Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

Board Book Roundup: Summer 2014 Edition

blair_baby animal farm

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine. Baby Animal Farm by Karen Blair Candlewick    18 pp. […]

Yaqui’s text set

medina_yaqui delgado

Since I wrote recently about using a text set built around the idea of respect and the title Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, a few people have asked what other texts we used alongside it. Our* essential question was “What makes someone worthy of respect?” We were aiming for a […]

Using Dear Mr. Henshaw to encourage students to write

Dear Mr. Henshaw

Dear Mr. Henshaw, a Newbery medal-winning book by Beverly Cleary, is a great way to get students to think about some of the therapeutic benefits of writing. Of course, you don’t have to mention how helpful writing can be when you need to sort out feelings but you can let students figure this out on […]

Third grade transitional books

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Third grade is a funny transition period between picture books (“baby books”) and chapter books (“big kid books”).  Personally, I think there is much to say about a great picture book, but my students tend to balk at the idea of reading them; they want long books with as many chapters as possible. I think […]

Batter up!

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

With baseball season in full swing, it is the perfect time to check out one of the many great picture books featuring baseball. Here are some of my favorites. Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise with illustrations by Adam Gustavson (K-3) Today many baseball fans may not know […]

Why we love Amos

stead_sick day for amos mcgee

Sometimes a children’s book is so heart-warming it needs no greater purpose for reading than just to enjoy it. And sometimes you get lucky and a book is not only sweet, but perfect for that lesson you want to teach about characters! A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated […]

All about literature circles

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I know it is summer, but I found (especially as a new teacher) that setting aside a good chunk of time to go Beast Mode* on a specific strategy truly helps in its implementation during the next school year. This summer, I’m planning to reflect on how our literature circles went this past year and […]

Using picture books to teach satire

The Stinky Cheese Man

It is important to expose children to a variety of genres of literature at young age and to do our best to explain the conventions of that genre in developmentally appropriate ways. One of the genres of literature that might not get as much emphasis in standardized tests but is important to be able to […]

YA dragons and witches

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What fantasy fan worth her salt doesn’t love a good dragon or witch story? There’s no shortage of them; but these YA novels are wholly original offerings that focus on the development of complex main characters and the subversion of traditional notions of good and evil. Teenager Nathan is a prisoner in a cage in […]

Science in your backyard

burns_handle with care

Outdoor play can double as an opportunity for learning about the natural world. These four nonfiction picture books may inspire readers to look more closely at the wildlife in their own neighborhoods. In Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, author Loree Griffin Burns explores the life cycle of butterflies alongside the work of a […]