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Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

Books mentioned in the March 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Cynthia Levinson We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson, Peachtree, 12–16 years. The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton, Atheneum, 5–8 years. Doing their bit (backwards and in heels) Doing Her Bit: […]

Last class | class #6, spring 2017

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead Changing friendships, New York City, time travel. Mysterious notes and everyday sixth grade life. How does Rebecca Stead weave all these strands into a coherent whole? Which catch you as a reader? In addition to your comments on our final text, please share any other thoughts as we […]

Pictures and visual literacy | class #5, spring 2017

The next adolescent lit class (February 28, 2017) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. The prompts below address the role of these books in the classroom; you might also respond to the interplay of text and pictures (or wordlessness), or to whatever engages you most […]

Life lessons in “best friend” easy readers

As a Pre-K teacher, I want to help my students learn to socialize and make friends. Inevitably, children often pair off and become best friends as the year progresses. These relationships involve playing and experiencing great joy together. But best friends can also fight, argue, annoy, and experience sadness. I want to help children in […]

Beyond the world we know | class #4, spring 2017

This week’s topic is “Beyond the world we know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of other worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely […]

Creature-feature apps

These preschool-oriented apps invite young users to explore and learn with new furry (and feathered and…googly-eyed?) friends. Little Kitten opens with a brief (and optional) wordless video introducing our hero, a gray tabby kitten. Following this intro, the kitten — now in a loving home and christened “Crumbs” — plays in the child-owner’s bedroom. In […]

Dystopian teen heroes

These four novels envision authoritarian societies, some in the future, some not-so-futuristic, that cause their teenage protagonists to take revolutionary action. Under Little Town’s strict Regime, no one crosses the border to or from Old Country — until the Duda family arrives as refugees. Protagonist Charlie befriends teenager Pavel Duda and tries to teach him […]

Notes on Black History Month 2017

At the 2016 Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, author Carole Boston Weatherford said, “Some people would like to close the book of our shared history around race because it is uncomfortable and seems ‘a long time ago.’ But we need to acknowledge realities of that history — from slavery to segregation to current police brutality […]

Books mentioned in the February 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Nikki Grimes One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes, illus. by various artists, Bloomsbury, 11 years and up. Notes on Black History Month 2017 Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan, Atheneum/Dlouhy, 8–14 years. You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen […]

Writing for adults and adolescents

Last January, I was at the annual meeting of the School Reform Initiative, a wonderful organization that works to help schools find ways to communicate and collaborate more effectively.  I was thrilled to find out that the keynote speaker was Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American novelist I’ve loved for a long time. She delivered an important […]