Thursday, April 26, 2012

You're Only Old Once!

The children's book You're Only Old Once!, by Dr. Seuss, gives a comical view about going to the doctor's office.  This story follows an old man that starts his journey in the waiting room as he reads a National Geographic. Once he gets called back to see the doctor, he finds himself being tested form many things.  At one point he is given both an eyesight and solvency test.  The further the book goes, the more stressed out the character gets.  Every time that he gets called back, they run another test.  There is one part that says "When at last we are sure you've been properly pilled, then a few paper forms must be properly filled so that you and your heirs may be properly billed (pg. 35)."  You will have to read the rest of the story to find out what happens to the poor old man. 

This is just another great children's book that is written by Dr. Seuss.  This book is meant for the older students.  At the Vale Elementary library, it is listed at a fifth grade reading level.  I could use this book as something that would be in my classroom library.  The fact that  it includes the funny looking machines, and a slight fear of the unknown of a doctor's office, will really give the students something to relate to.  Every machine that is listed is made up, and all of the characters names goes with whatever their job is.  This will keep the students really entertained.  I found myself laughing out loud while reading this, so I know that many students will do the same.  I highly recommend this story!

Maniac Magee

The chapter book Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli, follows the life of a boy that has been through numerous hardships during his life.  After the tragic death of his parents, Jeffrey Magee is left an orphan at the age of three.  He is then moved to a town that is very divided between the black East Enders from white West Enders.  This is where he meets Amanda Beale.  He borrows a book from her.  While he is there, he does some very outrageous things, and it earns him the nickname "Maniac." After a series of mishaps, he is then bounced from home to home.  Find out what happens when a great boy struggles through life as an orphan. 

This is an incredible story that a teacher should have in their classroom.  This story is about a boy who struggles with finding his identity.  One of the biggest theme in the story is about race.  The entire town is very racially divided.  This could really give students a first look at what some of the key issues are with racial differences.  The story really has a great way of incorporating literature.  The main character is able to find an escape while he reads his stories.  There are also several other situations that use reading.  There is even one point in the story where he teaches another person how to read.  There are several things in this story that children can relate to.  Some will relate to the part where the female character saves Jeffrey, or just the fact that it is about finding their individual identities.  Many of the students will love reading this story.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Amazing Snakes!

In the story Amazing Snakes!, by Sarah L. Thomson, talks about snakes.  This book gives a lot of information about a ton of different types of snakes. There are several fun facts that go with great pictures of the snakes.  Some of the facts include: snakes can sleep all winter, they can grow as long as a school bus, they swallow their food whole, and many others.  People will have to read this story to find out more.

What I liked most about this story is all of the great pictures that it had.  I really hate snakes, but the pictures were fun to look at.  I read this story with my reading buddy, and he really liked it.  He really enjoys learning things about different animals, so this gave him the chance to learn something new.  This would be a really good book to have in the classroom library.  If the students are learning about snakes, it will give them something to refer back to.  In my classroom, most of the students that read this story were the boys, but there is something in the story for everyone to enjoy.


File:Rulesnovel.jpgIn the story Rules, by Cynthia Lord, follows a girl on a quest to find out what is really considered normal.  The story is about a girl named Catherine who has a brother has who has Autism.  She always wished that her brother was more "normal" so she doesn't have to remind him to do things like keeping his pants on in public.  She decides to make a list of rules that her brother must follow.  During the summer, she meets a boy named Jason.  Jason is paraplegic.  As she gets to know him, she really starts to wonder about the true meaning of being normal.  Find out what happens in an incredible book. 

I highly recommend this story to be in classrooms.  The reading level is listed at a fourth grade level, but I would almost put it at a high level because I am not sure if students that age are ready for the content.  This story is relatable on many different levels.  Autism is a common trend in elementary classrooms, and this story sheds light on the disabilities.  This story has the purpose of telling kids that there is no such thing as being "normal."  Every student is different, and so everyone should be treated with respect.  The students that read this book will need to be more mature in order to get the message that is in the text.  It really forces the students to think about how they look at others, and the students should at least be given the opportunity to read this.  I think everyone should read this story!

Th Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

In the chapter book The Mostly True Adventure of Homer P. Figg, by Rodman Philbrick, follows a young boy during the Civil War.  The story is about Homer P. Figg.  Homer is an orphan that follows his brother.  Homer's brother was illegally sold to the Union army, and so he wants to find him.  On his journey, he comes across a wide variety of people that have a large impact on his life.  Some of these people include: Slave Snatchers, a traveling medicine show, and several other people.  All of the events lead him to Gettysburg.  Find out what happens when Homer P. Figg is on the journey of a lifetime. 

This book is a great example of a book that is considered historical fiction.  It will give students an idea about what life was like during the Civil War.  A teacher could either have this story in their classroom as a read aloud, or just to have in the classroom if you are teaching anything on the Civil War.  The plot line moves very quickly, and the students will be hooked on it from the start.  Something that students will really find interesting is the fact that the story follows an orphan that will stop at nothing to be joined with the only family that he really has left.  It sends the message that students should never give up regardless of the struggles that happen.  I really enjoyed this story!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Out of the Dust

The story Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, describes the life of a young girl.  In this story, it follows a young girl named Billie Jo.  Billie Jo's family is really struggling in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression.  During this time, her family is already having a hard time when tragedy strikes.  After a big accident, her mother dies.  This leaves Billie Jo with even more responsibilities.  Find out what happens in this amazing story. 

This is a great book that would be great to have in any classroom library.  It is a great example of free verse poetry, and it also has a good storyline to go with it.  It includes many historical aspects that would give the students a great idea about what things were like back then.  I found it to be a quick read because of the way it is formatted.  I just couldn't stop reading it, because I was getting more insight on what it was like during the Dust Bowl.  There are several aspects that both boys and girls can relate to.  The story is listed at a 5th grade reading level, but it could be used for older grades as well.  I really recommend this story.

Julie of the Wolves

In the story Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, describes the journey of a young girl.  After the death of her mother, Miyax her father was raising her as a traditional Inuit.  When she turned nine, she was taken away by her aunt, and was enrolled in an American school.  At this school, she was around Americanized Eskimos who would only call her Julie.  Once she is older, she finally deiced to escape.  She decided to leave for San Francisco to meet her pen pal.  On her journey, she got lost in the Alaskan tundra.  She is then forced to use the skill her father taught her, and this is when she befriends a pack of wolves. 

This is a great story to have in the classroom for the older grades.  It shows the class an outlook at a different culture than their own.  The story is amazing because it really is a story about the survival of a person.  There is also the theme of overcoming adversity.  The author is great at describing the scenarios to the point that it feels like you are there with them.  This is a book that the students could read either on their own, or it could also be as a reading group book.  It is a story that could be liked by both boys and girls.  The girls can relate to the female aspects, while the boys might like the adventure that the girl is on.  This book includes many different things that students might be able to relate to.  I highly recommend this story!

The Twits

In the story The Twits, by Roald Dahl, it describes the life of the two meanest people on the planet.  The book is about Mr. and Mrs. Twit.  During the story, they are absolutely horrible to each other.  For the first chapter, they spend the entire time pranking one another.  At one point, Mr. Twit shaves off pieces of Mrs. Twit's walking cane to make her think that she was shrinking.  This continues throughout the chapter.  In a separate chapter, they make really like to eat bird pie.  To catch the birds, they cover their tree with glue, so  that when the birds landed on the tree, they were stuck.  Each chapter has many similar events, and the chapters get better as the story goes on.

This story would be a great book to have in the classroom.  It can either be used as a read aloud or just to have for the students to read independently.  The book really includes humor and great description.  The way the the author is able describe the characters makes it extremely easy to get a picture in your mind about what the characters look like.  I read this story with my reading buddy, and he really enjoyed it.  The story even has a great moral to it.  The book is all about being nice to others, and if your aren't bad things could happen.  The reading level is listed as a  5th grade, but students ofmany different grades have read it.  This is one of those stories that when you start reading it, you don't want to stop. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

In the story The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis, follows a group of friends that are on an adventure of a lifetime. Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace are brought into Narnia through a painting on a wall.  They land in the middle of the ocean, where they are taken aboard the ship, the Dawn Treader.  On the ship is Prince Caspian, a character from the previous book.  Prince Caspian is out to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia.  Withh each island that they stop at, they find another clue about what happened to the Lords of Narnia.  Find out what happens when the adventure continues. 

I had read the first couple of books of this series, but never read this story until after I watched the movie.  I decided that I wanted to find out how this book was.  It was great! This book was a great story that should be read in just about every single classroom.  It is the perfect balance between action, adventure, and imagination that students need to hear.  This book could be used as either a read aloud, or the students could read it on their own.  If a teacher has this book in the classroom, they will need to have the others as well.  Once you start reading them, you won't want to put them down.

Bud, Not Buddy

In the story Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, it follows a boy's quest to find his father during the Great Depression.  In the story, Bud Caldwell lost his mother.  All that he is left with is  bag of rocks and a photograph of his mom as a child and fliers that show Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band.  After escaping a bad foster home situation, Bud decides that he will look for Herman E. Calloway.  He believes that this man is his father.  On this journey, he meets many new people, and it turns into an adventure of a lifetime. 

This would be a great book to read in the classroom.  The book can be placed in a classroom library for students to read, or the teacher could read it out loud.  It talks about a young boy's determination and drive to find his father.  There is really a good message behind this story that students might be able to relate to.  It also helps that the main character is ten years-old.  I highly recommend this story for any classroom!