the civil rights movement and they truly might not believe some of what happened.

Accelerated Reader classifies the book as the 8.7 reading level, and I have to agree. This book is perfect for middle school. Older elementary students may enjoy it, but the descriptions of the important legal battles may be difficult for them to understand.

If the book is too difficult for your students, you might want to read it yourself and then teach students from it. They can learn a lot by looking at the pictures and listening to you tell about Reverend Shuttlesworth and Bull Connor. Author Larry Dane Brimner shows how Reverend Shuttlesworth was able to use Bull Connor’s zeal against him, ultimately showing the country just how bad things were in Birmingham and paving the way for real change.

To me, the climax of Black & White is the children’s march. The world was horrified to see images of police dogs and fire hoses turned on the young demonstrators. Black & White coordinates well with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s documentary Mighty Times: The Children’s March. You can request a FREE teaching kit with lessons and the movie.

Here’s the link to the official teacher’s guide for Black & White.  Be sure to visit author Larry Dane Brimner’s site. You can learn about his books and find out how to book him for an author visit or professional conference.

Posted in Book Reviews,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 3, 2012

 

Book Review: Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison

AR Quiz number 153577/Reading Level 3.3/Point Value 0.5

As National Board Certified Teacher, I know that Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison is highly educational and entertaining.  Students and teachers will enjoy extended study with the activities, printable worksheets, and discussion guides in the comprehensive (52 pages!) teacher’s guide.

Darcy Pattison writes beautifully, but the clever use of figurative language and literary devices does not distract.  Students will enjoy the vivid imagery and description heightened by Kathleen Rietz’s illustrations.  Teachers will be glad to point out the many examples of onomatopoeia, vivid verbs, descriptive adjectives and varied sentence structure.

The information is interesting; it’s not often we think about whether desert creatures take baths, let alone how they do so.  Students will enjoy seeing the different techniques for cleanliness in a dry place.  Kids love animals, so this book is a natural fit.

The book features several activities printed at the end, but there is much, much more in the extensive Teacher’s Guide.  Click here to view or download the 52 page manual.  Many of the resources are a snap to use—ready to print vocabulary lists, Mad-Libs style activities, worksheets, quizzes and more.  Other ideas are more involved, like a STEM activity to build a bird bath or a printable card game to sort desert animals.

Click here for school visit info—everything you need to organize a visit from author Darcy Pattison.

Full disclosure: I didn’t just happen upon this book.  I have followed Darcy’s career since attending her one of her Novel Revision Retreats a few years ago.  If you write, either casually or for publication, check out Darcy’s resources.  Her website is a treasure trove of ideas you won’t find elsewhere, and her books Novel Metamorphosis and Paper Lightning are must-have resources.

Posted in Academics,Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Oct 19, 2012

 

Amelia Bedelia in the Classroom

Idiom-challenged maid Amelia Bedelia has delighted children since 1963.  Who can resist a maid who doesn’t understand how to draw the drapes or put out the lights?  Amelia Bedelia’s good intentions and delicious desserts carry her through.

Interestingly enough, I have noticed that most children don’t enjoy the humor of Amelia Bedelia unless they are taught how to appreciate it.  Like Amelia Bedelia, children are very literal and they just don’t get the jokes.   I think kids enjoy Amelia Bedelia books best if they hear several of them read aloud.  That way, the students can help each other explain the idioms.  If you are lucky, one or two kids will get each joke, and they can explain them to the class.  Once the students understand Amelia Bedelia books, rereading them makes for good fluency practice.

Amelia Bedelia books are time-honored vehicles for teaching children about idioms.  This is especially helpful to English Language Learners (ELL students).  Idioms are hard to pick up—notice I used an idiom to explain the quandary.

In addition to the classic Amelia Bedelia books, your students will enjoy reading Herman Parish’s books about young Amelia Bedelia and her first experiences at school.  The books are charming and will make your students feel like seasoned vets as they chuckle over how confusing school is to young Amelia.  You can read a sample here at the Harper Collins website.

Tip for standardized test prep: it’s tough to answer a question about explaining the idiom if you don’t know what an idiom is.  Your students will face this problem unless you periodically review the meaning of words like “idiom.”  It’s easy to lose sight of vocabulary basics in fun lessons, so remember to bring the kids back to the definition.

Resources for Amelia Bedelia and Idioms

List of Amelia Bedelia books
Available at Amazon.com

Amelia Bedelia (1963) – Wiki link
Thank You, Amelia Bedelia (1964)
Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower (1966)
Come Back, Amelia Bedelia (1971)
Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia (1972)
Good Work, Amelia Bedelia (1976)
Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia (1977)
Amelia Bedelia Helps Out (1979)
Amelia Bedelia and the Baby (1981)
Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping (1985)
Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia (1986)
Amelia Bedelia’s Family Album (1988)
Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia (1995)
Bravo, Amelia Bedelia! (1997)
Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor (1999)
Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia (2002)
Amelia Bedelia and the Christmas List (2003)
Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm (2003)
Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia (2004)
Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School (2004)
Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia (2004)
Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist? (2005)
Amelia Bedelia’s Masterpiece (2007)
Amelia Bedelia Under Construction (2007)
Amelia Meets Emilie Castro (2007)
Amelia Bedelia and the Cat (2008)
Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School (2009)
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine (2009)
Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend (2011)

 

Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ May 3, 2012

 

Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day

On Saint Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish!  Have some fun with your class.

Preparation: get a class shamrock plant.  (Bonus points if you can convince a parent to donate it!)

Ask the kids to save their milk cartons from lunch.  Use them to take home a piece of the class shamrock plant.  Students can repot a piece of the shamrock plant and grow their own at home.  Learn how to grow a shamrock plant at ehow.com

If you are learning about immigration in Social Studies, tie the Irish immigrant experience in with your Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.  You could talk with your class about how Irish immigrants were treated and compare it to immigration today.  The countries of origin have changed, but in many ways, how people view immigrants remains the same.  Read Eve Bunting’s Dreaming of America: An Ellis Island Story.

Grownups, take this opportunity to read a book by a wonderful Irish writer, Maeve Binchy.  Her books immerse you in Ireland, and you know her characters better than you know your own family.  Tara Road is her magnum opus, and her newer books all feature that Dublin neighborhood.  Every single book by Maeve Binchy is wonderful.  I read them over and over again.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 13, 2012

 

Learning with the Lorax

Here are some fun ideas for Learning with the Lorax from a National Board Certified Teacher.  

The Lorax, the latest Dr. Seuss movie adaptation, stars Zac Efron and Taylor Swift voicing Ted and Audry.  Kids will demand fan activities for these two popular actors right away, so here are some ways parents and teachers can be really cool.  Don’t tell the kids that these activities also tie in nicely with NEA Read Across America Day!


 

Lorax Games

> Don’t Whack the Lorax: a game tie-in with the movie
> Ted’s Scooter Dodge: a game tie-in with the movie
> Dodgeberry Blast: a game tie-in with the movie
> Hummingfish & Swomee-Swan Survival: a game tie-in with the movie
The Lorax Quest Game at Seussville: You are in charge of truffula seeds. And truffula seeds are what everyone needs! Gather the truffula seeds from the characters and help the Lorax grow a whole new forest! To reach the game, go to the Seussville Games Page and click “forth” until you come to the Lorax game.

Lorax Worksheets from Random House:

> How Many? A fun counting worksheet—count how many you see in the picture! Your students will need a good working knowledge of The Lorax to complete this worksheet.
> Dear Mother Earth: Write a letter to Mother Earth stating what you will do to help preserve her. The worksheet is basically nice Lorax-themed stationery.
> Lorax Maze:  Help the objects find their way to the recycling bin.

Lorax Writing Contest: Every Inkling Makes a Difference. The contest opens March 2nd. Your students can write an online story describing one creative idea for living sustainably. The grand prize is a $10,000 scholarship. There are 3 prizes in two categories: grades 3-5 and 6-8. Click here for the student printable explaining the contest.

Read The Lorax, Available at Amazon.com

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Mar 2, 2012

 

Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2012

Author Award Winner:
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
by Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator.

The story is told from the viewpoint of an elderly woman who shares her life story while highlighting pivotal historical events including abolition, the Great Migration, World War II, and the Civil Rights movement.

Watch Kadir Nelson’s video description of the book:

Illustrator Award Winner:
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom

Shane W. Evans’ effective interplay of dark and light characterizes this portrayal of a band of slaves’ nighttime escape.

Author Honor:
The Great Migration: Journey to the North
by Eloise Greenfield

Greenfield’s book describes the Great Migration of 1915-1930, when African-American families left their homes in the South and moved to the North.

Never Forgotten
by Patricia C. McKissack

Watch an interview with Patricia and Frederick McKissack, who began writing books when they decided they wanted to do something about the lack of children’s stories about African Americans.

Illustrator Honor:
Kadir Nelson was honored for his illustrations in Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans.

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:
Ashley Bryan, storyteller, artist, author, poet, and musician whose numerous awards include the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Let it Shine and Beautiful Blackbird.

Watch a video interview with Ashley Bryan.

From the American Library Association website: Given to African American authors and illustrators for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society. The award is designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

Posted in Book Lists,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 23, 2012

 

Introducing my new book, Double Switched!

bookI am pleased to announce the release of the third installment in the Buckley School Books: Double Switched. It’s about Connor, who knows he will be a Major League Baseball star—if he can just get through sixth grade.

Connor’s dad says make straight A’s or no baseball—but that’s not so easy when Connor has been Double Switched. Switched ballparks, switched classes, switched baseball positions—the bases are loaded with problems for Connor. Can he live up to his dad’s high standards? Would his hero Jackie Robinson approve of the choices Connor makes?

Double Switched is loads of fun, with action and comic misadventure. There is also a serious side. When Connor’s dad talks about growing up in the desegregated South, he draws on stories my mom told me about life during the Civil Rights movement. In Double Switched, I honor my mom’s childhood heroes: Cheryl and Eloise, two brave girls who integrated her junior high school in Montgomery, Alabama.

Inspired by his heroes, Connor sets out to address an inequality staring him in the face—his younger sister Nisha’s experience with softball. For Nisha, everything is less-than: poorly maintained fields require endless fundraising to fix up, poorly attended games give her no opportunity to shine. Connor, Nisha and friends put on a Boys Against Girls exhibition game to bring awareness and needed funds to level the playing field.

I hope you enjoy Double Switched. Visit the official Double Switched website for fun activities and features created by the kids in the book. (My favorite is You are the Umpire, but I think you will also like Chris’s Southern Recipes and Baseball Superstitions.)

Posted in Book Reviews,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Dec 6, 2011

 

Kids Need to Read! A Charity by Nathan Fillion

I have a soft spot for stories about writers. When I discovered the TV series Castle, I was hooked at first sight. I really appreciate the high quality work of the writers of the show- and the constant challenge: can I solve the mystery before Richard Castle does?

Then there’s a fun twist: As a promotion for the show, “Richard Castle’s” book Heat Wave was released in hardcover by Hyperion and debuted at #26 on The New York Times Best Seller list, ultimately moving up to #6. The second novel Naked Heat debuted at #7 on The New York Times Best Seller list.

What’s not to love about a fictional fiction writer portrayed by Nathan Fillion?

There’s a lot more to love, actually.

Castle star Nathan Fillion co-founded Kids Need to Read, an organization dedicated to getting more books into underfunded libraries:

“Growing up, my parents managed to show me the importance of reading without cramming it down my throat. A difficult task, I’m sure. It breaks my heart to think that there are kids out there, ready to have their imaginations lit on fire, excited and wanting to read, and facing naked shelves in their school or local libraries.”

Now I have a soft spot for Kids Need to Read, and I hope you will, too. Kids Need to Read focuses on stressed populations, such as juvenile offenders, impoverished urban teenagers, and youth faced with learning challenges. KNTR assists educators who are devoted to helping such children overcome the odds and succeed through worthwhile literacy programs. You can request donations online.

I can tell you from experience that helping kids in these circumstances select a book to read is both personally and professionally satisfying. Even greater is finding out that your encouragement came at a time that made a difference in that young person’s life.

I’ll be donating and volunteering. Hope you will, too!

 

 

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Sep 15, 2011

 

The Children’s Choice Book Award: Author of the Year

bookRick Riordan won the Author of the Year Award for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1)

The Children’s Choice Book Awards lets young readers voice their opinions by voting for the books they like.  Of course, the hope behind this program is that kids will make their own reading lists and develop a love of reading.  Kids cast more than 500,000 votes online this year.

My students love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.  The students who can read at that level are very proud of their accomplishments, and their success motivates others. 

My class formed a Percy Jackson fan club that celebrated all things about Greek mythology.  They were especially democratic by not demanding that club members had to have read the Percy Jackson books to join the club.  The result was a lot of fun and sharing on their own time—things that make a teacher’s heart soar.

Thank you, Rick Riordan, for your contributions to KidLit!

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ May 11, 2011