Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

Music for Alice: a book in the key of life

Music for Alice

Since I teach ESL to adults, I have to consider how I can convey some empathy for what my students have experienced, while also risking that some of the material I present may overwhelm them. Since I can never completely know all my students have been through — once a student burst into tears in […]

Here we go again!

back to school

By now, I’m guessing all the teachers out there are fully back in school — not just in meetings, but standing in a classroom in front of new students. Those of you in southern US states have been back for nearly a month while here in Boston students had their first day last week. I’d […]

Picture book sequels you’ve been waiting for

becker_quest

Young children often latch on to particular characters or stories they love, so it’s little surprise that we see many familiar faces return in new picture book adventures. Here are four entertaining sequels sure to delight fans. Quest — the second in Aaron Becker’s planned wordless trilogy — opens in the present-day city where we […]

Girls on the edge

kuderick_kiss of broken glass

The protagonists of these pull-no-punches YA novels experience the dark side of adolescence, from mental illness to abuse to trauma to religious intolerance to the death of a loved one — but each one is given what she needs to overcome her challenges. After she is caught cutting herself in the school bathroom, fifteen-year-old Kenna, […]

Middle-grade BFFs

curtis_madman of piney woods

The friends you make in childhood can be the best ones of your life. The following books highlight unlikely friendships that are made to last.    Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Madman of Piney Woods (companion to Newbery Honor Book Elijah of Buxton) takes place in 1901, with the American Civil War a not-so-distant memory for […]

Nature lovers

roy_neigborhood sharks

Back-to-school blues? Give kids these engaging science books — which introduce primary readers to intriguing animals, habitats, natural processes, and conservation causes — to pique scientific curiosity and fuel imagination. Katherine Roy’s Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands examines the sometimes chilling, always fascinating details of what makes the great […]

Open Very Carefully: even quality books can contain stereotypes

Open Very Carefully

One of the most popular books in my Pre-K class this past year was Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne. The book starts off like it will be a retelling of The Ugly Duckling, but soon a crocodile interloper enters the book. For the rest […]

Literature circles: the details

classroom table and chairs

In my first literature circle post, I gave an overall explanation about the purpose and how the initial meeting goes and left a few mini book reviews. In my second lit circle post, I pointed you guys to sources if you wanted to kick off your own. In this last (for now) lit circle post, […]

Engaging literature and students with CHARGE syndrome

willems_knuffle bunny too

This summer, I was asked by a parent whose child had attended our reading tutoring program in the spring, to work one-on-one with her daughter, a rising middle schooler with CHARGE syndrome. CHARGE syndrome involves a number of developmental and medical differences (see www.chargesyndrome.org to learn more), and for this particular child it means profound […]

Frankly, tired of reading Anne Frank

frank_diary of a young girl

I’ve hit an academic dilemma at summer camp this year. For the past three years at this gifted students’ camp, my lead instructor has chosen to teach The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank). Yes, the book provides an entryway into a very difficult historical topic; yes, it’s pretty amazing to watch Anne’s growth; […]