Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

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; […]

Happiness and high school humanities

The Spectacular Now

I got a request this past year from my friends at Boston Green Academy (BGA) to help them consider their Humanities 4 curriculum, which focuses on philosophies, especially around happiness. This was a tough request for me, and certainly not one I had considered before. There aren’t any titles I can think of that say […]

Read about female pilots on National Aviation Day

Flying Solo

Today, August 19th, the U.S. is celebrating National Aviation Day. This day was first established by a presidential proclamation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939 to celebrate advances in aviation. The date was chosen to coincide with Orville Wright’s birthday to recognize his contribution, together with his brother Wilbur, to the field of aviation — […]

What’s the media Feeding us?

feed

For the past six weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching an English course to a group of highly motivated high school students enrolled in the summer session of an Upward Bound program. This summer’s book selection — Feed by M. T. Anderson — has spurred a campus conversation that I keep catching snippets […]

For not-rotten new readers

gantos_rotten ralph's rotten family

Following your dreams and dealing with family: these topics get hilarious treatment for primary readers in the following early chapter books. An added bonus? Some familiar faces from popular series. In Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel’s Rotten Ralph’s Rotten Family, the titular kitty finds a family photo album and, nostalgic for his childhood, decides to […]

Back-to-school books

Chrysanthemum

Down South sometimes we do things a little differently… like starting back to school in early August. So while many a teacher is still enjoying their summer vacation until after Labor Day, my first day of school was a week ago. To me, the first days of school are some of the richest times for […]

Beyond biography

woodson_brown girl dreaming

With storytelling ease and pitch-perfect pacing, the following works of narrative nonfiction for older readers bring their subjects to brilliant life, elevating the sometimes-staid genre of biography to literary art form. Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming is so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. Born […]

Go your own way

smith_100 sideways miles

Teen boys go on journeys both physical (road trip!) and psychological in these affecting YA novels. Finn Easton, protagonist of Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles, has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi […]

Back-to-school basics

shea_dinosaur vs school

Kids going back to school — or just starting out there? Here are a variety of picture books, from imaginative and funny to historical and serious, to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer. “Roar! Roar! Roar!” The diminutive red dinosaur from Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs. Bedtime faces its newest foe in […]