Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gifts of New Read Alouds for the Media Center's Professional Book Shelf!

      As you can guess, I really enjoyed our school's annual book fair! I love discovering and reviewing brand new titles and thinking of what would make good additions to our school. Due to the generosity of Mrs. Wilson's help, we were able to secure five new hardback books that will soon be a part of the teacher's read aloud collection to support reading and writing mini-lessons. This collection is housed behind Mrs. Pauley's check out computer. I have written how these books can be used for lessons inside of the front cover, and you can get a sneak peek of those ideas below.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver Written by Susan Grigsby and illustrations by Nicole Tadgell (Albert Whitman and Company, 2010) 

     In this story, the reader is taken on a realistic account of one of the many visits that Dr. George Washington Carver made to the Alabama countryside to educate people on how to enrich their farmland's soil. In particular, Dr. Carver educates some children on how to naturally develop the nutrients in the soil at a school, and fosters an appreciation for the bounty of nature.  

     This book can be used to highlight several concepts in reading, including:
  • an example of "hybrid nonfiction" - narrative realistic fiction that also delivers factual information
  • Cause and Effect - Because Dr. Carver traveled throughout the Alabama countryside on weekends to educate people on how to enrich their soil, the effect was that many farmers were able to grow better crops on their land.
  • Problem/Solution - Problem: poor soil that resulted in poor quality crops; Solution: Dr. Carver taught people how to enrich their soil to grow better crops
  • Examples of Metaphors: comparing the soil and caring for it with medical terms doctor, patient, and an operation
  • Examples of Similes: "Quick as a hummingbird"  and "sticks to you like a little burr"
     From an interdisciplinary perspective, George Washington Carver is an important person in American History for First Grade's SOL Social Studies 1.2. Students are tested on this in the Third Grade SOL History test.

Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak Written by Kay Winters and illustrated by Larry Day  (Dutton Children's Book, 2008)
       This historical fiction story was recently recognized by the Virginia State Reading Virginia State Reading Association's Virginia Readers Choice List for 2011-2012. The story's main character is a young boy named Ethan, and the reader accompanies him through Boston in December of 1773. This text lends itself wonderfully to colonial life studies in history, as well as aspects of economics with the various professional trades that are explored in the town by Ethan. From the mini-lesson perspective in reading, this text can be used for:
  • highlighting a form of hybrid nonfiction, where historical fiction also provides an avenue for learning factual information.
  • showing an example of a story told in a free verse poetry format
  • giving examples of various points of view of a variety of characters all experiencing the same moment in history
  • showing how font is sometimes used to highlight the main idea in a page spread and how placement of text can lend emphasis
  • providing an example of historical notes and a glossary at the end as nonfiction text supports for deeper comprehension

Climbing Lincoln's Steps: The African American Journey Written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Colin Bootman (Albert Whitman and Company, 2010)
     This beautifully illustrated text captures the historical events that have occurred on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and their significance upon the history of African Americans.  This text is wonderful for tying in applicable historical studies. It can also be used to:
  • highlight how an author uses placement of text and dashes for effect in pausing and digesting the text in a thoughtful manner
  • show how the "echo" or repetition of phrases for emphasis of the main idea of the text
  • give examples of the effective use of adjectives in writing
  • show the passage of time, indicated with dates, years, and historical time frames
  • correctly sequence events
  • act as an example of cause and effect (For example: Because....happened at the Lincoln Memorial in history, the effect is....change occurred.)
  • serve as an example of a narrative nonfiction text
  • practice using inferential skills in order to use the clues and context to figure out what isn't explicitly told to the reader
  • show an example of a text which as additional information in the form of an author's note and a timeline at the conclusion of the story

Henry Aaron's Dream Written and illustrated by Matt Tavares  (Candlewick Press, 2010)
      This text from Matt Tavares shares a true story about Henry Aaron, an African American baseball player who was able to fulfill his dream of playing in the major leagues through his determination and the positive influences of the pioneering Jackie Robinson. Be sure to click on the title above to go directly to the author's home page for this text. It is a neat way to show how an author researches factual information to tell a narrative version of a person's life. You can also use this site to show how as the illustrator drafts his drawings as a means of sticking to supporting the main events of the story effectively. In addition, you can use this book to:
  • make text to text connections after reading Sharon Robinson's beautiful book on her father Jackie Robinson called Testing the Ice
  • show a real example of a character's traits of determination, perseverance, and being successful
  • read the "Author's Note" in the back to understand the author's inspiration and motivation
    (for additional interesting information on the author, check out his blog by clicking on his name here: Matt Tavares)
  • Note: There is a strong word used in the book once, so preview the story and skip reading that word aloud

Word After Word After Word  by Patricia MacLachlan (Katherine Tegen Books, 2010) 
      It's great for grades 3-4 for supporting the tone of children as authors in writing workshop. (See my previous post on Patricia MacLachlan's books for additional information. :) It's a great venue for:
  • discussing purposes for writing
  • finding your voice as a writer
  • showing a story that shares mentor texts IN THE STORY! :) (It's like MacLachlan visited one of our classes and wrote about a day in our reading and writing life in the classroom!)
Check them out and enjoy using something fresh to energize your teaching!

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