Joey Pigza Loses Control


Bibliographic Information: Gantos, J. Joey Pigza Loses Control. (2000). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Brief Annotation: Joey Pigza is a hyperactive kid who begins to turn his life around after a time in Special Ed and a new set of medicine patches.  However, when he meets his dad, Carter, for the first time in a long time, he sees his old, hyperactive self in his dad and begins anew the struggle to control his life.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 4-7

Readers who will like this: Students who like reading from the perspective of people their age, students with ADD or ADHD.

Rating/Response: 3. The first-person perspective couldn’t have been used better, and it is very relatable to students, especially those who go through the same things as Joey.  This one would be a good book to recommend to any of your students.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have any of you ever met someone and had a different experience than what you expected?  Have you ever been influenced someone like that?

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert


One Green Apple

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Bibliographic Information: Bunting, Eve. (2006). New York: Clarion Books.

Brief Annotation: This touching story is about Farah, a student that is new to America. Farah doesn’t speak any English and is feeling like she doesn’t fit in at her new school. The class takes a trip to an apple orchard and the things that Farah sees and hears at the orchard make her realize that the things in America aren’t so different than where she is from.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this: Students that are from another country, students who don’t speak good English

Rating/Response: 5, I really enjoyed this book. I think it would be very beneficial for students to hear a story like this at the beginning of the school year. It would teach the students that they will have classmates that maybe don’t speak English or aren’t from America but that doesn’t mean they are that different from us.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: How would you feel if you moved to a new country and didn’t speak the language that is spoken in that country?

Posted by: Alyssa Timmerman

My Family Plays Music

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Bibliographic Information: Cox, Judy. (2003). My Family Plays Music. New York: Holiday House.

Brief Annotation: This story is about a young girl whose entire family plays different instruments and when she plays music with them she plays a different instrument.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: K-2

Readers who will like this: Students who like music

Rating/Response: 3, This is a fun story but I felt that it was sort of repetitive. It includes a lot of different styles of music and I thought that was really interesting.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have any of you ever played a musical instrument?

Posted by: Alyssa Timmerman

The Matatu

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Bibliographic Information: Walters, Eric. (2012). The Matatu. Canada: Orca Book Publishers.

Brief Annotation: Kioko and his grandfather are riding on a Matatu (bus) in Africa and his grandfather tells him an African folktale story about a dog, sheep and a goat.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this: Children who like folktales or stories about animals

Rating/Response: 4 This is a fun book about a folktale from another culture. It could be used for younger grades during a unit about folktales/stories.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What folktales do you know?

Posted by: Alyssa Timmerman

The General


Bibliographic information: Charters, J. The General. (2010). U.S.: Candlewick Press

Annotation: General Jodhpur, a military leader with a dream of commanding the world’s greatest army, stumbles into a meadow filled with flowers and discovers the good things in the world that are worth preserving.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade level: K-2

Readers who will like this book: Pretty much any young child and students that are peacemakers.

Rating/Response: 2. It’s a nice little story with a peaceful message, but there really isn’t much of a plot.  This would be a good one-day read after lunch or something.

One question you would ask before a read aloud? How many of you would consider yourselves peacemakers?  Think about why you would.

Posted by: Iliya Hoffert

Hello Ocean


Bibliographic Information: Ryan, Pam Muñoz., and Mark Astrella. Hello, Ocean! Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2001. Print.

Annotation:  Using your five senses take a journey through memories of the ocean. You truly feel, see, hear, taste, and smell the waves, shore, and sand as you read this book.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this: Children who like the beach, children who are learning the five senses, children who are bilingual.

Rating/Response: 4 I loved how the writing made you feel as if these memories were my very own. Made me want to visit the beach! I also enjoyed how it was written in both english and spanish. Great for students learning either language. Good book!

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What are our five senses?

Posted by: Annie Hart

The Junkyard Wonders


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

Arnie and the New Kid


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

Bridge to Terabithia


Bibliographic Information:  Paterson, Katherine, and Donna Diamond. Bridge to Terabithia. New York, NY: Crowell, 1977. Print.

Brief Annotation: Jesse Aarons, an eleven year old boy in a small town who has always been known as the quiet kid, suddenly becomes friends with the new girl Leslie Burke after a school runnign race.  Together, they explore and imagine in the woods near their homes.  They create an imaginary kingdom called Terabithia where they solve all of the world’s problems from bullies to insecurities.  After a series of devistating events, Jesse wonders –  Will Terabithia ever be the same?

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: 3-6

Readers who will like this: Children who are adventurous, children who like to explore, children who have wild imaginations, children who are friends with other children of the opposite sex, children who like to take risks.

Rating/Response: 5 Bridge to Terabithia was one of my absolute favorite books growing up.  It challenges children to take risks, shows them what true friendship is like, and sparks their imagination.  I think it would be a great book to include in a unit on movies vs. books because the movie (made in 2006) is very compelling.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  Do you have a best friend? Who is it?

Posted by: Maggie Ellis

How to Get a Job by Me, the Boss


Bibliographic Information: Lloyd-Jones, Sally, and Sue Heap. How to Get a Job by Me, the Boss. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2011. Print.

Brief Annotation: There are many different jobs.  Whatever you want to be, this book is your guide to getting a job.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Grade Level: K-3

Readers who will like this: Children who dream, children who have an interest, children who think about the future

Rating/Response: 5  This book was wonderful from the colorful illustrations to describing the process of getting a job in a kid-friendly manner.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted by: Katie Reisdorf