Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recent Reads Summer 2013

Camp Read A lot inspires me to read titles I may not pick up on my own. I enjoy this time to meet with colleagues, discuss new titles, and hear authors speak. Check out the titles  below and ways to integrate them into your curriculum.

Everybody Books (Grades 4-5 and above)

Unspoken A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
This wordless book is perfect for introducing the Underground Railroad to your students. Don't let the fact that it is wordless fool you. Many higher level content themes could be discussed with your 4th and 5th graders. For instance, the meaning of the title itself, "Unspoken." What is it that is unspoken and whom is it between? Of course we think of the stranger and the girl right away. But what about the girl and her family? Does the family know her secret? What is unspoken between the girl and her doll as she looks at onto the stars on the last page? The author writes he wanted to tell the story of everyday people who "were brave in quiet ways." The detail of the graphite illustrations communicates the brave story of a little girl helping a runaway slave, an everyday story that was not unusual during the Civil War time period.

BookSpeak! Poems about Books by Laura Purdie Salas illustrated by Josee Bisaillon
Bookspeak! is my favorite poetry book I read this year. My 6 year old and I sat down to read just a few of the selections in the book which has poems about...books! After reading a few we both wanted to read the the book, cover to cover. That doesn't happen in our house very often with poetry books. Many of the poems would be terrific lead ins to writer workshop lessons. For example, A Character Pleads for His Life could inspire the writer to delve into character development. Cliffhanger might remind the student to include various story elements.  Of course the poem Vacation Time! would be a great one to get kids excited about summer reading. A library is simply not complete without BookSpeak!

Electric Ben the Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd

Mr Byrd's details about Benjamin Franklin are just varied enough to capture the interest of middle graders. His illustrations are just intriguing enough to keep them hooked.  This nonfiction selection would work well as a whole class read aloud when introducing research projects. I like how the book is divided into sub categories such as: School Days, The Scientific Amusements, and Franklin on the Frontier.  These categories would be easy to share in segments with the class when teaching how to take research notes.  Other sections of the book would be great to read in part during Science or Social Studies classes to introduce students to various topics related to Ben Franklin. For example, there are sections discussing the Scientific Method (The Scientific Amusements),the Law of the Conservation of Charge (Coaxing Sparks from the Sky), and Franklin's impact on the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Peace with England, and the Constitution (Franklin and the Constitution).

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso gave the reader a glimpse into who Picasso was as a person, as well as who he was as an artist.  Before reading the book I knew just the basics about Picasso. Now I feel like I could speak to his character. I like your idea, Ashley, to use the book at the beginning of the year with students. Too often kids want to conform to what the "leader of the pack" is doing or saying. This book would be a wonderful way to jump start a discussion with students about the importance of having courage to be who you are!
Links to use with the book:

Chapter Books (Grades 4 and Above)

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Mystery, intrigue, murder,  and a precarious story teller make this book a gem! Mo Lo Beau is living in a small town trying to figure out where she came from. She washed ashore during a hurricane when she was a baby. Ever since she has  been trying to communicate to her "Upstream Mother" using the message in a bottle technique.  She is also trying to solve a murder that takes place in her small home town of Tupelo Landing, NC. with her best friend, Dale. Her longing to find her mother, desire to really understand the people in her life,  and her bravery to be herself made this book one I couldn't put down. Fifth graders would enjoy this as a read a loud, book club selection, or independent read.

Three Times Lucky Book Trailer By Emily from ISSH on Vimeo.

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Many times teachers come into the media center looking for good examples of expository text for 
their students.  Personal letters fall into the expository category. Same Sun Here is a collection of letters written back and forth between two pen pals, Meena and River. Meena is an Indian immigrant girl  living in the big city. River lives in the mountains of Kentucky and is a coal miner's son. I found the two distinct, middle school  voices made this book enduring and honest. Their correspondences tackle issues such as environmental activism, racism, immigration, and touch on sexual identity. I would recommend the book for 5th graders and  above. The book does have a political slant. President Obama's 2009 inauguration is discussed as a historical event.  I was at the 2009 presidential election. I encouraged my fourth graders at the time to follow my blog as I witnessed history being made. The authors did an outstanding job of capturing the mood of the time of many people.  They also did an outstanding job of helping the reader remember what it was like to be 12 years old again.

This book would be great to discuss in a small book club setting for 5th graders or above. Different segments of the two kids' correspondences could also be read aloud to students before beginning an expository unit of writing.  A teacher could also read an example of one of the character's letters to the class and have the class respond in his or her own words back to the writer.

Link to Inauguration Blog 2009

Rump the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff is the best book I've read this summer. 
Rump is a young boy growing up not far from Yonder, who would give anything to figure out the rest
of his name given to him at birth. His mother died during childbirth. He has many questions about 
who is he is and what his destiny is.  Pixies constantly swarm him which is a mystery to him as well. 
Does it have anything to do with gold or magic? 

Rump is a  fractured fairy tale full of magic. Newbery Honor-winner Kirby Larson said "Liesl 
Shurtliff  spins words into gold." That she does! Shurtliff takes the reader on a journey they won't 
forget. One of Rump's friends is Red. Her granny in the woods offers Rump some advice, "You'll find
it all" She tells Rump. "...All of it...Not before you cause a heap of trouble, though.  And you have to
find your destiny first" (28).  Does Red's Granny's prediction hold true? Read Rump The True 
Story of Rumpelstiltskin to find out.
Activities to use with Rump:

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea is a book one of my students recommended to me at the end of

the school year. He told me I had to read it. I did and I loved it. It would be a great book to begin 

reading aloud to your fifth graders at the start of the school year. It is told from the perspective of 7

fifth grade students. They have a phenomenal teacher that guides them through life lessons as well as 

lessons in the classroom. One day a terrible accident happens. They all feel responsible.  Will they be

able to face the tragedy and deal with the consequences? Did they learn what is really important in 

life?  All of us can learn lessons from Mr. Terupt. Read it and see for yourself! 

1 comment:

laurasalas said...

Thank you, Mrs. T.! I'm so glad you enjoyed BookSpeak:>)