"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are." Pablo Freire

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Difficult Boy

Captivating, Stimulating, Unmitigated, Contingent, Riveting
A Difficult Boy by M.P. Barker 
Published by Holiday House Copyright 2008
Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Award && Notable Books for a Global Society 2009
"A memorable tale of friendship and a fascinating glimpse into mid-19th-century Massachusetts. . . . This is an eye-opening look at indentured servitude in American history." —School Library Journal

As the book begins we learn about Ethan Root, who has to leave his family and farm at the age of nine to work off his father's debt at the Lyman's farm. "I need you to go," the famous words of Gideon that repeat over and over in Ethan's head. Ethan first despises the farm and everyone on it, especially Daniel. Ethan despises the other indentured servant, but after they endure physical pain from Mr. Lyman, they soon learn they have more in common than they realized. Daniel is the difficult boy, always getting blamed for everything. Therefore, he tends to stay away from everyone when he can, secretly dealing with his own family hardships that we learn about later in the book. Ethan soon learns that Mr. Lyman isn't the upstanding, honest man that everyone believes, but rather a liar and a cheater. With the help of Mr. Lyman's son, Silas, Ethan faces the Mr. Lyman, exposing Mr. Lyman to harsh punishments, and possibly even jail. What will happen to Mr. Lyman?  

    Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 760L
    Suggested Delivery: Small group read or independent read
    Teachers, here are some resources that may help you teach A Difficult Boy...
    Key Vocabulary: indenture, solemnly, scalded, stanchion, contempt, feeble, apprehension, conjured, deferential, averted, blissful, bolster, Lucifer, prodigal, jarred, intonation, disheveled, incantation, deft, liable, resignation, gaped, indulgent, accentuating, inconspicuous, patronizing, amiss, perpetual, jovial, placid, bemused, quizzical, cajole, rogue, physio-gratification, heathen, constable, quandary, regal, relinquishing, stature, peddler, cravats, vendue, satiated, reprieve, mastiff

    Electronic Resources: 
    M.P. Barker
    • M.P.Barker: On the publishers website you can view her biography, as well as guest blogs and interviews, watch a trailer video, read FAQ's, a summary of the novel, and you can even follow it on twitter! This website is great for before reading to capture interest or after reading to extend student knowledge. 
    • EducationGuide: Holiday House gives teachers a great educators guide filled with information about the book, a before reading activity (shown below), theme connections, questions for classroom discussions, multiple curriculum connections (including social studies, music, math, language arts and drama), vocabulary connections and the authors website. This is extremely useful to any educator before teaching and while teaching this book.
    • MPBarkerJournal: On the authors website she shares information through her blog and through interviews. This may be beneficial while gathering background information about the author and the book. 

    Activities for Students: 
    • Before Reading: Ask students to use resources in the library, or sites on the Internet, to find out about indentured servants. Have them write down the differences between the lives of indentured servants and slaves.
    • During Reading: Discuss prejudice and bigotry. What's the difference? How does this relate to A Difficult Boy? How did Ethan feel about Daniel at first? Did that change? Discuss the differences between people and how we should accept people for who they are and where they come from, and not make judgements right away. Invite students to share how this made them feel and anything else related.
    • After Reading: As we know, Ivy and Phizzy played an important role in A Difficult Boy. What part do horses Ivy and Phizzy play in the story? What do they represent when ridden by the horseback riders in the story? How do you think the story/characters would have changed if Ivy was not on the farm? Write a paragraph in response to these questions.

    "Barker's gift for historical detail illuminates this absorbing first novel." —Publishers Weekly
    Barker, M. P. (2008). A difficult boy . New York: Holiday House. 

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      The Wall

      Informative, Extraordinary, Remarkable, Artistic, Significant
      The Wall Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain written and Illustrated by Peter Sis
      Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Copyright 2007
      Caldecott Honor Book && The Robert F Sibert Medal 2008
      "A masterpiece for readers young and old."—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

      Growing up as an infant and transforming into an adult, Peter Sis takes us on a journey through his life of growing up on the Communist side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.  Readers read about Sis's life under the Communist rule of Czechoslovakia, the problems he faces and his dreams of traveling to America. In The Wall readers discover pieces of history as Sis describes how children are told to report to their families and parents are to keep their opinions to themselves. By inferring readers discover that Sis could not question what he was being told, but then he found that that there were things that he was not being told, things that were hidden from him. The secret police coat the pages as they intrude into every drawing of Sis's. In 1968 we hear promises of freedom, but that promise is soon broken. In the final pages of the book Sis breaks free by wings made from his artwork, soaring off to America and freedom.

      Reading Level: Grade 4/5 Lexile 760L
      Suggest Delivery: Read Aloud
      Extras: On the first page there is an introduction with background about the Cold War and how it came to be. There is also an afterward about drawing, how it changed his life and how his drawing changed when he entered school and became part of the soviet communist.

      “Complex, multifaceted, rich in detail . . . [Sís’s] concluding visions of freedom are both poignant and exhilarating.”—Starred, School Library Journal

      Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain...
      Key Vocabulary: cataclysmic, revolution, communist, democracy, liberated, allies, dictatorships, totalitarian, exodus, ideologically, indoctrination, subordination, averted, infestation, censored, subversives,cosmonaut, decadent, embalmed, anarchy, descends, lethargy, tainted, ideological, infiltration, dissidents, regime

      Electronic Resources:
      • NYTimes: Here you can read a Sunday review about the Wall by the New York Times. This may be beneficial to read before you read the Wall because it will give you more information about the book and most likely capture your interest to want to learn more. 
      • PeterSis: On the author's website you can look at his other books, play games, read about the author, read about the press room, contact him, and about the publisher. This website would be great for before, during or after reading.
      • Youtube: On this website you can watch a video of pictures from The Wall as you hear a review about the book. This would be great for before reading to captures reader's interest and give them a small background about the book.
      • FreeLibrary: Here you can find discussion questions for students! Great when planning a lesson for before, during and after reading activities.

      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Using the front or back page of the book, use the map of Europe to show students where Czechoslovakia is. Explain the background of the book and Peter Sis's struggle during the cold war. Talk about how times were hard and sometimes borders were built to keep others out. Why do you think they wanted to keep people out? What do you think they used to keep others off their land?
      • During Reading:Have children create a timeline of all the important events throughout the war. This lesson could be appropriate for helping them try to pick out key details from a text, just like summarizing a book.
      • After Reading: How did this change history? What affect do you think the war has had on the world? How did it change who we are today? Do you think it changed Peter? How? Do you think war will ever end? Write a couple paragraphs in response to these questions.

        "The ecstatic energy and big-spirited inventiveness of the artist’s drawings make the once all but unimaginable realization of that dream visible for all to see."-The New York Times Book Review
      Sís, P. (2007). The wall: growing up behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Crazy Lady

      Intriguing, Guiding, Enlightening, Tranforming, Engaging
      Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conly
      Published by HaperCollins Copyright 1993
      Newbery Honor Book 1994 && Best Books for Young Adults 1994

      Conly starts off the book discussing a group of guys that get bored and terrorize the "crazy lady", as we later discover to be Maxine. The main character, Vernon Dibbs starts off being a part of that group, but when his first seventh grade report card comes in, he has bigger things to worry about. He soon asks Maxine about a tutor when bringing her potatoes home to her, blurting out that he is failing English. Maxine refers him to a friend, Miss Annie. Soon enough, Vernon meets Ronald, Maxine's son with special needs and they start to form a friendship over time. Vernon becomes Ronald's closest friend, taking him shopping and for walks. An unexpected twist of events occur as Maxine realizes she can't take care of Ronald the way that she should. What will happen to Ronald?

      Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 570L
      Suggested Delivery: Independent or small group read

      Teachers, here are some resources that may help teach Crazy Lady...
      Key Vocabulary: This is a great book with readable vocabulary, but a few words may still need to be addressed prior to reading, including: addled, keeled, caricatures, duplex, gawky, welfare, practical, remnant, clod, agitate, affluent, celebrant, hunker, mumbo, defiant, scrawl, remnant, titter, sowed

      Electronic Resources:
      • HarperCollins: Here on the publishers website you can view all information about the book, including all the awards it has won and where you can buy the book. This can be used for before reading if you need to buy the book or if you want more information about the book.
      • CrazyLady: On this website you can read either part of the book, or the whole thing! Great for schools with limited book resources and great for students who enjoy using the computer to read!! This website is especially helpful for teachers while students are reading the book.
      • RandomHouse: This website is perfect for ELL's or students struggling reading! On this website you are able to download the audiobook of Crazy Lady. Therefore all students can keep up and follow along with added assistance!
      • TeachersGuide: On this website you can find resources to teach this book including discussion questions, reading strategies, cross-ciricular activities, interviews and more post reading activities.
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Show students the cover of the book and ask them to predict what the book will be about. What do you think the shadow with the red and white checkered shoes is going to do? What do you think the flowers on the front mean? What about the stairs? Get them to look at every aspect of the cover.
      • During Reading: After a couple chapters of each section have students answer questions. What do you think about Maxine and Ronald? Do you think Maxine is really crazy? How did you feel when the group of boys were tormenting Maxine? Why is it wrong to do that? etc.
      • After Reading: What do you think the message of this book is? Why did I have you read this book? What is it trying to teach us? Write a paragraph in your journal with specific details from the text to support your answer.
      Crazy Lady by Jane Conly (HarperCollins, 1993) is a gem of a story about outsiders, loss, friendship and growth." -Library Journal

      Conly, J. L. (1993). Crazy lady! . New York: Harper/Collins.

      Runny Babbit

      Witty, Mirthful, Atypical, Imaginative, Capturing
      Runny Babbit A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein
      Published by HarperCollins Copyright 2005
      Children's Choice Award 2006

      This billy sook will have students laughing as you trip over the crazy made up words created. Runny is a rabbit that gets into a lot of mischief and does a lot of silly things. Though words are created abnormally with the first letter or couple letters switched in words, Shel Silverstein still allows us to figure out the underlying meaning of the passage. The reader is able to read the book and still come away knowing exactly what happened. This book will be sure to bring smiles to students everywhere!

      Reading Level: Grade 4/5
      Suggested Delivery: This book should be read aloud with students for the first time so they can understand whats happening. The students will surely enjoy the teacher stumbling over the words as well! This book could also be read as a small group read for added fun!
      Extras: On the back flap of the jacket, Silverstein includes titles of his other works.

      Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Runny Babbit...
      Key Vocabulary: The vocabulary in this book is perfect for the reading level. Silverstein did this to assure young readers would understand the book even though the words are altered. However, here are a few that might prove to be problems for students: swine, scolded, griddle, feline, poached
      Electronic Resources:
      • RunnyonMtRushmore: Listen to Shel Silverstein read Runny on Mount Rushmore as you can follow along with the text on the page. Great for students during reading, or post reading for added clarification.
      • HaperCollins: Before or during reading, you can visit the publishers website you can download audio, go to critic's corner, read Runny Babbit on NPR, and view its awards.
      • ShelSilversteinPlan: Here on Silverstein's website there are lesson plan ideas and teaching suggestions! Great for before, during or after reading!

      Activities for Students:
      • Pre Reading: Say the title and have the children determine whats going on. What are they doing with the letters of the words? What does the title actually sound like, what does it mean? How do you know that's what it means? Lead a discussion to explain the way the story is written.
      • During Reading: Ask children questions along the way. So what just happened? What did Runny do? Because the words are altered, its important to make sure they can still infer the meaning through the context.  Pick one story within the book, for example "Runny's Bight Toots" on page 69. Read the passage, then have the children write about what it means. What happened here? Why did Runny become the tallest "lunny in the band"? What made that happen? Have the students write their answer with specific details from the text on a piece of paper.
      • Post Reading: Have students create their own "billy sook" or silly paragraph about whatever they choose to write about. Let some students share theirs with the class for some added fun!
      "Children will love these clever poems and without prompting will probably create their own, unaware that they are focusing on a key reading skill: phonemic awareness. This is a treasure."School Library Journal
      Silverstein, S. (2005). Runny Babbit: a billy sook. New York: HarperCollins.

      Wednesday, August 17, 2011

      Poetry for Young People

      Intuitive, Colorful, Unprecedented, Esoteric, Imaginative
      Poetry for Young People by Langston Hughes
      Illustrated by Benny Andrews
      Edited By David Roessel & Arnold Rampersad
      Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc Copyright 2006
      Corretta Scott King Award 2007 && School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2006 && 2007 Illustrator Honor Books as Diverse Culture and Poetry

      "Hughes' stirring poetry continues to have enormous appeal for young people. In this illustrated collection of 26 poems, Andrews' beautiful collage-and-watercolor illustrations extend the rhythm, exuberance, and longing of the words--not with literal images, but with tall, angular figures that express a strong sense of African American music, dreams, and daily life--while leaving lots of space for the words to "sing America." -Booklist

      Poetry for Young People is comprised of twenty six poems about African American life, including Langston Hughes and his own life growing up from 1902 to 1967. These poems discuss and portray various topics including African American music traditions, Hughes' grandmother's stories, slavery, culture, fighting for equal rights and so much more. Before each poem there is an introduction where the reader is given background about the poem and what it is pertaining to. By giving the reader an introduction to the poem, we are better able to understand the meaing that lies behind it. Each poem intrigues the reader, and each story dispenses a variety of emotions.

      Reading Level: Grade 5/6
      Suggested Delivery: Small group or independent read
      Extras: In the beginning pages of the book we are given an introduction, which describes Langston Hughes and his life for roughly four pages. This book also given us a couple sentences at the beginning of each poem describing how this poem was created and where the inspiration came from. Throughout reading, there are some difficult and unique words given in the poem, however Langston Hughes gives us some definitions and history on the bottom of the page to help us understand.

      Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Poetry for Young People...
      Key Vocabulary: bondage, Eurphrates, bosom, cameo, clashed, syncopated, pallor, ebony, melancholy, croon, dialect, atavistic, injustices, friz, avarice, wretchedness
      Electronic Resources:
      • PowellBooks: On this website you can buy the book, read a synopsis, read reviews, publisher comments, about the author, and even read customer and children reviews. This website could be used before or after reading to discover more information about Poetry for Young People.
      • ReadWriteThink: Teachers, here you can find lesson plans for post reading and information about any book by Langston Hughes. There are many different grade level lesson plans for on this site as well.
      • LibraryPowwow: Here you can find a small bibliography, a critical review, one of Hughes poems called "Mother to Son" as well as a kid's connection and explanation of the poem. This website would be best used during or after reading.
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Ask students if they have read any poetry before. What is a poem? Does it have to rhyme?
      • During Reading: Choose a poem and don't read the introduction sentences, ask children's to listen to the poem carefully. After you have read the poem two times, tell students they have to write a paragraph describing what the poem is about. Give supporting evidence with details from the poem. Allow them to refer back to the poem, but cover up the small introduction.
      • Post Reading: Ask students to think about the poems and what makes a poem. Tell children that they will be writing their own poem about anything related to this book, particularly African Americans and what they encountered. It's important for the children not only to understand the book but to infer meaning from the text.
      "This will be a welcome introduction to Hughes's poetry for elementary students, and it includes sufficient detail to make it useful and enjoyable for older students." School Library Journal

      Hughes, L., Rampersad, A., Roessel, D. E., & Andrews, B. (2006). Poetry for Young People . New York: Sterling Pub.

      Amelia to Zora

      Inspiring, Motivating, Informational, Engaging, Unique
      Amelia to Zora: Twenty Six Women who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee
      Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
      Published by Charlesbridge Copyright 2005
      Children's Choice Award, ABC Best Books for Children Award

      "There are many books on women and the strides that they've made, but this one is very smart--in design, art, and choice of subject." -Booklist

      Starting with A for Amelia Earhart and traveling to Z for Zora Neale Hurston, Cynthia Chin-Lee discusses twenty six of the wonderful women of the world and how they changed it forever. In this book there are journalists, artists, scientists, politicians, athletes, and so much more. For each extraordinary woman, the biographies are concise, giving readers a sense of who they are and what they accomplished in their lifetime. Each page is filled with a two paragraph summary of a woman's accomplishments, a quote that they are remembered by, and a picture of what they looked like. The short synopsis of these pages captures readers interests and encourage them to want to learn more about these exceptional women.

      Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 1040L 
      Suggested Delivery: Read aloud
      Extras: This book is filled with quotes on each page that the women were famous for, which many books do not include. Amelia to Zora also has a selected bibliography and an authors note on the end pages of the book that give more information about why she chose the women she did and decided to write this book. There is additional information about Cynthia Chin-Lee and the illustrators on the end pages of the book.

      Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Amelia to Zora Twenty Six Women Who Changed The World...
      Key Vocabulary: javelin, hurdles, hurling, amateur, girdle, astronomer, observatory, boycott, immigrants, folklorist, advocate, anthropologist, menial, architect, veterans, mourned, entrepreneur, executive, congresswoman, dispossessed, democratic, missionaries, diplomat, publications, contemporary

      Electronic Resources:
      • CynthiaLee: Here on the author's website, there is an excerpt from the book, as well as a starred review by Booklist and Kirkus (shown at the bottom of this blog). This would be a good website to visit after reading the book.
      • Cynthia Chin-Lee
      • Awards: After reading you can visit the publishers website to see all of the awards that Amelia to Zora has won. The few big awards were mentioned above, but this book continues to receive rewards for its exceptional quality.
      • BookReview: Before reading if you want to know how others feel about this book, you can read a review by armchairinterviews here.
      • Interview: Here you can read an interview with Cynthia Chin-Lee as she answers questions about Amelia to Zora. This would be great for post reading clarification for students.
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Ask students if they know about any famous people. What did they do? Why are they famous? Do you know any women that are famous? Get their minds going, thinking about what it means to be famous and what it means to change something.
      • During Reading: As you read, enable students to identify what the women's roles were. For example, Rachel Carson was an environmentalist...what does that mean? What did she do? Enable them to see all the different things and roles the women played in life. Tell them that anyone can be great and anyone can do great things.
      • Post Reading:  Give each student a woman discussed in the book. The students may have to refer back to the book, so it may be a good idea to make photocopies of the women in the book. Tell the students that they are to write in their own words about the woman they were given and why she made such a contribution to the world. Specify that you do not just want facts given in the book, but that you want them to think deeper about what it was that they did that changed the world forever. Have them write a couple paragraphs in detail to show their inferential comprehension.

      "In this engaging book, Chin-Lee evokes the stories of 26 women, their unique voices, visions, and victories. Young readers will find inspiration and motivation in each woman's story and her powerful message. From sports figures like Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Kristi Yamaguchi to scientist, such as Grace Hopper, and writers like Zora Neale Hurston, our world has been influenced by women and their hard work and zeal for the life they love. Beautiful. Intricate collages spotlight each woman and her special gift." --Booklist && Kirkus Reviews

      Lee, C., Halsey, M., & Addy, S. (2005). Amelia to Zora: twenty-six women who changed the world. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Stars and Stripes

      Patriotic, Monumental, Enlightening, Eloquent, Embellished
      Stars and Stripes the Story of the American Flag by Sarah L. Thomson
      Illustrated by Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin
      Published by HaperCollins Copyright 2003

      “A solid choice for introducing the history of both our flag and our country….A 21-gun patriotic salute.” -School Library Journal

      Stars and Stripes trace the history and existence of the American flag. Two hundred and fifty years ago there was no flag, and therefore we retrace how the American flag was created and brought about today. Sarah L. Thomson introduces children to a part of history that is still unknown, who created the American flag? On the end note, she clarifies that it was not Betsy Ross that sewed the first flag, as many previously thought. Thomson returns back to when American was not a country, but a group of thirteen colonies. She then goes into detail about the Revolutionary War and how those flags changed over time. And even though they were flags, sometimes they were made out of rags and cloths. Thomson continues to describe history as America progresses, as Francis wrote The Star Spangled Banner that we have all come to know today. Finally, in 1818 America decided on the flag we have today. Thomson uses history and knowledge to capture readers interest. 

      Reading Level: Grade  3/4 Lexile 710L
      Suggested Delivery: Read aloud or small group read
      Extras: Before the story begins there are notes on the flags you can read about. At the end, there is also a section called "What about Betsy Ross?" where you can discover she did not sew the first American flag like many people seem to believe. In the back on the jacket flap you can also read about the author and the illustrators. 

      Teachers, here are some resources that may help with Stars and Stripes...
      Key Vocabulary: It might be helpful to address some of these vocabulary words before reading this book: colonies, taxes, commanded, govern, congress, constellation, anthem, confederate, united, pentagon
      Electronic Resources:
      • Powell Books: Here you can see a synopsis and reviews from readers after you have read the book. 
      • Scholastic: On scholastic you can find information about the book, the grade level equivalent, the DRA and much more. This may be helpful for teachers for post reading, or useful for students after they have read the book.  
      • Children'sReview: On this website you can read a review from the perspective of a child. Great for children to see before they read the book because it might capture their interest.
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Ask students what they know about flags. Does anyone know how many stars are on the flag? Stripes? (Invite them to count the stars if no one knows the answer.) Why are there that many stars? Why are there that many stripes?
      • During Reading: Have students make a timeline of dates, including information that they discovered along the way.
      • Post Reading: Is it important to have a flag? What does it mean to have a flag? Write a response on a piece of paper.
      Thomson, S. L., Dacey, B., & Bandelin, D. (2003). Stars and stripes: the story of the American flag. New York: Harper Collins.

      Seeds of Change

      Uplifting, Titillating, Harmonious, Enchanting, Efficacious
      Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson
      Illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler Copyright 2010
      Published by Lee & Low Books Inc. 

      Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent 2011 &&
       The Newton Marasco Foundation's 2011
       Green Earth Honor Book Award
      "It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees." Wangari Maathai

       As a young child, Wangari was taught to respect and love nature. Wangari wanted to learn even more about the world, and unlike most Kenyan girls, she was able to go to school.  After elementary school, she wanted to do more. So Wangari packed her bags, said goodbye to the mugumo trees, her village and her family. In the United States, she excelled in science, wanting to become a biologist. While discovering the differences between America and Kenya, her dream of becoming a biologist came true. Wangari graduated from college and went to Pennsylvania to continue her education. After, Wangari returned home and continued to educate women and fight for their rights. The new government was destroying the Kenya land and earth that she loved. Wangari gathered her family and friends and started planting trees. Though Wangari struggled through this, in 2004, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was the first environmentalist and African women to be awarded with such a prize. 

      Reading Level: Grades 4/5 Lexile 820L
      Suggested Delivery: This book could be used as a read aloud to facilitate a discussion about the environment, or could be used small group read for more advanced readers.
      Extras: On the back of the jacket there is information about the author and illustrator, and the end pages include information about Wangari Maathai and the true story of her Nobel Peace Prize.  

      Teachers, here are some resources that might help you teach Seeds of Change...
      Key Vocabulary: Here are some vocabulary words that might need to be taught before reading the book: mugumo, ancestors, millet, arrowroot, nourishment, skyscrapers, photosynthesis, acacia, maize, sneered, petri dishes, cells, government, foreign, abundant, saplings, plantations, ambassadors, democracy, parliament, minister, prestigious, environmentalist, persistence 

      Electronic Resources
      • NobelPeacePrizeBibliography: On this site you can read about Wangari Maathai and her journey throughout her lifetime. There is information about her Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and all the campaigns and interesting things she has accomplished. This website is great for post reading.
      •  JenCullertonJohnson: After reading, on the authors website you can read a summary of Seeds of Change, information about Jen, information about schools and visits, as well as many reviews from different publishers and companies. 
      •  Lee&LowBooks: After reading, on the publishers website you can read an interview with the two authors as they answer questions about Seeds of Change.  
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Tell children to look at the cover and make predictions about what they think the book will be about. Why do you think its called "Seeds of Change"? What do you think that means? Has anyone ever planted seeds before? What kind of things grow from seeds?
      • During Reading: Ask children about other cultures and how other places do things different from the United States. Does every place in the world do the same exact things? What are some different things that each culture does? Discuss different cultures within the room and different things each family does that may not be like other families. Invite the children to fill out a Venn Diagram of similarities and differences from Kenya and the United States as they read. 
      • Post Reading: Direct children to try to uncover the message behind the book. So what do you think this book was trying to tell us? What was Wangari trying to do in the book? How come the government men in the book were trying to stop her? How does this relate to us and our world today? On a piece of paper, write a couple paragraphs answering these questions. 
      "We might not change the big world but we can change the landscape of the forest." --Wangari
      Johnson, J. C., & Sadler, S. L. (2010). Seeds of change: planting a path to peace. New York: Lee & Low Books.

      Two Bobbies

      Genuine, Authentic, Cultivating, Empowering, Stirring
      Two Bobbies A True Story of Hurrican Katrina, Friendship, and Survival 
      by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
      Illustrated by Jean Cassels Copyright 2008
      Published by Walker Publishing Company
      Children's Choice Award 2009

      "This moving story about the importance of friendship and home highlights the plight of the hurricane's lost and left-behind animals, as well as the value of animal shelters."--Booklist

      In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit in Bobbi and Bot Cat's hometown of New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything, killing many people and animals. Debris and devastation filled the town, as many looked for their loved ones. Two Bobbies tells the story of Hurricane Katrina and how two best friends survived only through each other. For days Bobbi and Bob Cat went without food and water, searching for their families aimlessly. Eventually, they found a construction site where a man Rich gave them food and water, but only for so long. Rich took them to a temporary shelter called "Celebration Station" where other animals were as well. That night, Bob Cat and Bobbi were placed in separate rooms, but this did not last for long. Bobbi and Bob Cat had grown so close that they could not be without each other, so they were placed back together, only to have people figure out that Bob Cat was blind! After a month, Celebration Station was forced to close its doors, and Bobbi and Bob Cat were shown on CNN. Everyone wanted the two best friends! This remarkable, true story shows the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but also the story of two best friends that couldn't have made it without each other.  

      Reading Level: Grade 3/4 Lexile AD810
      Suggested Delivery: This book could be used as a small group or a read-aloud book to discuss Hurricane Katrina and some of the things that happened, or it could be used as an independent read.
      Extras: On the end pages of the book you can read "After the Storm" which describes how Bobbi and Bob Cat survived their ordeal and how they are doing now. You can also read about the authors and the illustrator on the jacket flap at the end of the book.
      Teachers here are some resources that may help with teaching Two Bobbies... 
      Key Vocabulary: Here are some words you may considering pre teaching: Mardi Gras, bustled, levees, tethered, debris, receded, devastated, ruckus, sanctuary
      Electronic Resources: Here are some resources that may be used to enhance the knowledge of Two Bobbies.
      • TwoBobbies: Two Bobbies has its own website, where you can read all about the bobbies, including their favorite food and toys, as well as the awards and reviews the book has received, information about the creators, author appearances, and other links, including a coloring page of Bobbi and Bob Cat. This website could be used pre, during or post reading.
      • MaryNetheryInterview: Here you can watch as Mary Nethery talks about the background behind the story and how she came to write the book. This could be used for an intiation to capture students interests or as a closure to sum up the lesson. 
      • KirbyLarson: This website has information about Two Bobbies, as well as information about the authors. It includes reviews, awards, interviews with Kirby, a trailer video, reading audio where you can hear Kirby read the first two pages of Two Bobbies, and a gallery with actual pictures of Bobbi and Bob Cat. This website could be used during or after reading.
      • Bobbi and Bob Cat with new mom Melinda
      •  BestFriendsNetwork: While remembering hurricane Katrina, Bobbi and Bob Cat were remembered for their remarkable friendship and journey. Thanks to Melinda, Bobbi and Bob Cat found the perfect home to live together happily. After reading, it would be a good idea to show children this website to let them know how Bobbi and Bob Cat are doing.
      • BobbiesOnNBC: These two incredible animals were featured on television multiple times. Here you can watch the two bobbies, Melinda speak about other animals hardships through hurricane Katrina and the two bobbies and how they came to live with her. 
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Ask students, what does loyalty mean? In what ways can friends be loyal? Look at the neighborhood on the cover. What do you think happened in this neighborhood? Do you think anybody lives in these houses? What can you tell about these pets from the picture?
      • During Reading: What do you think it was like in the flooded New Orleans neighborhoods after the hurricane? How must the pets have felt? What do you think the X's painted on the door mean? Have the students write a paragraph answering these questions. Explain to the children that in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit, people were told to leave their homes and find shelter far away, and that those people who went to a shelter were not allowed to bring their pets.
      • Post Reading: Locate a map of the U.S. and show the children where Mississippi is on the map, and then locate New Orleans. Show the students the area of the state affected by hurricane Katrina. It may also be useful to bring in background information of hurricane Katrina, including other books, facts, and videos describing the event. Explain to the children that it was a very sad and hard time for people, but that these things do unfortunately happen to some people.
      Hurricane Katrina was the sixth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States. It was rated as a Category 3 hurricane, with winds as high as 110 miles an hour. Nearly 10,000 animals were left homeless.

      "An excellent introduction to Katrina for young children, this touching animal tale memorializes a modern catastrophe and pays tribute to the many volunteers who traveled to New Orleans to help." –School Library Journal

      Larson, K., Nethery, M., & Cassels, J. (2008). Two Bobbies: a true story of Hurricane Katrina, friendship, and survival. New York: Walker Publishing Company.

      Sunday, August 14, 2011

      Walk Two Moons

       Unpredictable, Intriguing, Interlaced, Compelling, Equivocal
       Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
      Published by Harper Collins Copyright 1994
      1995  Newbery Medal Award Winner

      While traveling in the car with her grandparents on a road trip to Idaho to visit her mother, the main character Salamanca Tree Hiddle tells stories about her best friend Phoebe. Intertwined in Phoebe's story is another story about Sal and her life with her parents, particularly her mother. Sal and Phoebe share some of the same feelings of sadness, confusion and despair when their mothers leave the family. Along the way we encountered multiple stories meshed together, as Sharon Creech addresses many issues one might face in their lifetime. 

      Reading Level: Grade 5/6 Lexile 770L
      Suggested Delivery: Small group or independent read 

      Teachers, here are some resources that may help with Walk Two Moons...
      Key Vocabulary: Here are some key vocabulary words that may need to be taught before reading for stronger comprehension: chickabiddy, ornery, crotchety, sullen, lunatic, omnipotent, cavorted, pandemonium, prissy, shrapnel, quarry, cantankerous, ruination, dissuade, diabolic, malevolent, muesli, miscellaneous

      Electronic Resources: 
      • About Sharon Creech: This website gives you background information about Sharon Creech, and all the books she has written. Here you can find summaries of her books, read about her inspiration to write the books, and about the Newbery Medal she received for this book. 
      • Teacher Cyber Guide: This website includes an introduction along with materials, activities, additional websites, as well as additional links to other websites about sitting bull, Sequoya, native American leaders, and much more. After reading, this would be a great website to visit to extend students knowledge about the topic.
      • StudyGuide: Here you can find a study guide filled with resources for teachers including  information about the work, media links, teaching options, assessment options, options for using related readings, and an answer key and assessment rubrics. For students, there is a section they can read about the author and her life, introduce the book, before and post reading activity questions, graphic organizers to complete as they read and a test at the end. 
      • Vocabulary Game: Here you can find flashcards that can be printed and used for a vocabulary matching game for the students after they have read Walk Two Moons.
      • HuzzaHuzza: Listen to Sharon Creech say "huzza huzza" and explain its meaning and where it came from. It may be helpful to introduce this prior to reading so when students come across the phrase they understand its meaning.
      Activities for Students:
      • Before Reading: Ask students questions about traveling and trips. Has anyone ever traveled? Have you been on a road trip? If so, where did you go? If you haven't traveled, where would you like to go? What do you think it would be like to travel? Write a paragraph explaining these questions. 
      • During Reading: Create a flow chart of events as a group. Distinguish the differences and similarities of the events between the two stories (Phoebe and Sal's). It may also be beneficial to create a Venn Diagram of Phoebe and Sal's stories.
      • Post Reading: Throughout the story, there are messages found on the Winterbottom's doorstep. Later we discover it was Mrs. Partridge. She leaves four notes, which say:
      "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins."
      "Everyone has his own agenda."
      "In the course of a lifetime, what does it matter?"
      "You can't keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair" 
      Pick one of these quotes and write about what you think it means. Use key details from the story to support your answers. 

      Creech, S. (1994). Walk two moons . New York: HarperCollins.