This book is one of my favorite tales. The heroine is a woman named Harry Crewe, an orphan, that comes to live near her brother in the desert country of Damar. Her life is quiet and ordinary until she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hill King, who takes her deep into the desert to the land of his people. She is alone surrounded by people who do not speak her language and she has no idea why she was kidnapped being herself to be truly ordinary and dull. However, everything happens for a reason and Corlath has Harry trained in the arts of fighting and war until she can pass for any of the Hillfolk. Why have her trained? Why kidnap her at all? What is all this leading to? What is in store for Harry?
I won't give away the reasons or ending but I encourage you to read it for yourself if you have not already. Robin McKinley truly brings this wonderful world alive and you find yourself getting lost and never wanting to come back. This Newbery Honor book is perfect for older grades. It would be a good book to get the students curious and involved in heavier topics. This unit study would have to come with a twist though and I would make it more about diversity and what would they do about living in a foreign country where no one spoke their language.
Reading Level: 4th grade and up
I was first introduced to this tale in movie form, however, to my great pleasure I stumbled across it at the book store on April Fool's day. To say I had to pinch myself to make sure I was not being tricked is an understatement. I whisked it to the front desk to purchase immediately and could not put it down! In this book, things like witches, wizards, kings, spells, seven-league boots and fire demons were everyday normal things. The Hatter sisters, Sophie, Lettie, and Martha knew the warnings and stories. So, when a big black castle showed up on the horizon that moved warnings were whispered about in the village but life remained the same that is until the Witch of the Waste paid Sophie Hatter a visit and cursed her! From that moment on Sophie had to set out to find someone to break the curse and return her to her normal 17 year old self. Her mission is not as easy as it seems though as she finds the Wizard Howl and gets tangled up in all sorts of trouble.
This book would be another good book to do an in-depth class study on and breaking it down into chapters for character analysis, plot, theme, problem/solution studies and much more. I foresee the students being activity engaged in trying to figure out the poems and untwisting the plot.
Reading Level: 3rd to 6th grade
Junie B. Jones is an average first grader. However, one of her classmates, Lucille is having Easter egg hunter at her house and everyone in class is invited. The Easter egg hunt is a Lucille's mansion and the winner that finds the golden egg wins a play date to swim in Lucille's heated indoor swimming pool! Only, there's a small problem. Well a big pink fluffy problem. Lucille insists on Junie being the Easter rabbit complete with floppy ears and a cotton tail. Junie hates costumes and keeps tripping over her own too big rabbit feet. She just feels like a big old dumb bunny and has no hopes of winning the prize. Will Junie give up or does she have something up her basket?
This book has a super fun activity to go with it. I would have my class hunt for eggs, however, they are in for more than just candy with this fun activity. They would be on a scavenger egg hunt and only the reading clues inside the eggs will help them get to the grand prize at the end.
Reading Level: 1st grade through 4th grade
Pete the Cat: Pete's Big Lunch is an absolutely perfect story for emergent readers in kindergarten. This author has really taken new emergent reader books by storm as I and thousands of others have fallen in love with silly likable Pete. In this book Pete is trying to make his lunch but he is just not satisfied with anything he chooses. However, when he invites his friends over to share his lunch with him does it become truly endearing. This book teaches students that sharing can make you feel good and make some activities more enjoyable when shared with friends. Along with the character building lesson on sharing I would personally focus on teaching the children about nutrition with this book. A great activity would be to have the kids bring in one healthy and one non healthy item from home. We can all share our items with the class and discuss what makes them healthy or not healthy.
Reading Level: Kindergarten through 3rd Grade.
This book is another classic in the Dr. Seuss dynasty. Fox in Socks tries to teacher Mr. Knox about some of the silliest, twistiest tongue twisters. This book has it all from tongue twisters to rhymes to funny pictures tripping you up every step of the way. So hang on to your hats you are in for a very twisty tricky ride. The only reason I rate this book four stars is because it is so hard to read. I think the perfect activity to do with this book in class would be a word sort. I would have the students pick out words they think are real and words they think are nonsense and write them down. Then using the words they created fill up two very different socks with those words to display what real words are and what nonsense words are.
Reading Level: Kindergarten to 2nd Grade
This is a very interesting book and would be a great read on the first day of school. Reading this book with the students can break the ice and show them that even teachers can't do everything. For instance did you know that teacher's can't buy their own apples? Or slide down the tubes on the playground? I did not know either! After the book has been read, I would have the students write down or draw something they do not think they can do well and put the response in a box. I would then draw the responses out of the box and share them with the class. There would be no embarrassment or shame as no one's name is written on the paper and it helps other students know they are not alone in things they can not do.
Reading Level: Kindergarten to 2nd Grade
The Ugly Duckling has been around for over a hundred years and has many different versions. It is a person favorite with mine and this version stays true in the timeless tale of a very awkward duckling that does not fit in with his brothers and sisters. This little bird is made fun of and has to struggle through life without a great support system to back him up. However, through the endless tormenting of his fellow ducklings, the hunters, and cruel seasons he survives. Not only does he survive but he grows up to become a graceful swan. This story in the end has a happy ending but it is the journey to get there that brings the story to life and reminds the reader that life is not always easy. Sometimes we will have to struggle and work hard for what we want. In the classroom I would use this story to focus on sequencing and working with the students to focus what happens in the story and when does it happen. This could easily be done by having the students cut out pictures or drawing pictures that represent what happens in the story in the correct order it happens.
Reading Level: Kindergarten to 3rd grade
LEX AD 650L
What can you same about Dr. Seuss that hasn't already been said? Sam-I-Am is very determined in this book completely devoted to his antics. He determines everyone should eat green eggs and ham because it is amazingly good. So, he sets out to convince everyone he meets that they too should eat green eggs and ham. However, he meets some resistance which only makes him more determined to convince his friend. This book is a definite must during Dr. Seuss week at school. As part of a weekly study on this author I would take a step out of what is considered the norm for a reading lesson and make green eggs and ham in the classroom. The students would then to an analysis of what color green eggs and ham they like (which green shade is better) and write down in complete sentences where they would eat them.
Reading Level: Kindergarten to 3rd Grade
After living ten years being treated horribly by his aunt, uncle and cousin, Harry Potter discovers he is a wizard on his 11th birthday. From that moment on he is invited to a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he learns there is more to being a wizard than spells and wands. Together with his new friends school is a lot more interesting than figuring sums and trying to remember who ruled England in what century. Harry's out to discover who he is and the journey he takes to get there will keep you on the edge of your seat and keep reading to find out more. This book would do well with a unit study as a class. Through the unit study the class would focus on point of view, character analysis, figurative language, plot, and theme. The students would have to write, re-read, analyze, work in teams, draw, seek evidence, and practice many language arts aligned skills to dive into the book.
Reading Level: 4th grade to college
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons draws readers along with Pete the Cat. This time Pete the Cat is wanting to go outside and play. However, a problem arises when Pete realizes he's missing a button! This book would be really good for Kindergarten through 2nd grade. I would read this with my future classroom and make it into a integrated lesson. After reading the book and going over some leading questions to help build comprehension, I would have the students help me create a coat by adding buttons. Simple right? Well our coats would have only the amount of buttons in the equations we are working on for each coat with 6 different coats to add buttons to.
Reading Level: Kindergarten through 2nd Grade
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses is another book by James Dean that captivates readers. Things do go as planned for Pete this time and he's all grumpy. However, when he runs into a friend his frown is turned upside down with a pair of sunglasses. The day looks a lot happier with his new sunglasses. When he comes across another friend having a bad day, he can't wait to share his sunglasses! I feel this book is great to use with grades kindergarten to 4th grade. It promotes a positive attitude and helping others to do the same. I firmly believe you can choose to be happy and have a good day. I would definitely use this book in my future classroom. After reading the book, I would ask the students how they could change things around if they or a friend are having a grumpy bad day. I would have them break them up into small groups and have them make a card or picture for someone in class (assigned by teacher so everyone gets one) to make their day seem a little brighter.
Reading Level: Kindergarten to 4th grade
This book is a favorite children's classic all about sharing and giving. I don't know if I could assign a specific age group for this books as I believe it would do well for any age group whether it's a kindergarten class or a college class. The Giving Tree is a good book to share and help bring positivity to a classroom. For this particular book, I would read it to the class asking the class for predictions on what they think will happen and why they think an event happened throughout the book. Once we've discussed the book, I would ask them to by a show of quiet thumbs ask them if someone has ever given them something, have they ever given or shared with someone else, and would they share with someone given the opportunity. After quiet thumbs, I would have them write or draw depending on the grade what they could do for someone in their lives.
Reading Level: grades 3rd to collage
Nan discovers freezing ants in her kitchen one cold wet winter's night. So, what would any sensible grandmother do? Why knit them something to keep the warm! Nan knits her guests some sensible underpants to keep the tiny ants warm and soon her knitting business is taken by storm. This book would be great for emergent readers as it focuses on phonics. I would recommend this book for kindergarten and first grade. After reading the story as a class a good lesson would be to have the students draw and/or write depending on their level the sequence that events happen in the book and have each share what knitted item they would like if they were cold.
Reading Level: Pre-K to 2nd grade
This fully illustrated book is about Max, a strong wild little boy, who likes to have fun. When his mother decides to send him to bed without supper, Max finds himself unexpectedly in the land of wild things. Instead of the bigger than life monsters eating him, they make Max their King. After some adventure, Max returns home with a new understanding for his parents and eats his supper. This book could easily be used in Kindergarten to 4th grade. I personally would use it more in grades 2nd to 4th by using the book as a writing prompt. The students could write a story of conflict and what they would do to resolve the solution. Another writing prompt could be asking the students to write a story about what they would do if they became a king.
Reading Level: Pre-K to 4th grade
This book is a definite heart jerker. It's about a little girl, Fern, and a runt piglet she saves from her dad. Fern raises the piglet she names Wilbur until her father forces him out to the barn where is care is then taken over by a very ambitious spider. Together with the help of a rat, they do amazing things to ensure Wilbur gets to live a long and healthy life. I would recommend this book for 3rd grade and up. There are so many fun ways to use this book in the classroom. Depending on the grade level, I would love to use this book to do things like an indepth group book analysis (age appropriate) or individual book reports or even have the students use mixed media to create their own word web.
Reading Level: 2nd grade to 6th grade
This book is one of my absolute favorites. It is about the budding friendship between Jess and Leslie. Though they are different and come from very different backgrounds, they take on the challenge of being friends. They create a magical world together in the woods where they reign as king and queen. In their kingdom the only limits are their imaginations. A dramatic twist forces Jess to finally realize Leslie has given him more than just friendship. This book would be best for 3rd grade and up. A good lesson would be to put a spin on a Venn Diagram by having the students create "Bridges". The students would begin by drawing two boxes with an empty space between. Then, the students would connect those boxes by drawing a bridge. The next step would be to have the students fill in each box with a different character and list all their traits for that one character. In the empty space under the bridge the students would then list the similarities between the two characters.
Reading Level: grades 3rd through 7th grade