vehicles_apelqvist_getting ready to drive

Apelqvist, Eva  Getting Ready to Drive: A How-To Guide Middle school, high school     128 pp.     Enslow Life: A How-To Guide series. Apelqvist provides a concise yet thorough overview of the considerations made when preparing to drive. Chapters touch on large issues (e.g., rules of the road) along with smaller sub-topics, from learning disabilities to how […]

Sea life


Arnosky, Jim  Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life Gr. 4–6    40 pp.     Sterling This follow-up to Slither and Crawl and Creep and Flutter examines marine animals including stingrays, dolphins, jellyfish, and sharks. In a conversational tone, Arnosky relates personal yet information-filled stories of encountering these creatures while boating or simply wading in […]

Research and information science


Bailer, Darice  Will and Wendy Build a Website with Digital Tools Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Norwood Illustrated by Sean O’Neill. Writing Builders series. Wendy and her best friend Will learn how to design a website for their classroom. The solid information and writing tips are mostly suited to middle graders (though the gimmicky framing story […]

Field Notes: On Propagating Literacy


My story about working in adult literacy starts with a Black Knight Buddleia sapling on my twenty-sixth birthday at around two o’clock in the afternoon. I was digging the hole to plant the Buddleia in the garden of my Tipperary farm when the phone rang. The caller was Mary, who ran the then-small adult literacy […]

Board Book Roundup: Fall 2015 Edition: Halloween

henkes_kitten's first full  moon

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. Halloween ABC by Sarah Albee; illus. by Julia Woolf […]

Finding those “just right” books


Oh. How. Those. Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…have gone! One second you’re basking in the June sun, releasing the tension off your shoulders as the school year comes to a close. Then, suddenly, you blink and summer officially reaches its end. Not only have I had to prepare for another year of teaching third […]

At least they aren’t reading romance

Aristotle and Dante Answer the Secrets of the Universe

I have lots of conversations with teachers and teachers-in-training about what adolescents can, do, and should read. I don’t mind talking about what they can read or what they do read, but I get nervous when people start declaring what they should read, especially on their own time outside the curriculum. Recently, in a class […]

Welcoming everyone to the neighborhood

Welcome neighborhood

When I saw Welcome to My Neighborhood: A Barrio ABC at the library, I was immediately intrigued. I am always interested in books about people of color and since my daughter is half Latina, I wanted to see what this book was about. I’m all for “keeping it real,” but when I read the first […]

Telling and choosing our own stories

myers_darius & twig

For this year’s Boston University/Boston Green Academy Summer Institute (which I’ve blogged about before), we decided to change up our usual routine of reading one book, and this year we chose two – Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myers and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Our essential question for our rising ninth and […]

REALLY scary middle grade


Horrifying Hymenoptera, frightening faeries, malicious magick, and creepy corpses come out to play in these chilling middle-grade novels. Steve’s baby brother comes back from the hospital sick (“there was something wrong with his heart and his eyes and his brain”) and needing lots of care, so his parents don’t pay much attention when Steve develops […]