The Polar Express


Bibliographic Info: Van, A. C. (1985). The Polar Express. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Annotation:  A young boy is woken up by a train passing his window.  It is the Polar Express, taking kids to the North Pole.  When he is there he is offered the first gift of christmas and he chooses a bell from Santa’s sleigh.  He loses it on his way back home but it is given back to him the next morning wrapped under the tree.  He is mesmerized by the events of the night before.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade level: 3-6

Readers who will like this book: I feel that all children would like this book.  Especially if they particularly like Christmas.

Response/Rating: I love Christmas so this book was perfect for me.  It is a very fun twist on the holiday.  I give this book a 5.

Question: What does your family do for the winter holidays?

Posted By: Natalie Gannon


Where the Wild Things Are


Bibliographic Info:  Sendak, M. (1963). Where the wild things are. New York: Harper & Row.

Annotation:  After getting in trouble with his parents, Max is sent to his room.  His room magically changes into this far away land; an island full of scary creatures called Wild Things.  Max intimidates all the creatures and they  name him king of the WIld Things.  He enjoys them very much, plays with them and has a great time.  Eventually he needs to go back home where his mom has dinner waiting.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this book: Readers with a strong imagination will like this book.  Since it is a fantasy book, they will need to use their imagination to believe it.

Response/Rating:  I think this book is adorable.  It is a classic that I’m sure every child has read or have had read to them.  I would give this book a 5.

Question:  Use your imagination, and draw a picture of what a Wild Thing Monster looks like to you.

Posted By: Natalie Gannon

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi


Bibliographic information: Allsburg, C.V. The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. (1979). U.S.: Houghton Mifflin

Annotation: Young Alan Mitz meets the magician, Abdul Gasazi, when he chases after Miss Hester’s dog, Fritz, into Mr. Gasazi’s garden.  After the debacle, Miss Hester tells Alan that there are no such things as real magicians.  Or are there?

Genre: Fantasy

Grade level: K-2

Readers who will like this book: Readers who like magic, readers who like dogs, readers who like wonder.

Rating/Response: 4. A cute little book about an unruly dog and a young boy who chases after him.  I really think kids would like this book for a short story time.

One question you would ask before a read aloud? Have you ever taken care of a dog before?  Was it ever difficult?  Do you like magic?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert



Bibliographic information: Dekker, T. Chosen. (2007). U.S.: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Johnis was born with the mark of the Chosen on his ear, and only he can see the Roush, the white winged creatures spoken of in legends.  After he turns 16, his birthmark is made known to the community, and worse still, Thomas of Hunter, the Forest Dwellers’ leader, doubts Johnis’ abilities to fulfill his new, dangerous position as the Chosen.  Alongside Silvie, Darsal, and Billos, the other Forest Dwellers chosen to help Johnis liberate the Forest Dwellers from the scourge of the Horde, Johnis must make terrifying decisions that shape his future and the future of the entire world.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade level: 5-8

Readers who will like this book: Readers who like dystopian fiction, readers who have gone through a very trying time, readers who like to read fantasy.

Rating/Response: 4. Very interesting and thought-provoking.  The author is Christian and has incorporated some Christian themes into this and others of his books, but they are actually pretty well-hidden and may not be noticeable by many until reflection after having finished the book.  Those themes do not need to be realized or understood to understand the full effect of the plot or characters.  The plot is intense and gripping.

One question you would ask before a read aloud? Do any of you remember a time when you had to make a decision but did not know what to do?  How did you respond to that situation?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert



Bibliographic Information: Jacques, B. Doomwyte. (2008). U.S.: Philomel Books.

Brief Annotation: Bisky the mouse and Dwink the squirrel, two inhabitants of Redwall Abbey, must survive the looming threat of the villainous Korvus Skurr, king of the raven Doomwytes.  Faced with numerous perils, they soon discover that their salvation lies in the finding of the Doomwyte’s Eyes, four jewels stolen ages ago by Gonff, the legendary Prince of Mousethieves and one of the founders of Redwall Abbey.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 4-8

Readers who will like this: Children who like reading about animals and fantasy stories.

Rating/Response: 3. Like the Hardy Boys, this would be a story read more for entertainment aloud during class, but it is definitely an entertaining read.  There is plenty of death, so be sure your children can handle it by reading it yourself first.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: How many of you like stories and animals, and how many of you like medieval stories (show of hands)?  How many of you would like to see these two combined?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert

Harold and The Purple Crayon


Bibliographic Information: Johnson, C. (1955). Harold and the purple crayon. New York: Harper & Row.

Brief Annotation: This is the story of a young boy named Harold who uses his imagination and a purple crayon to create his own world.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: K-3

Readers who will like this: Children who love adventures and using their imagination; Children who like to draw

Rating/Response:  5. I think this would be a great book to do with an art lesson. Students could pick one color crayon and create their own world and also write a story to go along with it. I think kids would really enjoy this!

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever wanted to create your own imaginary world?

Posted by: Christina Angell

A Bad Case of the Stripes


Bibliographic Information: Shannon, David. A Bad Case of Stripes. New York: Blue Sky, 1998. Print.

Annotation:  Camilla refuses to eat her lima beans and soon finds herself covered in stripes. Then before she knows it the stripes turn to polka dots and zig zags. She must find who she is to overcome this strange sickness.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this: Children who like fantasy, children who don’t eat vegetables, children who are still deciding who they are as a person.

Rating/Response: 5 I loved how this book turned not eating veggies into a fun and unusual take on finding out who you are, The pictures are so well done.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What happens if you don’t eat your vegetables?

Posted by: Annie Hart 

Room on the Broom


Bibliographic Information: Donaldson, Julia, and Axel Scheffler. Room on the Broom. New York: Dial for Young Readers, 2001.

Annotation: A witch and her cat are flying through the sky on her broomstick when the wind blows away her hat, bow and wand.  Three animals find the items and ask for a ride on her broomstick in return.  Does the witch give them a ride?

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 1-4

Readers who will like this: Children who like witches, children who want to fly, children who are helpful

Rating/Response: 5 A wonderful lesson of returning items found to their owner with a fun twist of whether or not the witch will give the animals a ride on her broomstick.  Great story and illustrations!

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  What do you do when you find something that isn’t yours?

Posted by: Katie Reisdorf

Peter Pan


Bibliographic Information: Barrie, J. M., and Nora S. Unwin. Peter Pan. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950.Brief

Annotation: Peter Pan, also know as the boy who wouldn’t grow up, can fly and has many adventures on the island of Neverland.  He encounters mysterious characters throughout including a fairy, Tinker Bell and a pirate, Captain Hook.

Genre: Fantasy

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this: Children who like adventure, children who like pirates or fairies, children who like make believe

Rating/Response: 4 The story is a classic that catches your attention throughout.  The variety of characters is perfect for both boy and girl readers- Tinker Bell for girls, Captain Hook and Peter Pan for boys.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  Would you want to fly?  Where would you go if you could fly?

Posted by: Katie Reisdorf

Far, Far Away

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Bibliographic Information:

McNeal, Tom. Far Far Away. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.

Brief Annotation: Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives with his father in the Two Book Bookshop. Jeremy isn’t like normal boys because he can hear ghosts. This book follows Jeremey’s journey to try and save his home and to solve the mystery of where children are disappearing to.

Genre:  Fantasy

Grade Level: 5-8

Readers Who Will Like This: Readers who like fairy tales, older readers

Rating/Response: 4 I enjoyed this book but some material may be too graphic for younger readers. The book contains kidnappings, and holding people captive, as well as a serial killer. I would only suggest it for a middle school or high school classroom. It may seem like an inocent book at first glance, but it is a great example of why you must always pre-read a book before giving it to your students.

One Question You Would Ask Before a Read Aloud: What do you know about fairy tales? Do you believe in ghosts?

Posted By: Maria Muellerleile