Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site Newsletter

Volume 23. Issue 2.


Teachers Guides and Books with Black Characters

Free discussion starters and activities for three wonderful books, homeschool enthusiasm article, and booklist featuring black characters and issues


The leaves are turning here in the Northeast US, the apples are ripening. What we call Fall, and what everyone else calls Autumn, is in full swing. It's an especially good time of year to be a New Englander. There is the fragrance of cider simmering and fresh split wood. I (Rebecca) am always so grateful for the cooler air and the gorgeous trees.

In this newsletter we have an article contributed by Time4Learning about homeschooling and how to maintain, or regain, enthusiasm. We also have an annotated list of books featuring Black American characters and issues. And lastly, for the main event, we have three free teachers guides: a picture book for Preschool through 3rd grade, a picture book biography for 3rd grade through 7th grade, and a chapter book for 2nd through 5th grade.

November is right around the corner. There are a couple of articles that my mother (Carol Hurst) and I wrote years ago, about The Times of The Pilgrims through Kids' Books and Native Americans through Kids' Books. I haven't had a chance to update them lately, but they are still full of some great ideas and books for classroom lesson plans.


5 Ways to Keep Your Homeschool Enthusiasm Going

Even the most veteran homeschoolers experience burnout some time during the homeschool year. The constant pressure that many homeschooling parents put on themselves can make the days feel like a daily grind.

Homeschooling is a tough job that not only brings joy, but also trying times. As the adage states, nothing worthwhile comes easy. Your enthusiasm will wane at times, but this is natural.

This isn’t the time to give up though. There are ways you can take charge to avoid burnout and get the whole family back on track. Use these tips to keep the atmosphere in your house exciting and inspiring for everyone, including you! Read the rest of the article.

Free Teachers Guide for Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut

cover art

Grades PreK - 3
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes. Illustrated by Gordon C. James. Picture Book. 32 pages.
Find this book: Amazon

Here is a vivid, rich and textured celebration of self-worth. As a black boy goes to get a hair cut, the text and illustrations work wonderfully together to immerse us in the barbershop experience. You can feel and hear and smell the shop. Each page is filled to overflowing with the beautiful heads of black American men (and one woman) with a wide range of hairstyles. The boy narrates, describing how he feels going in and how confident he knows he'll feel coming out. Read More in our Featured Book Teachers Guide with discussion questions, extension activities, related books and links.

Free Teachers Guide for Wolfie and Fly

cover art

Grades 2 - 5
Wolfie and Fly by Cary Fagan. Illustrated by Zoe Si. Chapter Book. 96 pages.
Find this book: Amazon

Renata Wolfman is an introvert, she likes being her own friend, and is filled with curiosity. Her parents particularly want her to play with the nice boy next door, but she refuses. One day she makes a submarine out of a refrigerator box. Much to her chagrin, she is interrupted by the boy next door, Fly. He is very insistent that she let him in because he lost his brother's new baseball and is trying to escape retribution. Fly helps Wolfie make enhancements to the submarine and convinces her to pretend they're steering it through the ocean. Pretending is something Wolfie says she never does, "I don't even know how. It's for kids," she says. "We are kids," is Fly's reply. Read More in our Featured Book Teachers Guide with discussion questions, extension activities, related books and links.

Free Teachers Guide to Silent Days, Silent Dreams

cover art

Grades 3 - 7
Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say. Picture Book Biography. 64 pages.
Find this book: Amazon

This picture book is a fictionalized biography of James Castle, the self-taught, deaf, and likely-autistic artist. The author fills in a lot of the unknowns of the artist's childhood by imagining how it might have been. The illustrations are in the style of the artist, and I found them deeply moving and evocative of the isolation that Castle must have felt. Read More in our Featured Book Teachers Guide with discussion questions, extension activities, related books and links.

Annotated List of Books Featuring Black Americans

Here are some of our favorite books for the classroom for preschool through ninth grade, which feature black Americans. There are picture books, nonfiction, and novels. Go to annotated booklist.

cover is an award-winning, comprehensive curriculum for PreK-12th that makes learning effective and engaging through animated lessons and activities. You will have access to the core subjects, math, language arts, science, social studies and more! The online program teaches and grades lessons, tracks and records progress, and keeps reports to help simplify homeschool portfolios.

For over a decade, Time4Learning has helped more than 500,000 homeschooling families with its flexible and engaging curriculum, homeschool resources, and more. Our team of homeschool moms, homeschool dads, and support staff have come together to create helpful homeschool insights on subjects such as family, education, fun, and more!

Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site

  • Here's a list of all our Free Teachers Guides
  • This is a listing of subjects that have their own page on our site. Some of them are annotated booklists. Most of them are Featured Subjects, which have recommended books as well as discussion and activity ideas. Subjects Listing.
  • For anything else you're looking for check out our Search Page.


That's it for this issue.

Happy reading!

- Rebecca Otis

You can read back issues of this newsletter in our archives at: