Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

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With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Much Needed Book Joy

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well, it’s been quite a week.  Lots of emotion, lots of fear, lots of unknowns…  I found myself being drawn into the negative events on the news and became swept up by it all.

And so, this weekend I turned off the news and turned to books… A distraction? Perhaps. But reading these brand new picture books brought me pieces of joy, as they always do. And joy was what I needed this week.

(A big thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a box of joy!)

How to Be A Hero – Florence Parry Heide

What does it mean to be a hero?  Fame?  Cover of a magazine?   What does it take?  Bravery? Brains? Kissing a princess?   Gideon learns a good hero keeps their eyes open to the world.  Empowering, delightful and love the boy-centered fairy tale.

The Storybook Knight – Helen Docherty

“Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”

A charming story with the perfect message – violence is not the answer – books are!  With a gentle rhyme, we meet a Leo, the mouse, whose parents would rather him be swinging his sword rather than turning a page.  So Leo heads off to tame the  dangerous dragon… with a stack of books!   Love!

  The Wish Tree – Kyo Maclear

Sweet seasonal book with a tender message about believing in something when no one else seems to.  Poetic text and lovely illustrations.

Good Morning, City – Pat Kiernan

This book is written by Pat Kiernan, well-known morning anchor on NY1, New York City’s 24-hour news channel.  (Being from the west coast of Canada, I was not familiar with him, but apparently he was born in Calgary!)  It describes a city waking up and all the activities from early to mid-morning.  I really enjoyed the short, poetic descriptions combined with sound words. A great choice for visualizing and is now on my list of anchor books for when I teach onomatopoeia!  Beautiful illustrations with amazing use of light gradually brightening on each page. This is definitely one to check out!

Sleep Tight Farm – A Farm Prepares for Winter – Eugenie Doyle

Gentle, lyrical story about a farm getting ready for winter. Helps children understand this season of the year, and how the work of one season prepares for another. Stunning illustrations.  Lovely author’s note at the back.

Real Cowboys – Kate Hoefler

I love this gentle telling of the wonders of the west.  Soft poetic text and lovely illustrations.  I really liked the focus on positive personality traits: real cowboys cry; they are good listeners, willing to ask for help, patient and hard workers.  This book is quiet and moving with a subtle, but important lesson on empathy. 

Before Morning – Joyce Sidman

I adore everything Joyce Sidman writes… so was excited to see her new book about a family’s anticipation of a “snow day” following a snow storm.   This book is one you will need to pour over – with much of the story being told through the details in the illustrations – perfect for inferring!  I appreciated that Joyce Sidman includes an explanation of what an “invocation” poem is (poem that invites something to happen) inspiriting students to write their own!  Gorgeous “scratch-board” illustrations by Beth Krommes.

First Snow – Bomi Park

This book, translated from Korean, is quiet and charming, and captures the magic of snow and childhood wonder.  Simple, soft, and beautiful. 

Samson in the Snow – Philip C. Stead

Another gentle story of friendship from Philip Stead, this one about a woolly mammoth, a bird, a mouse and some dandelions.  Oh, how I love the quiet, gentle, kind and hopeful way he tells a story.  Gorgeous illustrations.

It Is Not Time for Sleeping ( A Bedtime Story) – Lisa Graff

Rhythmic, cumulative text describes a young child going through his nightly bedtime routines.  A perfect bedtime story – but also great for making connections in an early primary class.  Charming illustrations by Lauren Castillo. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Which books have caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books, Winter Books

Top 10 Remembrance Day Books

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With Halloween behind us, there are only a few school days before Remembrance Day. There are many books we can share in our classes to help children understand the significance and importance of this day and why we remember the men and women from all wars who have given their lives for our freedom. Some literal, some symbolic, some fictional, some factual –  here are my top Remembrance Day books for reading and sharing with students:

I love the inter-generational theme of this book as a young boy asks his grandfather questions about the war.  A perfect book for younger students that quietly honors the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.
2. A Poppy is to Remember – Heather Patterson
Moving text and stunning illustrations by Governor General’s Award-winning artist Ron Lightburn explains the symbolism behind the poppy.  Bonus 5 page spread all about poem “In Flanders Fields” and Canada’s peace-keeping practices.
3. The Poppy Lady – Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
Why do we wear a poppy on Remembrance Day?  Against all odds,  in a day when women had few rights and opportunities Moina Belle Michael almost single-handedly launched a national campaign to establish the red poppy as the symbol of sacrifice and courage of America’s soldiers.  Gorgeous illustrations.
A tribute to the famous World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields”.  Informative and moving, weaving the words of the poems with fascinating information and stunning illustrations. This is the 2015 special edition that marks 100 years since the poem was written and includes additional information and a new cover.
5. Feathers and Fools – Mem Fox
A powerful, moving allegorical tale intended for older students.  This modern fable is about peacocks and swans who allow the fear of their differences to become so great that they end up destroying each other.  An excellent book for inferring and for text-to-world connections.
6. Why? – Nikoli Popov
A frog picks a flower;  a mouse wants it… and so begins this simple, profound tale about how war starts and ends.  This wordless picture book is one I have shared with many classes – perfect for practicing inferring and stimulating important discussions.
7. Enemy – A Book About Peace – David Cali and Serge Bloch
This poignant book has many layers of meaning but ultimately, it is the story that shows the humanity behind war.  Two soldiers, each in their own solitary bunker, wonder what the other is doing and eventually learn they are more alike than they are different.  Simple but oh, so powerful.
8. No!  – David McPhail
The word “No” repeated three times is the only written text in this otherwise wordless book with a powerful message.  In simple terms that anyone can understand, McPhail tackles the weighty subject of war and its effects on people. What’s more, he shows us what we can do to stand up and say NO.
This is a  very sad picture book that tells the true story of a tragedy at the Tokyo zoo during World War II and the painful decision one zoo-keeper has to make.  This story really shows the impacts of war not just on humans, but on animals.  Warning – Kleenex required.

10. What Does Peace Feel Like? – Vladamir Radunsky
What does peace feel like?  Sound like?  Look like?  An anti-war message told subtly through the five senses using similes and metaphors.   Great anchor book for writing!
 
11. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan and Jon. J. Muth
Blowin’ in the Wind is a popular song during Remembrance Day assemblies.  Bob Dylan wrote the powerful lyrics to this iconic 1960’s song in 10 minutes; Jon Muth’s illustrations are stunning.  Together they create a wonderful way to introduce this message of protest, peace and freedom to younger students.
What books do you share with your students for Remembrance Day?
Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Infer, Picture Book, Remembrance Day, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Books for Teaching Point of View

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This term, I’m working with one of the grade six classes on writing from different points of view, skills which they will later apply to a unit on immigration they are working on in social studies.  Each week, I have been reading one of these books and the students have been practicing short writing pieces. I have been searching for different anchor books which can be used for introducing Point of View to the class so thought it would be a great topic for this week’s Top Ten List!  Many of these you will likely have or know… but there may be a few new titles for you!

1.Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Possibly the best book for teaching point of view – four “voices” tell their version of a walk in the park.  Anthony Browne is a master of telling a story without telling too much but leaving the reader a lot of spaces to think.  He also leaves clues in his illustrations that help tell the story.  I also love using this book for teaching inferring.

2.The Teddy Bear – David McPhail

This heart-felt story of a boy who loses his favorite teddy and the homeless man who finds and loves it is a perfect one for having students write in first person from the different characters’ perspective.  I even had them write from the teddy bear’s point of view!

3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

When you first see the crayons, you may think the story is too young for your middle grade students – WRONG!  This story  is filled with sophisticated humour that could be a little over the heads of some younger students.  I used this book to explain how different points of view can often reveal personality.  A great anchor book for writing, too!

4. Seven Blind Mice – Ed Young

Different points of view often depends on the perspective, connections and vantage point of the character.  In this clever book based on a classic South Asian tale, seven blind mice investigate the “strange something” in the Pond.  Each one views one portion and comes back with their theory.  It is only when the seventh mouse views the “whole something” that the truth is revealed.

5. Hey, Little Ant – Phillip and Hannah Hoose

To squish or not to squish? – that is the question.  Love this story, told in two voices; a conversation between the “squisher” and the potential “squish-ee”.  Perfect for discussing perspectives.

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School’s First Day of School – Adam Rex

This was one of my favorite new “back to school” books this fall!  A unique look at the nervousness and excitement about the start of the school year, told from the point of view of the school!

6. They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant and simple!  With each turn of the page, the reader is given the opportunity to also see how the cat is viewed from perspectives – from a bee, to a fox, to a child.  Bright, colorful illustrations.  After I finished reading it to the grade class, they wanted me to read it again!  I predict this book may be on a few award lists this year!

7. I am the Dog, I am the Cat – Donald Hall

Another perfect anchor book for point of view, as the contrasting voices of hilarious, affectionate companions converse together.  Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful words and I love the recognizable qualities of both animals that come through.  Kids love this book!

9. The Pain and the Great One – Judy Blume

An eight year old girl and her six year old brother take turns describing each other.  Hilarious and  another great example of different points of view, as well as a perfect connect book!

10. Two Bad Ants – Chris Van Alsburg

If you have not read this clever book by the amazing Chris Van Alsburg, you should!  I never get tired of reading this book aloud to students.  Two Bad Ants allows the reader to experience the world through two mischievous ants’ point of view as they explore a kitchen.  Ah-mazing, spell-binding, genius!

8. The Wolf Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood Toby Forward

A funny, fractured fairy tale that replays the story of Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf’s point of view.  This would be a great anchor book for re-writing a fairy tale from different points of view.

11. The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be – Mini Grey

Another clever version of a fairy tale, this one told from the point of view of the pea!  Very witty!

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book to teach Point of View?

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Filed under New Books, Point of View, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Gordon Downie – My Canadian Hero

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Secret Path

Secret Path – Gordon Downie

Gordon Downie, iconic front man for the Tragically Hip and who is suffering from terminal brain cancer, will release his first book called Secret Path this coming Tuesday, October 18th. (Downie’s new album, Secret Path, will be released on the same day).   Secret Path is a graphic novel Downie wrote to honor and shed light on the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ont.  Chanie died beside railroad tracks after escaping from the school and trying to walk to his home more than 600 kilometres away.  Downie learned of Chanie’s story, who was misnamed Charlie by his teachers, from a 1967 Maclean’s magazine article.  “I never knew Chanie, but I will always love him,” Downie said in an interview. “Chanie haunts me. His story is Canada’s story. This is about Canada. We are not the country we thought we were.”   A documentary film about Downie’s heartfelt project and visit to Chanie Wenjack’s family in Marten Falls will air on CBC on Oct. 23.   My TV is set.

For those of you who watched the Tragically Hip’s bittersweet farewell concert this summer,  in the midst of all the hit songs, you may remember Downie’s plea and comments to our prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau was in the crowd watching the concert and Downie spoke directly to him about Canada’s “dark past” and about trying to help fix the problems in Northern Canada.  “It’s maybe worse than it’s ever been, so it’s not on the improve. (But) we’re going to get it fixed and we got the guy to do it, to start, to help.”   At the time, I was not sure what he was talking about, but I was curious.  What I have since learned was that Downie was referring to the dark chapter in Canada’s history when more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were placed in government-funded residential schools.

I know that I often make the comment “This is a MUST HAVE book!” in my blog posts. But this is a book we truly all need to buy and share with our students because Chanie Wenjack’s story needs to be told.  Students will connect to him, ache for him and learn from him. Proceeds from this book and album will go to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the residential school system.

Is Gordon Downie ”qualified” to write this story even though he is not of aboriginal descent?  I believe he is.  His deep compassion for Chanie Wenjack, for his family and community qualifies him.  His extraordinary gift of words and powerful poetic voice qualifies him.  His strong desire to raise awareness of this critically important issue that he describes as “not an aboriginal problem; this is a Canadian problem” qualifies him.  His generosity, care, and deep humility, even in the face of his own death qualifies him. Gordon Downie has gifted us with a legacy of indelible music and lyrics and now has gifted us with this powerful story of Chanie Wenjack.  Gordon Downie is my Canadian hero.

Read more about Downie’s project here. Watch the official book trailer for Secret Path here.

Other new books on Truth and Reconciliation:

Wenjack – Joseph Boyden

Coincidentally, Scotiabank Giller Prize–winning author Joseph Boyden’s (Three Day Road, The Orenda) new short MG novel (112 pages) tells the same story of  Chanie Wenjack – his escape from a residential school and his long walk home through the forests of Northern Canada.  This book focuses on the spirits of the forest who accompany him on his journey, sometimes to torment but ultimately to bring him comfort.  Beautiful illustrations by Ken Monkman.  This would be a great companion to Secret Path.

I am Not a Number – Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

“Back home, long hair was a source of pride. We cut it when we lost a loved one. Now it felt as if a part of me was dying with every strand that fell.”
It’s not always easy to broach this subject with younger students but this book, based on the author’s grandmother’s experience in residential school, is written in straightforward, simple language that will help younger children understand what happened.  It is a powerful, heartbreaking and important story to share and to have in your school library.

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools – Melanie Florence

This Nonfiction book is dense with text and information, but would be an excellent resource for teachers who were studying this period in history with their class.   I like that it includes historical photographs, documents, and first-person narratives from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people who survived residential schools.  I would use it to read short passages for read aloud/think aloud lessons.  Great for practicing questioning.  (Please note: there is some criticism of this book having some inaccurate information about rituals that are described as being in “the past” but which, in fact, are still part of present-day aboriginal culture.  Also for the misspelling the word Métis (spelled with no accent and Me-tis).

Thanks for stopping by.  Please leave your thoughts in a quick reply!

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Filed under New Books, Redsigned BC curriculum, residential school, Truth and reconciliation

The Most Magnificent School Project! Using picture books to promote school-wide critical thinking project.

Sexsmith’s Most Magnificent School Project

If you tell me, I will forget.  If you teach me, I will remember.  If you involve me, I will learn.                                                                                                                                          –  Ben Franklin

As you may be aware, the curriculum in British Columbia has been redesigned to reflect a more inquiry based approach to learning and teachers are beginning to implement many of the new ideas into their units of study.  This year, my school (J. W. Sexsmith in Vancouver) is specifically focusing on one of the three core competencies of the new curriculum – critical thinking.  Critical thinking is an approach to learning that involves analyzing, questioning and developing a plan, idea, product or thought.  Rather than just memorizing new information, we are asking students to think, question and form their own ideas and opinions about what they are learning.

To launch this school-wide focus, we embarked on a school-wide project called Sexsmith’s Most Magnificent Thing.  Students learned about the project at our first school-wide assembly (Monday).  My staff had discussed the importance of developing a common language for critical thinking, so I came up with a visual and key words to use to explain the three phases of critical thinking – ANALYZE-QUESTION-DEVELOP.  I introduced these three words, along with a prompt word for each:  when we analyze – our brain says “Hmmmm“; when we question, our brain says “Huuhhh?“; when we develop, our brain says “Ah-Ha!”  

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I then shared the book The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  This book has many different themes, including perseverance and ways of dealing with frustration, but it was also a perfect fit for introducing critical thinking.  In the story, the girl does not practice critical thinking skills initially while trying to make her most magnificent thing, which results in a lot of frustration and an eventual melt-down.  It is only at the end of the story, she begins to analyze her attempts and re-designs her plan that the magnificent thing is finally complete.  For the school assembly, I projected the YouTube read aloud. of this book on a large screen.

In thinking about this as a school project, I had nightmares of the entire school bringing in metal pieces, wheels, batteries, and wires, creating electronic chaos like the girl in this book does!   Inspired by the book What To Do With a Box by Jane Yolen, I simplified the project by having students use empty boxes to build their MMTs – Most Magnificent Things.

Students were asked to bring an empty box from home.  It was amazing to see the variety – from gigantic empty refrigerator boxes to tiny match boxes! img_1274

 

The next day, I met with grade groups to share Jane Yolen’s book and explain the project in more detail.  I reminded the students that this project was an opportunity for them to practice critical thinking and that the product at the end was not as important as the process.  They were also told that their teachers would be supplying the basic supplies of scissors, glue, paint and paper, but that if they needed any other materials that they would need to bring them from home.

Back in their classes, students began the project by analyzing their own empty box – carefully looking at size, shape and special features.

They drew, labelled and colored a careful diagram of their box.

The next day, the students questioned what they were going to make, what materials they might need and what potential problems they may run into. They developed a plan for their project and then they were ready to set to work!

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For those who were still trying to decide what to turn their box into, there were more books to read for inspiration:

       Not a Box – Antoinette Portis

                                                                         Box – Min Flyte

The Nowhere Box – Sam Zuppardi

During the week, students spent many hours transforming their box into something magnificent!  They were encouraged to practice their critical thinking skills during the process.  If something wasn’t working they tried to analyze, question and develop a new plan.  The school was buzzing with excitement and thinking!

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During the project, we circulated several other books that teachers could share which focused on characters who demonstrated critical thinking:

Anything is Possible – Giulia Belloni

Learning to Fly – Sebastian Meschenmoser

 Clancy & Millie and the Very Fine House – Libby Gleeson

Spare Dog Parts – Alison Hughes

Stuck – Oliver Jeffers

More-igami – Dori Kleber

After four days of cutting, gluing, painting, bending, folding, attaching, taping, taping and more taping, along with a whole lot of analyzing, questioning and developing new plans – the MMT projects were FINISHED!   The students completed a self-reflection page and did a final drawing of their MMT.  To celebrate this MAGNIFICENT project, we had an afternoon ‘walk about’ where students and teachers were given an opportunity to walk through other classes to view all of the ‘Magnificent Things’!   WOW!  It was incredible to see how many different creations the students came up with – jet packs, miniature rooms, soccer games, castles, maps, musical instruments, telephones, puppet shows, and even a vending machine that actually worked!   And while we all agreed there were some moments in the classrooms when creativity looked like more like chaos and a few teachers experienced most magnificent headaches, the students loved every minute of it and were thoroughly engaged.   Throughout the week, they really demonstrated all the aspects of independent, project-based learning and critical thinking skills, while having a most magnificent time!   Here are just a few examples of the creative ways students turned their boxes into something magnificent!

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 It truly was a most magnificent project!  I highly recommend you try it with your class or your school!

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Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

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Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

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7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada, Content links, Links to content, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Read-Aloud, Science, Top 10 Tuesday