Charlotte’s Web

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Bibliographic Information:  White, E. B. Charlotte’s Web. New York: Harper, 1952. Print.

Brief Annotation: This the story of a young girl named Fern, a naive pig named Wilbur and his adventures on the farm with a wise spider named Charlotte.  When Wilbur’s life is in danger, it is up to Charlotte and her wisdom to save his life.  Will the efforts of one tiny spider be enough?  Read this book and discover the true meaning of friendship and sacrifice.

Genre: Free Choice (Chapter Book)

Grade Level: 3-6

Readers who will like this: Children who like animals, children who like adventure, children who like farms, children who value friendship, children who enjoy surprises.

Rating/Response: 5  I loved reading this book as a student many years ago and again now as a college student!  It would be a great book to read during a unit on farm life or the circle of life.  It would also be a great book to get students excited about reading and to use as an extended read aloud.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  Have you ever been to a farm before?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

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Wild Wings: Poems for Young People

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Bibliographic Information:  Yolen, Jane, and Jason Stemple. Wild Wings: Poems for Young People. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills, 2002. Print.

Brief Annotation: Discover the intriguing lives of birds all around the world through the insightful and informational poems of Jane Yolen and vibrant photographs of Jason Stemple.  From hummingbirds to swallows to green herons, students can discover how these birds eat, live and thrive in the world around them.

Genre: Poetry

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this: Children who like birds, children who like nature, children who like poetry, children who like photography, children who like to learn.

Rating/Response: 5  I really enjoyed reading the poems in this book.  I think it could be a great addition to a unit on different types of birds or poetry.  This would be a great way to integrate science (learning about birds/their habitats), literature (poetry), and art (photography).

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  How many different types of birds can you name?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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Bibliographic Information:  Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. New York: Bantam, 1993. Print.

Brief Annotation: Learn about the tragic events of World War II through the first-hand account of Anne Frank, a thirteen-year old Jewish girl hiding in an attic from the terrifying Nazi soldiers.  Through her personal diary entries, discover the horrific conditions Jewish people were subjected to in this time period and the inspiring courage it took for one girl to fight for her life.

Genre: Informational (Non-Fiction)

Grade Level: 6-8

Readers who will like this: Children who like history, children who are interested in World War II, children who are interested in religious studies, children who have relatives from Europe.

Rating/Response: 5  I think this is a fantastic way to introduce units on World War II, injustice, and even personal writing development.   Anne Frank’s story of perseverance and courage is inspiring for all middle school students.  I think all students can learn a new appreciation for the things they are blessed with through this story.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  What do you know about World War II?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell

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Bibliographic Information:  Brown, Don, and Andrew Arnold. America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day The Towers Fell. New York: Roaring Brook, 2011. Print.

Brief Annotation: Experience the tragic and breathtaking events that occurred on the day that changed the world forever.  Through descriptive, accessible narration and vivid watercolor paintings, children who are too young to live through September 11th, 2001 can learn to appreciate the national day of remembrance.

Genre: Informational (Non-Fiction)

Grade Level: 1-5

Readers who will like this: Children who like history, children who are interested in the war, children who like to learn.

Rating/Response: 4  I think it is vital for students to learn about events like 9/11 that shaped our nation, even though they may be tragic.  This book does a fabulous job introducing the topic in a sensitive and informational matter.  The only problem I have is that it may instill a bit of airplane fear in students too young to understand how rare of an occurrence an event like this is.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  What do you know about September 11th, 2001?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

Mrs. Frisbe and the Rats of NIMH

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Bibliographic Information:  O’Brien, Robert C., and Zena Bernstein. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. New York, NY: Atheneum, 1971. Print.

Brief Annotation: Learning how to read can be tough, but not for the Rats of NIMH.  Raised in a laboratory where experimentation made them literate, these rats discovered how to escape and fend for themselves in the outside world.  When rat widow Mrs. Frisbe needs to move her children to safety after the death of her husband, will the Rats of NIMH be able to help her?

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this: Children who like adventure, children who like rats and mice, children who like to experiment, children who like science, children who have large imaginations.

Rating/Response: 4  The fourth grade class I visited during my urban immersion was in the middle of reading this book.  All of the students were very engaged while the teacher read and seemed to really enjoy it!  It isn’t a book I would pick to read independently, but I think any book that can get a class engaged like I witnessed is worth reading.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  How long did it take you to learn to read?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

Henry’s Freedom Box

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Bibliographic Information: Levine, E. (2007). Henry’s Freedom Box. New York: Scholastic Press.

Brief Annotation: Henry is an African slave in the southern United States in the 19th century.  He grows up and marries Nancy, a slave from another master.  When his wife and children are sold to a master far away, he hatches a plan to gain his freedom: He mails himself in a box to Pennsylvania.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade Level: K-4

Readers who will like this: Children who have endured hardship or have been separated from their families; children who have learned or begun to learn about slavery in America.

Rating/Response: 4 This was a great book.  It tells just one of the stories of the hardships that African slaves suffered in America.  It will tug the heartstrings of every student in the classroom.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you know about slavery in America?  What things do you know that African people suffered?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert

The Cats in Krasinski Square

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Bibliographic Information: Hesse, K. (2004). The Cats in Krasinski Square. New York: Scholastic Press

Brief Annotation: The main character, a young Jewish girl living in Poland, finds a way to outsmart the Gestapo and their sniffing dogs who are trying to stop the smuggling of food to Jews in the Ghetto.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade Level: K-2

Readers who will like this: Children who have some sort of emotional connection with the Holocaust; children whose family members survived the Holocaust; children who show an affinity for or a like of justice.

Rating/Response: 2 I only rated it a 2 out of 5 because the story doesn’t tell much.  It is definitely well-written, and I think young children could understand the feelings well that are portrayed from the main character in first-person, but it is definitely a supplementary text and probably wouldn’t have much time spent on it.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you think this book could possibly about?  If I told you it was about the Holocaust (assuming the Holocaust has already been explained to them), would that change your guess?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert

The Junkyard Wonders

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Bibliographic Information: Polacco, P. (2010). The Junkyard Wonders. New York: The Penguin Group.

Brief Annotation: The main character, an elementary school girl, is placed in a special education course in her new school.  She is rejected by the students in standard curriculum classes, but she forms a unique bond with the students in her classroom, “The Junkyard,” and with constant encouragement from their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, the students go on to do great things like textile designing in Paris, aeronautical engineering for NASA, and more.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 2-4

Readers who will like this: Children in Special Education classes; children who have developmental or other disabilities; children who feel behind other students; children who are teased.

Rating/Response: 3 This book was written by Patricia Polacco, the author of Thank You, Mr. Falker.  This is definitely one I would use in my classroom if I thought it would positively affect even one child.  It could help a student to pursue their dreams even through opposition.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever been told that you couldn’t do something?  How did it make you feel?  How does it make you feel to be encouraged to do something?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert

Walter the Farting Dog

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Bibliographic Info: Kotzwinkle, W. & Murray, G. (2001). Walter the Farting Dog. Berkeley, CA: Frog, Ltd.

Annotation: Walter is a wonderful dog who has a farting problem.  Billy and Betty love him but their dad says he has to go back to the pound.  The kids and Walter come up with a plan to keep him with their family.  He saves the family from burglars with his gas and they all fall in love all over again.

Genre: Free Choice (picture)

Grade Level: 2-8

Readers who will like this book: All children will love this book.  What child wouldn’t like a story about a farting dog?

Response/Rating: I would give this book a 5.  It is very entertaining and will get kids excited to read.

Question: Everybody farts.  What about animals? Dogs? cats? Elephants?

Posted By: Natalie Gannon

Arnie and the New Kid

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Bibliographic Information: Carlson, N. (1990). Arnie and the New Kid. Viking, NY: Penguin Group.

Annotation: Arnie meets a new classmate who is in a wheelchair.  Arnie teases him until he is in a cast and needs help.  Arnie learns to respect others and their differences.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Readers who will like this book: Anyone who has not been introduced to much diversity.  This will teach them respect and empathy.

Response/Rating: I liked this book.  It depicts children’s school struggles while teaching the readers about empathy, respect, and forgiveness.

Question: What is diversity?

Posted By: Natalie Gannon