Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web was written by EB White and is considered one of the greatest children’s books of all time.

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This sweet story tells the tale of two unlikely friends, Charlotte the Spider and Wilbur the Pig, who display what true friendship is. Throughout this entire story a tremendous emphasis is placed upon friendship and self-sacrifice. This story would be an excellent read to display to students what it means to be a true friend. Charlotte’s Web is an easy read that uses great detail and paints a picture in the reader’s mind. E.B. White does an incredible job of capturing an audience of all ages!

 

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Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

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Judy Blume, in my perspective, is a genius when she writes from the child’s point of view.    She truly understands what the child is feeling in that particular moment. As for this young reader chapter book, meant for a third grade reading level, Judy Blume entertains the reader with the ups and downs of what it is like growing up with a little brother and being the example, but also being seen as a maturing child. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the being of a series of children’s chapter books that include the two main characters Peter Warren Hatcher and Farley Drexel “Fudge” Hatcher. They learn what it means about family, growing up, and brotherhood or what it means to be siblings. This goes especially for Fudge as he is looking more and more to his big brother for guidance instead of his parents. Peter on the other hand is also maturing in regards to taking ownership and responsibility for his pet turtle dribble, homework assignments, and by choosing to set the example for his brother.

Reading this book, I was thinking back to my childhood as a young girl and always being the example for my baby brother, at the time, and never wanting to do what mother asked of me, but I did it anyway to make everyone happing including myself. As a new and up in coming teacher, the knowledge of this particular book can help a student who is struggling with being a sibling in a big family or small family. It can help that child understand what it means to grow up and become responsible and reliable to not only parents and adults, like teachers, but also to younger sibling – showing what family looks like. It is not always pretty and it definitely has challenges, especially when your pet turtle gets eaten by your baby brother, but it is worth it in the end – family counts more than a replaceable turtle.

The Lemonade War

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies is the first in a series of books that tells the story of two siblings – Jessie and Evan – who are budding entrepreneurs, rivals, but ultimately, good friends.

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The story is highly engaging for students and many will want to continue reading the other four books in the series (see The Lemonade Crime, The Bell Bandit, The Candy Smash, and The Magic Trap). Teachers will enjoy this book because it introduces basic economic principles and vocabulary throughout the text. The book connects well with and supports a social studies unit on economics. It also inspires students to pursue their own business adventures.

The story takes place at the end of summer before the start of another school year. The reader is introduced to Jessie and Evan at a time when Evan is trying to avoid Jessie. These two siblings are generally good friends and enjoy one another’s company. They also make a good business partnership because Jessie is very good with numbers and Evan is good with people. However, Evan and Jessie recently found out that Jessie, who is skipping 3rd grade, will be in the same 4th grade class as Evan. This news is understandably traumatic for Evan who is afraid of looking dumb compared to his little sisters.

The rising action of the story includes Evan and Jessie’s attempts to out due one another with their competing lemonade stands. Although Jessie and Even previously worked together, they challenge each other to see who can make the most money by Labor Day. As they each pursue their economic adventures, they learn the fundamentals of good business. The climax of the story demonstrates that there is more at stake than simply winning the competition. Jessie and Evan’s relationship is at stake. In a moment of desperation and fear that the other has won the competition, both Jessie and Evan sabotage the other’s efforts. Ultimately, both learn a valuable lesson, and they are reconciled on Labor Day. The story is left unfinished because one of Evan’s friends steals his money. The second book in the series, The Lemonade Crime, takes place at school where Jessie and Evan set up court to discover who stole the lemonade money.

Although it is not explicitly stated, the author seems to suggest that Jessie may fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum and so the book can also be used to teach understanding and compassion for those who, like Jessie, have a hard time understanding people’s feelings.

 

The Song of el Coqui and Other Tales of Puerto Rico

Do you ever wonder where the great winds and the sound of the rain came from? Or how strange birds like Guinean Fowls made their way from Africa to Puerto Rico? One need only quiet their mind and delve deep into Nicholas Mohr and Antonio Martorell’s book, The Song of el Coqui, to discover these Puerto Rican legends.

61BHG4TW96L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This book of legends contains three stories. The first is about the god Huracán who lived in a sad silence until the noise of the Coquí broke the silence and brought music and joy to his life. The second follows La Guinea, a small bird who, after hiding in a basket aboard a ship, finds herself a long way from Africa and on the shores of Puerto Rico only to be harshly treated until her beauty is recognized by Don Elías. Finally, the story of La Mula, a strong and hardworking mule who is harshly treated by her masters until she is sold, befriends Don Eduardo, and helps him escape his own slavery and return to his people, the Cimmarones.

These three stories help to tell something distinct of the Puerto Rican people. Their ancestry is expressed in the beautiful words of the authors and illustrated in grand color, typical of Puerto Rican art. This story would be wonderful to incorporate into a world culture unit, and to encourage students to write a story explaining things in their own culture. Finally, the authors preserved many Puerto Rican words that students may find interesting.

Olivia Casbarro

Shiloh

 

 

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Shiloh 

Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Genre: Realistic Fiction Chapter Book

Grade Level: 3-5

Publishing Date: 1991

Awards/Honors: Newbery Medal 1992

Summary: Marty Preston is a young boy who stumbles across a lost beagle one day in his backyard. He names the beagle Shiloh and decides to take him in as his dog. When Marty finds out that Shiloh actually belongs to the alcoholic dog-abuser Judd Travers, he must figure out a way to keep Shiloh away from him and adopt him as his own. 

Review: This is a very realistic story about friendship and good versus evil. This would be a great book to read to students in a classroom. The moral of the tale is friendship and perseverance against evil and those morals are great to teach to student’s through a book about a boy and his dog. I would read this book to my students because many children can relate to having a dog as their best friend, like Marty. This is also a Newbery Medal winner and I believe this book deserved to win. Shiloh really pulls on readers “heart-strings,” especially mine when I read it. 

-Kelsey Wilson

Don’t Hold Me Back

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Don’t Hold Me Back is a story about an artist Winfred Rembert who painted the pictures for this book about his life. It is edited and compiled by Charles and Rosalie Baker and Jock Reynolds. It also starts with a poem by Nikki Giovanni.

This is a story about a painter who grew up in the south on a cotton plantation and took part in the civil rights movement. He details what it was like to live in his home town in his art and through his interviews. Due to his involvement with civil rights, he was arrested and sent to prison, which helped him to make something of his life with art. His book nicely displays the beauty in his style of art. I enjoyed the part about his childhood, where he told of the many toy inventions that he made and trade with his friends and neighbors. This is a useful book for looking at life in the south for African-Americans coming off of slavery and moving into the civil rights movement. It gives one a good sense of their culture and the huge impact that slavery had on the African-Americans.

-Anne Kehoe-

I Have a Sister–My Sister Is Deaf

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Author: Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson

Illustrator: Deborah Kogan Ray

This book is about the beautiful bond between a girl and her deaf sister. The author tells little stories, narrated in the voice of the older sister, about how the deaf sister has learned to adapt to her deafness by reading lips and being expressive with her hands and eyes. Although the deaf sister cannot hear the telephone ringing, she can feel it. Although she cannot hear the howl of the wolf, she takes in all the different movements of the grasses in the field. When her older sister wears a large pair of glasses, the deaf sister takes off the glasses, because a large part of her communication is nonverbal.

This book would be a great resource for any classroom because it shows that deaf people are dignified members of society and should be treated as such by everyone. Even when kids are different than their peers, they have abilities and talents that are unique to themselves. The author mentions how the other kids at school do not understand the deaf sister, and adds that she has to struggle to do the things the other kids can do with ease. By assigning this book in the classroom, students will be exposed to an exceptional student, and will have a greater understanding of the appropriate behavior when interacting with a deaf person.

This book has beautifully simple illustrations that add to the text but do not draw attention from the author’s important message.