Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

How to find free and cheap books

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I just had an email from Samantha Song, a former student now teaching first grade in Somerville, MA, with a universal question that that I want to pass along to all of you. Here’s what she said: I’d like to pick your brain on an issue I’m having. I was a last minute hire and […]

Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Young Adult

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Bausum, Ann Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights 120 pp. Viking 2015. ISBN 978-0-670-01679-2 Bausum begins with a detailed, nuanced exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots as a galvanizing moment for the gay rights movement, then traces the movement’s evolution (in a somewhat more cursory way) for the second half of […]

Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Intermediate

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Bartoletti, Susan Campbell Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America    230 pp. Houghton 2015. ISBN 978-0-544-31367-5 What was it like to be a servant, an immigrant, a woman in the early twentieth century? Bartoletti weaves the answers into the beginning of “Typhoid Mary” Mallon’s story — using Mary as […]

Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Picture Books

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Applegate, Katherine Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla 40 pp. Clarion 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-25230-1 Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Applegate introduces picture-book readers to the true story that inspired her Newbery-winning The One and Only Ivan. In poetic prose she describes gorilla Ivan’s early life in Africa; his dramatic capture; his […]

Trimming down a classroom library

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I recently found myself facing the dreaded task of packing up my entire classroom. Trying to see this as an opportunity to reduce the number of boxes labeled only with question marks, I sorted through papers and miscellany, recycling and tossing with gusto. Math papers that I never used? Recycled without a second thought. A […]

Board Book Roundup: Summer 2015 Edition

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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. Max’s Mix & Match by Claudia Boldt NorthSouth   28 […]

Tales as old as time

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It should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that when it comes to the Disney princesses, I find myself identifying most with Belle, the brunette bookworm from Beauty and the Beast. The notion of a girl longing to escape her world through the pages of a story presented a strong parallel to my own […]

Picturing fantasy

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Funny, action-packed, thought-provoking (and sometimes all of the above), these three graphic novels and one…well, what do you call Brian Selznick’s books? take readers on fantastic adventures. Brian Selznick defined his own format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He pushes the envelope even further in The Marvels. Black-and-white drawings (over four hundred […]

Easy reading

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With summer coming to a close and school peeking its head around the corner, children can get into the swing of things with the following titles about kid-friendly subjects, from dance and princesses to raccoons and robots. It’s that age-old childhood dilemma: “What do you want to play today?” In Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret […]

Poetry and pictures

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Poetry appears in many forms in these four illustrated books: one collection of old favorites, two books that present original poetry in both Spanish and English, and one biography of an enslaved man who became a poet. JooHee Yoon’s sixteen selections of poems about animals in Beastly Verse include the usual suspects from Nash, Blake, […]