Disasters

goldsmith_bombs over bikini

Goldsmith, Connie Bombs over Bikini: The World’s First Nuclear Disaster Middle school, high school   88 pp.  Twenty-First Century This book offers a riveting tale of the aftermath of U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. The tests themselves and the lives of the Marshall Islanders directly affected by the resulting radiation contamination are described in […]

All about animals

disiena_chickens don't fly

DiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Chickens Don’t Fly: And Other Fun Facts Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Little Simon DiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Hippos Can’t Swim: And Other Fun Facts Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Little Simon Did You Know? series. Illustrated by Pete Oswald. Each volume presents select trivia about a variety of […]

Blasting the canon

The Red Badge of Courage

As a new English department chair, I’ve already been faced with decisions about book orders. Our high school opened in 2007, but our middle school just opened with a sixth grade class last year. This means it was time for us to create a seventh grade curriculum. I believe in leadership through structured freedom, so […]

Books that inspire community

pedro_y_la_luna

Lately — and by accident — I’ve been reading Spanish versions of many French-authored children’s picture books. For some reason, most of the books I’ve recently bought from bookstores in Lima and Buenos Aires to use for storytelling in Spanish were translated from French authors. I didn’t realize it at the time, but once I […]

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 […]