No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie Documents, photos, fictionalized and true accounts of historical figures and events are woven together in this portrait of Nelson’s larger-than-life great uncle Lewis Michaux. What to you make of the […]

Three nonfiction books

Claudette Colvin

        Bomb: the Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose Marching For Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge Acclaimed author Jean Fritz, innovator in children’s nonfiction (and biography in particular), has said: “Children don’t need a perfect picture. They need to see what […]

What Happened to the Frog?

willems_citydog

During this new era of the Common Core State Standards, it is essential for teachers and librarians not only to have an understanding of the end goal of each particular standard but also to have a deep knowledge of the children’s literature that can support it. Take, for example, the College and Career Readiness Anchor […]

Science and stereotypes

Me...Jane

I’d like to start this post with a little thought exercise. Close your eyes and picture a scientist. What is your scientist doing? What does your scientist look like? If you are anything like my second graders, you’ve conjured up the stereotypical scientist: a man in a white lab coat with crazy hair who is […]

Windows and mirrors book discussion

oct27readings

Lauren had her first adolescent lit class last night at HGSE (Harvard Graduate School of Education). For last night’s class we talked about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I love this part of a course when the students go from names and faces on a roster to real people with opinions about books. […]

Eleanor and Park

rowell_eleanor & park

Rainbow Rowell’s nontraditional romance novel Eleanor and Park portrays a young love that is genuine in its intimacy and awkwardness, as well as the painful realities of life that are well beyond the control of the young protagonists. What are the entry points in the story for readers whose lives are very different from those […]

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie tells Junior’s story with a lot of humor, but pulls no punches in depicting the brutal truths of alcoholism, poverty, and bigotry both on and off the reservation. Does humor have a place in a realistic novel about tragic circumstances? If you’ve had classroom […]

The Thing About Luck

The Thing About Luck

In The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata, Summer has important duties to fulfill as the daughter and granddaughter of migrant harvest workers, and she must also meet the daily demands of her traditional Japanese grandparents. Summer’s multi-generational family and their lives as agricultural workers are facets of contemporary American culture that may be unfamiliar […]

Stuck on Post-Its

Stone Fox with Post-It notes

Still hanging onto their summer tans and beach weather, most people dread that time of year when the big, red “BACK TO SCHOOL” signs appear plastered on the doors of CVS, Staples, and Walgreens. I was never of that ilk; I’ve always loved the opportunity to buy school supplies, and start my year off fresh […]

How I Live Now

How I Live Now

At the outset of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, Daisy and her cousins in the English countryside are blissfully removed from the threat of impending war. In some ways, the insular, adult-less world of the young people might exist in any time and place, yet their world is irrevocably changed as the story progresses.  […]