Posts filed under ‘Male authors’

151. The Ant Bully by John Nickle

Retell:  Lucas constantly gets picked on by the neighborhood bully. He takes out his frustration on the ants in front of his house. The ants decide to take revenge and teach Lucas a lesson.

Topics:  bullying, revenge, ants

Units of Study:  Fantasy

Tribes:  mutual respect

Reading Skills:  analyzing character motivation, interpretation

Writing Skills:  experimenting with sentence structure

Thoughts:  Apparently this story was made into an animated movie back in 2006.  I guess I’ve been out of the loop.

This is a great read aloud for teaching about karma, the Golden Rule and the basic concept of treating others (even non-humans) with respect.  It’s also a great mentor text for students writing fantasy stories.  The structure is short and simple enough to mirror the fantasy stories that upper grade students may be writing.  It’s also great for demonstrating how stories can be structured around teaching the reader a lesson.

Unfortunately, it looks like this book is out of print.  Definitely worth a trip to your local library.

August 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

149. Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

Retell:  The subtitle says it all:  “Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka.”

Topics: boys, brothers, growing up, catholic school, rough-housing, adventure, reading, family

Units of Study:  Memoir, Personal Narrative, Nonfiction

Tribes:  Mutual Respect, Appreciations/No Put-Downs

Habits of Mind:  Finding Humor

Reading Skills:  Understanding figurative language and humor

Writing Skills:  Balancing dialogue with description and inner thinking, including prologues

Thoughts:  This is a must-read for any teacher who plans on doing a Personal Narrative or Memoir unit.  Most stories are short (1-3 pages), hilarious and at times disgusting.  I personally love the story entitled, “Car Trip,” a story about brothers in the back of a car reacting to a cat puking.  Many of the stories end with a reflection making them ideal mentor texts if you’re teaching Memoir. One story, “Random Reading” may be useful during a Nonfiction unit.  In this story he talks about enjoying the diagrams found within the pages of the Golden Book Encyclopedia series.   Jon Scieszka writes particularly with boy readers and writers in mind.  If you haven’t already, check out his website called Guys Read.

August 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

145. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Retell: A boy visits the home of the Once-ler who, for a fee, tells him the story of how he destroyed the pristine Truffula Forest and its inhabitants.

Topics: trees, deforestation, environment, environmentalists, pollution, consumption, greed, factories, habitat, animals, Earth Day

Units of Study: Social Issues, Content Area, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: Mutual Respect

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating rhyme and rhythm, connecting the beginning with its ending

My Thoughts: I recently read this book to my class to celebrate Earth Day.  There were misty eyes when the last truffula tree was cut down; I have never heard the room so quiet.  Upon rereading I noticed how well the illustrations supported inferential thinking throughout the story.  Specifically, the color of the illustrations helps support the idea that without trees the world is a dark, miserable place.  In the beginning of the story, the pages are illustrated in dark tones:  navy, burgundy, and gray.  When the Once-ler flashes back to the first days of his Thneed venture, the illustrations are painted in bright, cheerful hues:  magenta, yellow, green and turquoise.  One student pointed out toward the beginning of the story, while the illustrations were still bright and cheery, the Once-ler’s materials were painted in dark tones, a premonition that the environment was going to change for the worse.

May 3, 2010 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

142. Heroes of the Revolution by David A. Adler

Retell: Heroes of the Revolution presents the stories of 12 people who risked their lives for American independence.

Topics: heroes, spies, bravery, independence, war, revolution, Ethan Allen, Crispus Attucks, Lydia Darragh, Nathan Hale, Molly Pitcher, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, Haym Salomon, Deborah Sampson, George Washington

Units: Content Area, Nonfiction

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: interpretation, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: What makes this a great read aloud is that the stories of each hero are quite short.  They make both great read aloud and shared reading texts.  Adler attempts to include stories from people other than just the white male heroes.  Throughout the book you not only learn about what made each person important but each story tells the origin of famous quotes associated with the Revolution.  You will hear the origin of such famous quotes as: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” “Times that try men’s souls,” “I have not yet begun to fight!”

January 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

134. Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places by Joseph Bruchac

Retell: On the way to a pow-wow Old Bear teaches his nephew Little Turtle about the legends connected to the sacred places of other Native American tribes.

Topics: legends, Native Americans, sacred places, Wampanoag, Seneca, Niagara Falls, Navajo, Cherokee, Papago, Hopewell, Cheyenne, Hopi, Abenaki, Walapai, Grand Canyon

Units of Study: Content-Area, Nonfiction, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation

My Thoughts: This is a great read aloud for integrating map skills.  Using the clues in each legend, students could try and figure out which place is being described.  A copy of the map in the back of the book could be distributed to students during the read aloud and partners could work together to locate each sacred place on the map.

November 22, 2009 at 9:21 am Leave a comment

128. Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

giving thanksRetell: An English and pictorial translation of a Mohawk message of thanksgiving.

Topics: Mother Earth, appreciation, peace, Iroquois, nature, thanksgiving

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, interpretation

My Thoughts: This book is a wonderful November read aloud.  I like reading this book before students head off for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Since this message comes from the Mohawk, it compliments the 4th grade unit on Native Americans of New York State.  Before reading this you may want to ask students to jot down what they are thankful for.  While reading the book they can pay attention to what the Mohawks are thankful for as shown in the address.  After reading, students can add to their lists and discuss what they learned about the Mohawk people.

November 8, 2009 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

126. Strong to the Hoop by John Coy

strong to the hoopRetell: James has always wanted to play basketball on the main court.  Knowing that he’s too young and too small, he practices on the side court.  One day a player gets injured and he volunteers to play.  Though he misses shots and fouls other players, he gains his courage and ends up winning the game.

Topics: basketball, courage, playground, body image, boys

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Personal Narrative

Tribes: personal best, appreciations/no put-downs

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: incorporating similes, alliteration, using commas to list action, balancing internal thinking, action and dialogue

My Thoughts: This book was hiding on my read aloud shelf in my classroom.  I forgot all about it and now I’m kicking myself for not reading it to my class during our recent Realistic Fiction unit.  This is a fantastic small moment mentor text.  The events of the story are few:  a boy practices, enters a game, struggles, and wins.  However through a balance of internal thinking, small action and dialogue, the author creates a suspenseful, meaningful story.

November 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

120. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

where the wild things areRetell: After Max is sent to bed without supper he imagines traveling to a world where he becomes king of the wild things.  Being a wild things is fun for awhile but he learns that it cannot compare to the comforts of home.

Topics: monsters, mischief, disobedience, imagination, travel, dreams, home

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About texts

Habits of Mind: creating-innovating-imagining

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, crafting endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I dressed up as a wild thing for our recent school Halloween parade.  I looked more like a hairy viking than a wild thing, but I get points for trying.  To introduce my costume I read this book aloud.  Many of them had heard it before.  I’m glad I was able to tuck in this classic read aloud before the majority of my students head to the cinema to see the movie.  Upon rereading it, I realized that one has to do a huge amount of envisionment as they read the text.  The illustrations are wonderful, but they don’t reveal all.  When reading this book aloud I recommend using the pages where there is no text to have your students (or your own children) role play and act like Max or the wild things.  You can encourage them to make noise like them, talk like them, move like them and think like them.

November 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

119. Full Count: A Baseball Number Book by Brad Herzog

full countRetell: A numerical version of his alphabet book H is for Home Run.

Topics: baseball, numbers, Hall of Fame, Women’s League, tee ball, bat boys, Yogi Berra, Joe Nuxhall, Jackie Robinson, Little League, multiplication

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content Area

Writing Skills: incorporating rhyme and rhythm

My Thoughts: I now have yet another genre to think about when we get to the Content-Area unit:  Number Books.  This is one number book that fourth graders will find to be quite interesting.  Full Count follows the same format as its alphabet companion book–a rhyming poem accompanies a more detailed expository explanation of the content behind the rhyme.  This book has an added bonus of having illustrations that can support a unit on multiplication.  The illustration for 25, shows five groups of five baseball bats.  The illustration for 50, shows 10 groups of five jerseys.  If you use the TERC math curriculum you may want to use this book for the Ten-Minute Math activity, Quick Images.

October 26, 2009 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

116. “Could Be Worse!” by James Stevenson

could be worseRetell: Day in, day out Grandpa always says the same thing:  “Could be worse.”  One day Grandpa tells his grandchildren about a wacky adventure he had the night before.  At the end of the rambling story his grandchildren surprise him by delivering his favorite phrase.

Topics: imagination, grandparents, family

Units of Study: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

Habits of Mind: Creating-imagining-innovating

Writing Skills: storytelling

My Thoughts: This month our TC staff developer (Colleen Cruz) will be working with the upper grades on planning interactive read alouds.  She reiterated that interactive read aloud is THE most important part of the school day and should never be cut out.  She also mentioned that teachers should try and tuck in different kinds of read alouds throughout the day whenever possible.  This has inspired me to find quick, fun texts that I can read during transitions or during times when kids are riled up. 

“Could Be Worse!” is a cute, short read aloud that can be used to connect to the storytelling work that students are doing during Writing.  I think I’m going to read this next week as students get in line.  The next day, I could work in fluency practice by having students say the grandkids’ line while I say Grandpa’s lines and on the next day vice versa.

October 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

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