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Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2016


This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early […]

Questions from Molly Bang | Class #2, fall 2016

Picture This

We are looking forward to welcoming Molly Bang to our next class on October 19. One of the things that makes Molly unique as a guest speaker is that she likes her visits to be learning experiences — for herself. One year she focused on a book that she thought didn’t work very well. It […]

Picture books and easy readers | Class #2, fall 2016


During our first class, we started to look at picture books. For our second class on October 19, we are adding easy readers into the mix. Here’s what we are reading and discussing: Two more picture books Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown That New Animal by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pierre Pratt Two […]

Picture books | class #1, fall 2016


For our first class on October 12, we will be reading two picture books and three articles. Where the Wild Things Are is a classic now, but when it was first published in 1963 it was controversial. If you knew this book as a child, what did you notice this time that you might not […]

Children’s lit class, fall 2016


I’ve been teaching children’s lit in the spring for the past few years, but this year we’re changing to the fall semester. So I’m giving up having a nice break between the end of last year’s class and the start of this year’s, but I’m gaining a chance to hold our mock awards at the […]

What do ordinary people do during war?

Symphony for the City of the Dead

This is one of the questions from a student that gave me pause a long time ago.  It was a sort of typical survey humanities course, and I vividly remember her interesting and important question. My own history education was often centered on primary sources or key events summarized neatly in a textbook, and I […]

Hester and relevance

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Recently, I co-taught a course with a colleague from the BU English department (I’m in English education) about teaching American literature. A great deal of time is spent in the course considering what ‘counts’ as American literature, and my colleague convinced me we should read The Scarlet Letter. We chose this novel as a highly […]

Death to the biography book report


We all remember doing book reports in elementary school. It was fairly standard. You read a book and you write a summary on it or do some type of creative project. This past spring, I assigned a biography book report. I followed the normal prescription: choose a book about someone you’re interested in, and write […]

Women can be president, too!


With the 2016 presidential election just a few months away, news from the campaign trail continues to dominate the headlines. Our students are thus very likely hearing names of candidates and snippets of information about politics and elections. While discussing politics in school is often viewed as taboo, the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Carly […]

Scientists as dreamers

Earmuffs for Everyone!

Can scientists be dreamers? They not only can, but should! The imagination pushes the boundaries of what can be discovered or created. The picture book biographies of the three subjects below — well-known Carl Sagan, and lesser-known Chester Greenwood and Jean-Henri Fabre — are intriguing examples of scientists who let their imaginations run away with […]