Posts tagged ‘nonfiction’

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

132. The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George

the first thanksgivingRetell: The story of the first Thanksgiving which addresses some former misconceptions.

Topics: Thanksgiving, Cape Cod, Plymouth Rock, Pawtuxets, slavery, Squanto, Puritans, Mayflower, survival, death, cooperation, farming

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Social Issues

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: When I was a kid, I learned about how the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.  They toiled through the winter and many people died.  I learned how Squanto helped the Pilgrims plant corn, beans and squash and as a gesture of peace, the Native Americans and the Pilgrims sat together to celebrate the harvest.  What I didn’t learn until I read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen is how Squanto came to learn English–he had been a slave in London.  Several years before the Pilgrims arrival, Squanto had been tricked onto a boat headed for Spain.  He was purchased by a merchant ship owner from London.  Squanto eventually sailed back to the village that he had been stolen from only to find that his entire village had died from smallpox!

This book attempts to tell the story of the first Thanksgiving without glossing over the contributions of the Wampanoag and of Squanto.  I plan on reading this during the few days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I also think I want to reread it during our Social Issues unit.

November 15, 2009 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

131. Apple Country by Denise Willi

apple countryRetell: A look into the history of apple-growing in the United States.

Topics: apples, orchards, colonists, Johnny Appleseed, farmers, packing plants, processing plants

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Journalism

Reading Skills: determining importance, synthesis, monitoring for sense

My Thoughts: This is a great book for teaching students how to effectively read and synthesize text features.  There are many text features within the book:  a flowchart, an interview, a table, a map, illustrations with captions, etc.  It’s a particularly nice read aloud for New York 4th graders because it ties in natural resources of New York State and Colonial history.

November 11, 2009 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

130. Planet Earth/Inside Out by Gail Gibbons

planet earth_inside outRetell: Gail Gibbons imagines what we would see if we looked inside the earth.

Topics: earth, gravity, ocean, Pangaea, equator, continents, earth model, fossils, plates, earthquakes, volcanoes, islands

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: We are wrapping up our Science unit on Earth Movements this Friday and I was looking for a text to end with.  This book ties in a lot of subjects within this unit:  the earth model, Pangaea, plate tectonics, faults, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.  The illustrations, which contain clear and useful diagrams, help readers comprehend the text.  However, in some parts, readers most add to the illustrations with details from their own mental picture and think about what is not in the illustrations.

November 9, 2009 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

123. Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the City by Barbara Bush

urban roostsRetell: Barbara Bush zooms in on gothic building structures, bridge towers and overpasses to describe the adaptations of birds who thrive in urban areas.

Topics: birds, pigeons, urban areas, cities, habitats, migration, camouflage, adaptation, roosts, crows, shelter

Units of Study: Content-Area, Nonfiction

Reading Skills: envisionment, questioning, determining importance, synthesis

My Thoughts: I’m currently looking for books that will support the current Nonfiction unit.  I considered reading this book immediately, but I think I’m going to save it for our Content-Area unit.  During that unit we’ll be studying Food Chains and Habitats in Science making this book a perfect fit.  Urban Roosts is a book that will encourage urban readers to reconsider the common pigeon, finch or crow–a great book for modeling envisionment in nonfiction.

November 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

122. Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen

welcome to the green houseRetell: Jane Yolen poetically compares the rainforest to a green house.

Topics: rainforest, animals, birds, nonfiction poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area, Personal Essay

Habits of Mind: gathering data through all senses

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, incorporating rhythm and rhyme, using sparkling vocabulary, using alliteration

My Thoughts: A few months ago I received a GrowLab through a DonorsChoose grant.  We received support from an educator at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and created corsage box terrariums.  Students planted cuttings from three different plants that thrive in the rainforest.  I plan on reading this book soon to support our gardening experience.  The text in this book is so vivid that as I read it I can actually feel the humidity of the rainforest.  It’s a great text for teaching students how to interpret metaphors.  At the end of the book, the author writes a message to her readers encouraging us to find out more about saving the rapidly disappearing rainforest.  Though it’s not technically a personal essay, you could use sections of the message as a mentor text.

November 2, 2009 at 8:55 pm Leave a comment

121. Vote! by Eileen Christelow

voteRetell: This book combines narrative and non-narrative text to describe how and why people vote.

Topics: voting, majority, mayors, elections, democracy, voting age, protests, marches, political parties, media, campaigns, taxes

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, determining importance, synthesis, making connections

My Thoughts: Tomorrow is election day.  My students have the day off and they have no idea why.  Unlike last year’s election day, the buzz around tomorrow’s election is quiet.  Nevertheless, days off from school can be good teaching moments and a great time to tuck in a read aloud.  Vote provides a nice, kid-friendly introduction to the world of voting.  The text in the white space explains how voting works.  Within the illustrations, speech and thought bubbles support a narrative thread:  Chris Smith is running against Bill Brown for mayor and Smith’s family (including the family dog) all participate in the campaign.  You may choose to read all of the non-narrative text and then pick and choose which speech bubbles are the most important to highlight.

If you choose to read this book (or others about voting) please add your comments in the space below.

November 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

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