Summer Reading: Get hooked on reading a series!

If your child likes one book in a series, encourage him to read all the books in the series.  Your child will feel more like he chose the book and he will be more vested in reading.  Teachers, librarians or booksellers can advise you on a series at the right age and reading level. 

My high readers in third grade loved the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Children’s Choice Book Award Winner: Author of the Year. Their  enjoyment inspired other students in the class to raise their own reading levels so they could read the five books in the series about Greek mythology set in modern-day America.  More than 20 million copies of the books have been sold in more than 35 countries.

Available at Amazon.com:
The Lightning Thief (Book 1)
The Sea of Monsters (Book 2)
The Titan’s Curse (Book 3)
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4)
The Last Olympian (Book 5)

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney started on Funbrain.com in 2004, appearing  as blog posts.  Now, the series tops the New York Times best seller lists.  My students love Poptropica, the online game that Jeff Kinney produces during his day job at an Internet company.  There are popular movies out for the first two books.  Share them with your kids!

Available at Amazon.com:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2)
The Last Straw (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3)
Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4)
The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5)

And of course, the Harry Potter series and movies are magnificent (available at Amazon.com).  I have read that series countless times, and before each new movie is released, my family watches all the old movies again so we don’t miss anything. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be released on July 15, 2011.  I’ll be there! 

A bit of self promotion: my Buckley School Books series has 2 volumes available now.  I plan to write one book for each kid in Mr. Hoker’s class!

Zapped! (Buckley School Books #1)
Brainstorm (Buckley School Books #2)
Double Switched (Buckley School Books #3 coming soon)

Posted in Book Lists by Corey Green @ Jun 1, 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

 

New release—Brainstorm: Buckley School Books #2

bookThis spring marks the release of the second installment in the Buckley School Books—Brainstorm.  It follows the misadventures of Brian and features mystery, suspense, misadventure, and the world’s weirdest dog.  I hope you enjoy it!

What good is being so smart…
…when your brainstorms backfire?

They don’t call him Brian the Brain for nothing: Brian is very smart. Sometimes Brian is too smart for his own good and his brainstorms backfire.

Brian has a brainstorm to solve two problems: his horrible nickname (Barfy) and all the homework help questions his classmates send him every night. Brian creates AskBarfy, a homework help website and the only time kids can call him Barfy.

Brainstorm backfire: Classmates get jealous when AskBarfy gets famous.

Brainstorm: Brian distracts the kids with a mystery that emails show criminals are planning to steal art from the Buckley Museum.

Brainstorm backfire: the robbery is real!

Can the kids stop the robbers?

Children’s middle-grade fiction.
Audience: Ages 9-12.

Zapped! – Buckley School Books #1 is also available online.

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ May 9, 2011

 

April Fools Day – Not just for kids!

bookI am posting this a bit early so my teacher-readers can create lesson plans.

April Fools Day celebrates pranks, hoaxes and silliness.  Many people believe it originated from a line in “Nun’s Priest’s Tale.”  This was the story of Chanticleer and the Fox in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392).  Readers misunderstood a line to mean “32nd of March.”  Chaucer’s poem was made into a book titled Chanticleer and the Fox, written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.  Her book won the 1959 Caldecott Medal.

Some fun April Fools pranks from The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time:

* In 1915, during World War I, a French aviator flew over a German camp and dropped what appeared to be a huge bomb. German soldiers immediately scattered, but no explosion followed. Finally, the soldiers gingerly approached the bomb, only to discover it was just a large football with a note tied to it: “April Fool!”

* The BBC announced that Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop in 1957; the show included  footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees.  BBC’s instructions for growing a spaghetti tree:  “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

* In 1975, an Australian news program reported that the country would soon be converting to “metric time.” Under the new system there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days.

* A newspaper story ran in London in 1981 about a Japanese long-distance runner who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The runner was reported somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race; even though various people had spotted him, they were unable to flag him down.

* The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0.  This became an Internet sensation: the Alabama legislature soon began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation.

April Fools Day is a perfect occasion to tell you more about my book,  Zapped!

Inventing Stan was easy…
making Stan behave is impossible!

Kyle, the new kid at Buckley Elementary School, invents an imaginary scapegoat to deflect the blame for a prank that goes wrong in class. How perfect — the kids can play pranks and never get into trouble!  When Stan takes on a life of his own, the kids get into more trouble than they ever imagined. The kids discover making Stan behave is impossible.
Children’s middle-grade fiction.
Audience: Ages 9-12.

Now for something real: On April 1, 2007, the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book came out.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Mar 30, 2011

 

Hurray for a new Maeve Binchy book!

bookToday is an exciting day—it’s the US release of Maeve Binchy’s newest book: Minding Frankie!

Maeve Binchy is my favorite writer for grownups.  Her books about everyday Irish life immerse you in a world that feels utterly real.  Maeve’s style is very slice-of-life, but by the end of each book, you will be shocked at how much has happened.

Binchy’s most famous books are Circle of Friends and Tara Road, both of which were made into movies.  (Read the books first.)  Circle of Friends is about college students in 1950s Dublin, focusing on two girls from a small Irish town, each unaware of their own families’ secrets and tragedies.  Tara Road is about two heartbroken women, one Irish and one American, who trade houses for the summer.  In both books, you know the characters’ friends and family for over a decade.  Peeking through those Irish lace curtains reveals some interesting hidden motives that drive irresistable page-turning plots.

What does this have to do with education?  I believe that reading Maeve Binchy’s books can teach you more about human nature than you could ever learn in a lifetime of just living.  Because Maeve Binchy uses third person omniscient point of view, you can delve into the hearts and minds of people you’d like to meet in real life.  Read enough of her books and you’ll start to predict the actions of the people in your life quite accurately.  Very useful for a teacher!  (Or anyone, really.)

Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy’s newest book, continues a saga of books about two neighborhoods in Dublin: Tara Road and St. Jarlath’s Crescent.  It’s so interesting to see characters who starred in their own books figure as background characters in a new story.  It’s like being part of a village—an almost unimaginable experience for this Air Force brat!

All of Maeve Binchy’s books are wonderful, but my favorites are her modern books with interlacing characters.

Tara Road: two women trade houses for the summer

Evening Class: lives of students and staff intertwine in an evening Italian language class

Scarlet Feather: two likeable young people start a catering company—and discover that the food is the easy part!

Quentins: while facing a huge scandal, Ella Brady creates a documentary about Quentins, a restaurant that embodies the spirit (and social lives) of modern Dublin

Nights of Rain and Stars: (set in Greece—but some characters appear in Heart and Soul)

Heart and Soul: the dramatic lives of patients and staff at a heart clinic

Minding Frankie: a neighborhood cares for a baby

For a complete list of Maeve Binchy’s works, visit her website or her Amazon page.

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Mar 1, 2011

 

Kids Don’t Read Beverly Cleary

bookI’m sorry to tell you a harsh truth: kids don’t read Beverly Cleary books.  Not like they used to, that’s for sure.

The Ramona & Beezus movie was wonderful, but the box office take was disappointing.  (I think it will have a long life as a DVD and Blu-Ray.)  All my students who saw the movie absolutely loved it, but none of them had read the books beforehand.

Kids don’t read Beverly Cleary!  Why?

You and I loved her books as children, but they’re a little old now.  Some elements are dated, particularly the books about Henry Huggins and the early Ramona books.

The main reason kids don’t read Beverly Cleary has to do with AR (Accelerated Reader).  Beverly Cleary’s books are written at a high reading level, according to AR.  (The formula is based on length of sentences, length of words, etc.  I’m not sure about the details because I think it’s top secret.)

For example, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 is clearly written for a third-grade audience.  The book’s reading level is 5.6.   Most kids are not allowed to read above their AR reading level, so they can’t read the Beverly Cleary books when they are at the age the books are aimed for.  By the time kids reach the fifth and sixth grade reading levels, they want to move on to harder and more macho books, like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.

I think it’s too bad.  Beverly Cleary books are wonderful.  I can’t imagine life without them, actually.

On the other hand, I have to say that in my experience, when kids read above their reading level, comprehension suffers and students rarely actually finish the book.  They just lug it around to look impressive.

Obviously, as a future writer and teacher, I was an advanced reader as a kid.  However, many of my classmates also read Beverly Cleary books.  I have to wonder if more of today’s students would read the books should AR downgrade the reading level.

As a teacher or parent, I hope you will read Beverly Cleary books aloud and recommend them to students who are ready for them.  If you teach fifth and sixth graders, try to push them into Beverly Cleary books.  You know they’ll like them!  You can also recommend the books Beverly Cleary wrote for teens.  My favorite is The Luckiest Girl, but I also loved Fifteen and Sister of the Bride.

A sampling of Beverly Cleary AR reading levels:  (This isn’t all her books.  There are soooo many!)

Ramona Quimby, Age 8: 5.6
Ramona Forever: 4.8
Beezus and Ramona: 4.8
Ramona and Her Father: 5.2
Ramona and Her Mother: 4.8
Ramona’s World: 4.8
Ellen Tebbits: 4.9
Henry Huggins: 4.7
Henry and the Clubhouse: 5.1
Mitch and Amy: 6.2
Emily’s Runaway Imagination: 6.1
A Girl from Yamhill (Beverly Cleary’s Autobiography): 6.5
Fifteen: 5.4
The Luckiest Girl: 5.9


 

The Stories Julian Tells

bookby Ann Cameron
AR book level 3.4  1 point
Available from Amazon.com

I first learned about The Stories Julian Tells because we have an excerpt in our Harcourt reading textbook.  Now, I am a big believer in Julian!  You will be so glad to know that there are many books about Julian.

In The Stories Julian Tells, author Ann Cameron creates a memorable family.  You will love Julian, a nine-year-old with a big imagination and a gift for telling stories.  His little brother Huey is cute as can be.  Julian’s dad is larger-than-life: a strict father who is even funnier and more imaginative than Julian.  Julian’s mom is a wonderful, warm character.

The Stories Julian Tells is an incredibly funny, warm and comforting book.  It makes a wonderful read aloud for the classroom.  However, I think a huge added educational value comes from the author’s rich description and imaginative use of figurative language.

For example, in the first chapter, Julian, Huey and their father make a lemon pudding for Mom: a lemon pudding that tastes like “a night on the sea” and “a whole raft of lemons.”  When dad wakes up from his nap to find that Julian and Huey ate the whole pudding, the boys are in for a whipping and a beating—Julian whips the pudding, and Huey beats the egg whites.  Mom tastes the new pudding—it’s just like a night on the sea and a whole raft of lemons!

My favorite story in the book is called “Because of Figs.”  When Julian was three, his dad gave him a fig tree that would grow up with him.  When the tree grew taller but Julian didn’t, Julian felt left behind.  Naturally, the solution was to eat the fig leaves to help him grow.  (They taste like spinach, so they must be good for you.)  Years later, Julian is bigger but the tree hasn’t grown at all.  Finally, Julian realizes that the leaves belong to the tree.  Now both tree and boy can grow up together.

My students absolutely love The Stories Julian Tells.  They are nuts about the companion books, like Julian, Secret Agent , More Stories Julian Tells, and Julian, Dream Doctor.  There are also great books about other characters in the series, like Gloria (who might be Julian’s best friend) and Huey, Julian’s little brother.

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Nov 17, 2010

 

Molly’s Pilgrim

bookby Barbara Cohen
AR book level 3.0   0.5 points
Available at Amazon.com

Molly’s Pilgrim is a classic that deserves a place in your classroom library.  It can be read any time, but it is particularly poignant in November.

In November, we think of pilgrims as the Puritans landing on Plymouth Rock.  However, Molly’s Pilgrim reminds us that other pilgrims came to this country for religious freedom.

Molly is a young Russian-Jewish immigrant who feels out of place in America.  Molly’s school assignment is to make a Pilgrim doll.  Molly’s clothespin Pilgrim doll resembles her mother rather than a Puritan Pilgrim, teaching her classmates an important lesson about religious freedom in America.

Molly’s Pilgrim was made into an Academy award-winning short movieIt is available on Amazon.com.

Molly’s Pilgrim is great as a read aloud, but if you wanted make it into a unit of study, you might consider buying A Guide for Using Molly’s Pilgrim in the Classroom, from Teacher Created Materials.


 

Little Critter Workbooks Get Results!

bookI have found a magical teaching tool: Spectrum Publishing’s Little Critter Reading.  It’s a workbook with the perfect format: an engaging story based on the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer, followed by a worksheet covering comprehension, phonics, and study skills.  Students beg to use it and groan when we put it away.

In my experience, Little Critter Reading improves a reader’s skills by a whole grade level.

You can buy Little Critter Reading at two levels: grade 1 and grade 2.  Grade 2 is appropriate for students in second and third grade.  Grade 1 helps students make the remarkable transformation from reading three sentences on a page to reading several paragraphs—in the space of one workbook.  Grade 1 is great for English Language Learners.

I recommend Little Critter Reading books for the classroom and for the home.  At home, a parent or older sibling can tutor a struggling reader with Little Critter Reading books.

How to use Little Critter Reading:

1.  Read the story to your students.  Very important—think how much better they can read if they already know what it sounds like!
2.  Let the student(s) read aloud with you.  This way, you’re pulling the student along and helping her experience fluency.  For the whole class, choral read the passage.
3.  If time and patience allow, the student can read the story aloud without your help.
4.  Do the worksheet that goes with the story.  You might have to teach a mini lesson on topics such as root words, ABC order, verb tense, etc.  Kids quickly catch on and complete the lesson easily.
5.  Review the lesson.

One caveat: you are not supposed to photocopy Little Critter Reading workbooks.  I applied for a grant and bought a class set of the workbook.  I use it with my third graders at the beginning of the year.  We put a page protector over the worksheet page and write on the page protector with an Expo marker.  We erase with old socks.

Students who behave well get to draw on the page protector for two minutes!

Seriously, I can’t recommend Little Critter Reading highly enough.


 

April is School Library Month

Laurie Halse Anderson“School libraries are the foundation of our culture, not luxuries.”
Laurie Halse Anderson
Official Spokesperson for School Library Month

Now more than ever, it is important to recognize School Library Month.  School libraries and school librarians are vulnerable when states and districts face budget cuts.  Show your school’s students, teachers, staff, parents and friends how important the school library is to education.

Activities for School Library Month:
 — Make posters advertising the school library.  (Learn about techniques of persuasion while you’re at it!)
 — Create video or audio announcements about school libraries to show on the school announcements.
 — Imagine a school without the library.  Have your students write about what this would be like, and the opportunities they would lose.
Make a class book about reading and the library.  Have each student write and illustrate an essay, poem or letter.  Have your class vote on a theme.  Examples: “Reading Takes us Places,” “Choose Your Freedom, Learn to Read,” or “Readers are Leaders!”

About Laurie Halse Anderson: She is a bestselling author of such novels as Speak, Fever 1793, Wintergirls, Catalyst, and Chains.  Many of Laurie’s books are YA (Young Adult) and are not written for the elementary classroom.

I have used Fever 1793 for fifth graders.  Students enjoy this story of the Yellow Fever epidemic in Phildelphia.  It connects especially well to lessons on American History and the American Revolution.   Laurie says she gets the most fan mail about her Vet Volunteers series, written for fourth to sixth grade students.

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 2, 2010

 

Great Books for Presidents’ Day

We honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on Presidents’ Day.  In the classroom or at home, you can enjoy great books about Presidents’ Day.

My favorite Presidents Book!!!!  So You Want to be President? (AR Reading Level  4.8; 0.5 points)  This Caldecott-winning book has witty illustrations that perfectly complement the clever premise: analyzing what it takes to become president.  (Hint: it helps if your name is James.  Being born in a log cabin helps, too.)

Presidents’ Day by Robin Nelson (AR Reading Level  2.4; 0.5 points)  A simple introduction to Presidents’ Day.  This is easily read by students in second grade and up.

Presidents’ Day by Anne Rockwell.  This is a cute book for younger readers, about a class that puts on a play for Presidents’ Day.

Fun with Presidents’ Day:

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid (AR Reading Level 3.0; 1 point)  From the popular Stink Series, this book shows Stink, the shortest kid in second grade, learning about the shortest president as his class learns about Presidents’ Day.

Yo, Millard Fillmore! (And All Those Other Presidents You Don’t Know) (AR Reading Level 6.6; 1 point) A book of cartoons to help you remember all the presidents in order.  Kids love it!

Observation: Don’t let the reading level put you off.  This book is mostly cartoons.  Kids can read the mini-biographies of the presidents if they like, but most just want to see the cartoons and memorize the presidents.

About George Washington:

George Washington and the General’s Dog (AR Reading Level 2.5; 0.5 points) This lighthearted easy reader links two of kids’ favorite subjects: George Washington and dogs.  Children can learn little-known facts about Washington: did you know he named his dog Sweetlips?  Children will be impressed with Washington’s strength of character and how he could be kind to his enemies.

George Washington’s Socks (AR Reading Level 5.0; 6 points) An overnight campout turns into a time-travel journey to the Battle of Trenton.  Children will cross the Delaware River with Washington in a harrowing and thrilling adventure.  I love how this book shows the human side of war.  My fifth graders love it!  We have a class set.

About Abraham Lincoln:

Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman.  (AR Reading Level 7.7; 5 points.)  This Newbery Medal winner is the gold standard.  Combining elegant yet easy-to-read biography with stunning photographs, this book teaches kids everything they need to know about Lincoln.  This book is entertaining, educational, and moving.  I cannot recommend it too highly!

Observation: Lincoln: A Photobiography has an  AR level of 7.7 but because of the pictures, the book is accessible to fifth and sixth graders.   Parents or teachers might need to explain historical context.

Posted in Book Lists,Fun With Literacy,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Feb 13, 2010

 

Award-winning titles to feature for Black History Month 2010

Coretta Scott King Book Awards 2010

Author Award WinnerBad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, is the King Author Book winner.  The book is illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.  AR Reading Level 5.2; 0.5 points.

Illustrator Award WinnerMy People
, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., is the King Illustrator Book winner. The book was written by Langston Hughes.  Visit Amazon’s Langston Hughes page.

Author Honor BookMare’s War by Tanita S. Davis.  AR Reading Level 4.9; 12.0 points.

Illustrator Honor BooksThe Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes.  Here is a video clip of Langston Hughes explaining the origin of his poem and then reading it aloud:

John Steptoe New Talent Author AwardThe Rock and the River, written by Kekla Magoon.  AR Reading Level 3.9; 8.0 points

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime AchievementWalter Dean Myers is the winner of this first-ever Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.  The award pays tribute to the quality and magnitude of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton.

Myers’ books include: Fallen Angels,  (AR Reading Level 4.2; 11.0 points),  Monster, (AR Reading Level 5.1; 5.0 points),  and Sunrise Over Fallujah (AR Reading Level 5.3; 11.0 points).

From the American Library Association website:  Given to African American authors and illustrator 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 by Corey Green @ Feb 1, 2010

 

The importance of Mother Goose nursery rhymes

ReadingMother Goose nursery rhymes are an important part of childhood.  I always thought they were practically innate—until I became a teacher.  That’s when I found out that someone has to teach nursery rhymes, and that this doesn’t always happen.

As teachers, we expect that some students won’t know the nursery rhymes.  English Language Learners, for example, may not know nursery rhymes in English.  (They might know rhymes from their own language.)

Somewhere along the way, probably about the same time as the demise of the bedtime story, we lost nursery rhymes.  It is very important to make sure children know them.  Why?

Nursery rhymes build fluency: Learning to say the rhymes, or read the rhymes aloud, builds a familiarity with a certain rhythm and style of speaking.

Nursery rhymes build vocabulary: The vocabulary is higher than what the child could read or say himself.  How often does “tuffet” or “contrary” come up in ordinary conversation?  By learning the words in conjunction with a fun rhyme, children effortlessly build vocabulary.

Nursery rhymes prepare children to read: To read successfully, children need an understanding of what teachers call phonemic awareness: an awareness of the sounds (phonemes) in our language.   Appreciating the rhyme and alliteration in nursery rhymes helps children learn to read.  By growing up with nursery rhymes, children more easily understand that words are made of sounds.

Nursery rhymes build rhythm: Developing a child’s sense of rhythm helps the child read better.  There have been studies on this.  From a classroom teacher’s point of view, I can say that building a sense of rhythm absolutely makes a difference.  The rhythm pulls children along in the reading—they don’t stumble as much, and they learn to read more naturally.  Rhythm also helps children work together because everyone has to keep the beat.  Learning nursery rhymes helps children build a sense of rhythm in language.

Connection: Learning to do the Hand Jive builds rhythm, too—but that’s another story!  The Hand Jive, with the rhythm and cross-body movement, is very good for developing growing brains.  The Macarena is also good, rhythm-building fun.

Nursery rhymes teach memorization: By memorizing nursery rhymes at a young age, children learn how to remember.  Often, the rhyme scheme aids in memorizing, and making this connection will help children see the patterns in language.

Nursery rhymes build cultural currency: many books, movies and plays refer to nursery rhymes.  Even in casual conversation, we might note that a couple is like Jack Sprat and his wife.  A harried mother might feel like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.  Children who grow up not knowing nursery rhymes are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding these references—they might lose a great deal of meaning in a conversation or book.

For further reading:
Mother Goose: A scholarly expedition
Nursery rhymes article at Wikipedia

Posted in Academics by Corey Green @ Jan 28, 2010

 

Read and Rise

Book CoverBy Sandra L. Pinkney
Foreword by Maya Angelou

AR Reading Level 3.0; 0.5 points
Available from Amazon.com

Summary:  This book is part of the Read and Rise literacy campaign to promote literacy, in which Scholastic teamed up with the National Urban League.   A main goal was to promote a love of reading in inner city, predominately African-American children.   The book opens with an inspiring poem by Maya Angelou.   The book is illustrated with photos of kids who let reading take them places, sometimes by dressing up in costumes like they find in books they read.  

Activities:   Read and Rise is partly designed for parents, to increase buy-in for literacy.   Teachers might consider making this book part of a Family Reading Night event.   Read and Rise  is inspiring for primary readers and preschool level.

Connection: Maya Angelou’s foreward to Read and Rise reminds me of  “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes, which is great for sharing with older students. 

I use an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s poem “Choose Your Freedom – Learn to Read” to inspire my students:

Reading is the pathway
From the dungeon
To the door

Freedom

Reading is the highway from
The shadow to the sun

Freedom

Reading is the river
To your liberty
For all your life to come

Let the river run

Learn

Learn to read.

–Maya Angelou

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Jan 6, 2010

 

American Girls and history class

American Girls SeriesThe American Girl series is a wonderful teaching tool.  The books and movies give girls a frame of reference for understanding important periods in United States history.

The American Girl books are grouped into series.  Each character has a book for her birthday, a holiday, a school story, etc.  The core books for each girl feature a wonderful section at the back of the book that ties the story in with history.  This section always has pictures of artifacts from the relevant historical period.

You can also buy American Girl mysteries.  There are far too many to list!

I recommend the American Girls books for grades 3 and up.  You can buy boxed sets of all books for each American girl.  The boxed sets are a good value because students read them over and over.

The American Girls books, in chronological order:

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

Observation: Although the American Girls books are popular, I usually have to push them on students.  Once I get one girl hooked, American Girl fever spreads through the classroom.  Usually, the boys end up reading the books, too.  The girls are careful not to embarrass the boys about reading these books.

American Girls Movies:  Felicity, Samantha and Kit each have their own movie.  (You can buy them in a 3-movie set, too.)  The movies are of very high quality and I enjoy using them in the classroom.  American Girl also features a wonderfully positive magazine and a plethora of dolls.

Getting the Boys to Buy In to Watching the Movies: I aways explain to the class that I understand the movies are about girls, but I think the boys in the class also will enjoy the movies.  I ask the girls in my class to promise not to tease the boys or tell students in other classes how much the boys in our class enjoy the movies.

Posted in Academics by Corey Green @ Nov 27, 2009