Find great books for preschool, elementary, and middle school children and teens along with ideas of ways to teach with them in the classroom across the curriculum.
For Preschool through Ninth Grade
I've just finished the conversion to the new layout for all 809 pages of the web site. The new layout makes the paragraphs of text narrower and therefore easier to read on screen. Previously on large screens the text would spread all the way across the screen making it difficult when reading to scan from the end of one sentence to the beginning of the next. This also creates a second bordering column for much needed advertising to keep the site free. Now that this is complete I can turn my attention back to adding more content.
Now, for some of that new or updated content (which matters more to you than my formatting endeavors, I'm sure). In the author studies section is an updated article on Richard Peck. His work is broad and of great quality. His latest book, Secrets at Sea came out in October 2011 and was named one of the Kirkus best books for 2011. See the article at the end of this newsletter.
Since most of Peck's books are for grades 4 and up here are some great books for the younger set that have been recently added to the site:
It Is the Wind by Ferida Wolff. Illustrated by James Ransome. (2005, Harcourt School. ISBN 9780153519499. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr PreK-2.
Lyrical text with rhyming onomatopoeia describe the thoughts of an African American boy awakened during the night by the sounds of the country. The text is accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations. Read More.
Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake. (2004, Puffin. ISBN 9780142401859. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr 1-5.
Within these 32 pages you get striking and informative illustrations, an exciting story, and hooks to math, geography, science and history. The text gives us a day by day account of a woman, Mick, and her dog team but the star of the book is the lead dog, Akiak. At ten, this will be her last chance to win. This is a wonderful story. Share it with any kids from first grade up after you've told them a bit about the Iditarod. Read More.
If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian. Illustrated by Barbara Hirsch Lember. (2000, Harcourt. ISBN 9780152393397. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr PreK-3.
In this photo essay style picture book we see children finding different kinds of rocks. These aren't classified by mineral or structure but rather by use: skipping rocks, splashing rocks, climbing rocks, resting rocks. This is an accessible meditation on interacting with one element of nature. Read More.
Richard Peck won the Newbery Award in 2001 for A Year Down Yonder. Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Peck or hearing him speak know that this white-haired, lean and graceful gentleman is witty and charming and dedicated to enlarging the lives and the aims of his readers. In his autobiography Anonymously Yours (Beech Tree, 1995 ISBN 0688137024. Order Info. Review.), he puts that dedication in this form:
"I read because one life isn't enough, and in the page of a book I can be anybody;
I read because the words that build the story become mine, to build my life;
I read not for happy endings but for new beginnings; I'm just beginning myself, and I wouldn't mind a map;
I read because I have friends who don't, and young though they are, they're beginning to run out of material;
I read because every journey begins at the library, and it's time for me to start packing;
I read because one of these days I'm going to get out of this town, and I'm going to go everywhere and meet everybody, and I want to be ready."
Richard Peck was born in 1934 in Decatur, Illinois, a town he describes as quiet and safe. His mother, Virginia, was a dietitian and his father, Wayne, was a merchant who often rode his Harley Davidson to work.
Richard was crazy about cars when he was young and took pride in the fact that he could instantly identify the make and model of each on-coming car. He went to college in Exeter, England and then served a stint in the army. He then became a junior high school teacher. He taught in Illinois and in New York City. Then his real steps into the writing profession began. Read the whole article.
That's it for this issue.
- Rebecca Otis
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