Posts tagged ‘community’

125. Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine

under the lemon moonRetell: One evening Rosalinda awakes to find a man stealing lemons from her lemon tree.  During the theft, a branch is broken and the tree becomes sick.  Rosalinda searches her village for a cure.  A mysterious woman helps her cure her sick tree and help a family in need.

Topics: theft, family, community, trees, kindness

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: empathy, interpretation, inference, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using words to describe sound, using interesting verbs, incorporating foreign languages

My Thoughts: This is a text that can be useful for many units and for many purposes.  As I was reading this text I immediately noticed the beautiful verbs the author uses.  A reader who is unfamiliar with the vocabulary in the text can easily figure out the meaning of the words by thinking about the context.  It’s a great text for teaching the strategy of playing ‘fill in the bank’ when solving tricky words.

November 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

71. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

the bee treeRetell: When Mary Ellen becomes bored of reading her grampa takes her on a hunt for a bee tree.  People from the community join them as they run through the Michigan countryside chasing bees.  By the end of the bee tree chase Mary Ellen learns that there are many similarities between chasing knowledge through the pages of a book and chasing bees.

Topics: reading, outdoors, adventure, grandparents, community, knowledge

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Personal Narrative, Authoring an Independent Reading Life

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, interpretation

My Thoughts: I like reading this book at the beginning of the year when we author our own independent reading lives.  I think this year I want to keep referring back to the book when we have particularly juicy conversations.  When students ask interesting, provocative questions I could refer to them as ‘honey questions’.  I need to make a banner with Grampa’s words:  “[Adventure, knowledge and wisdom] do not come easily.  You have to pursue them.  Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things through the pages of a book!”

September 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

60. In My Momma’s Kitchen by Jerdine Nolen

in my momma's kitchenRetell: This is a heartwarming collection of small moments that all take place in a family’s kitchen:  a daughter receives a music scholarship, children make up stories, women chitchat and a father makes his signature dish.

Topics: family, community, childhood

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments

My Thoughts: This is a great text to read at different points of the year.  I originally purchased this book thinking it would be a good read aloud for the Personal Narrative unit.  After reading it a second time, I realize that it’s also a great mentor text for the Memoir unit.  Each story is connected by its setting–the kitchen.  Using this text students could try out Nolen’s strategy of thinking of an important place (a room, a park) and write memories associated with that place.  Since this book reads like an anthology of notebook entries, you could use this text when introducing the writer’s notebook.

August 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

40. Rent Party Jazz by William Miller

rent party jazzRetell: Sonny is worried.  His mom just lost her job at the fish market and is worried that they may not make rent.  Sonny meets the musician Smilin’ Jack who comes up with a solution that turns out to be both profitable and entertaining.

Topics: New Orleans, rent, money, jazz, parties, music, community

Units of Study: Social Issues, Historical Fiction

Tribes: personal best, attentive listening

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: using commas to tuck in details

My Thoughts: Great books teach us something new.  Rent Party Jazz not only tells a story of Sonny and his family, but tells the story of the origin of rent parties throughout African-American communities in the South.  The book will be great to read when your class needs to be reminded of the power a strong, supportive community.  Even something as bleak as not being able to pay rent can be conquered when people work together.

August 5, 2009 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

28. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter

the librarian of basraRetell: This is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker.  During U.S. air raids in 2003, Baker managed to hide and save over 30,000 books from destruction.

Topics: libraries, Iraq, heroism, action, war, books, community

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Journalism

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: prediction, questioning

Writing Skills: using dashes

My Thoughts: Stories like this one restores my faith in humanity.  Alia Muhammad Baker’s story is a great one to share with kids, many whom don’t even know that the U.S. is involved in two wars at the moment.  Her story was originally published back in 2003 in the The New York Times.  Reading The Librarian of Basra in conjunction with the The New York Times article could be a great way to emphasize the role of a journalist to bring to light stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.  I plan on reading this at the beginning of the year to reiterate the importance of reading. 

Click her to read Shaila K. Dewan’s 2003 New York Times article about Alia Muhammad Baker

July 24, 2009 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

20. Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler

kindness is cooler mrs. rulerRetell: Mrs. Cooler’s class is getting antsy and cranky.  She asks a few misbehaving students to do 10 acts of kindness at home.  The next day during show and tell, others are inspired to do random acts of kindness.  Eventually the project includes acts of kindness at school and throughout the community.

Topics: kindness, school, community, helping, volunteering, 100th day of school

Units of Study: Character, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: appreciations/no putdowns, mutual respect, community building, personal best

Writing Skills: using rhyme and rhythm

My Thoughts: I think I just found my 100th day of school read aloud.  The 100th day of school always creeps up on me and I end up doing a last minute project.  This year, I think I’ll use Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler to launch a Random Acts of Kindness Campaign.  In the book Mrs. Ruler’s class tries to do 100 kind acts at home, school, or in the community.  She puts each act on a paper heart and they have a celebration when they reach 100.  Since the 100th day of school usually falls close to Valentine’s Day, a Kindness Campaign could be a good way to turn a commercialized holiday into one that promotes a good cause.  Thanks Ms. Cuyler.

July 16, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

19. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

those shoesRetell: It seems like everyone in school has a pair of black high tops with white stripes–everyone but Jeremy.  Jeremy’s grandmother only has enough money for a pair of boots.  When they spot a pair of “those shoes” at a thrift shop, Jeremy buys them with his own money, only to find out that they’re too small.  He is then faced with a difficult decision–does he keep his blister-causing shoes or give them to a friend.

Topics: shoes, needs and wants, fads, money, grandparents, decisions, friendship, generosity

Units of Study: Character,  Talking and Writing About Texts, Literary Essay, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, community building

Reading Skills: inference, prediction, making connections

Writing Skills: using dashes, transitional phrases, incorporating a balance of dialogue and summary

My Thoughts: My fabulous student teacher introduced this book to me last year.  Every year it seems there is some sort of expensive fad:  Tech decks, sidekicks, iphones, sneakers, smencils.  My heart breaks when I think about the students who are being teased just because they don’t have the latest fad.  Those Shoes is a book to address this issue.  It is an ideal book to read aloud to discuss the differences between need and want.  I can see reading this book aloud during a Social Issues unit.  I could also see using this as a text to analyze during a literary essay unit.

July 15, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

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