March 2017 Middle School

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 Middle School)

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip M. Hoose. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

When Germany invaded Denmark in April, 1940, the Danish government signed an agreement not to fight back. This capitulation did not sit well with many ordinary Danes. Knud Pedersen was a school boy, but he and his brother and some friends began acts of resistance—small scale annoyances and mayhem. When the Pedersens moved, the brothers formed the Churchill Club, and their activity began to escalate. From the time they stole their first gun, the boys began thinking about what they were doing in moral terms: Could they shoot a German? Under what circumstances? Meanwhile, they focused on the sabotage of train cars and vehicles. Caught, they were eventually sent to prison, but their trial sparked greater resistance efforts across the nation. By the time Knud got out of prison, his family had become an important part of the growing Danish resistance. Phillip Hoose interviewed Knud Pedersen extensively as part of this riveting account, which goes back and forth between Knud’s reminiscences and Hoose’s narrative. The boys’ youth, and at times immaturity, is conveyed along with their commitment and passion for their cause.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How did the boys’ deeds have an effect on Denmark’s resistance movement?
  2. Would you categorize the boys as impetuous or heroic? Support your answer.
  3. What world/societal issues could this story relate to today?
  4. If this book became a movie, which part, person or role would you want to play?

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson. Scholastic, 2015

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom? from the publisher

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What purpose did the quotes serve at the beginning of each chapter?
  2. Gerta got help from unexpected people. What were their motivations for helping her?
  3. Why did the East Germans need a wall to keep people from leaving?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net!

March 2017 Intermediate

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | March - (Comments Off on March 2017 Intermediate)

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game by John Coy. Illustrated by Randy DuBurke. Carolrhoda, 2015

In 1944, the Duke University Medical School basketball team played a secret game against five members of the Eagles from the North Carolina College of Negroes in defiance of segregation laws. The match was arranged by Eagles coach John McLendon, who had an African American father and Delaware Indian mother, and believed an interracial game could help erase prejudice. The Eagles blew out Duke with a final score of 88 to 44, dominating the play with their new fast-break attacking style. A second game of shirts and skins followed, with players from both teams mixing to make a more evenly matched competition. In a post-game gathering at the Eagles’ dormitory, all players agreed to keep the game secret in order to protect one another and Coach McLendon from legal liability or social retribution. A concluding sentence of this captivating story pays tribute to Coach McLendon and the players of both teams who “were years ahead of their time” on the road to athletic racial integration.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What was the significance of these two teams playing together? Why was it important for this game to be secret?
  2. Why do you think the author titled this book “Game Changer”? What are some of the different meanings of “game changer” in the book?
  3. Have you ever changed your assumptions about someone once you got to know them?
  4. Why do you think the illustrator changed the style of the art after the game?

The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. Scholastic Press, 2015

Peter’s Taiwanese American family is struggling since the death of his older brother, Nelson. Peter, Nelson, and their mother shared a love of baseball, so Peter tries out for a team in hopes it will spark his mother’s interest, since she’s so sad she rarely leaves the couch. But it’s Ba who gets involved, volunteering to coach Peter’s team. Angry that his father, who argued with Nelson about the Vietnam War, can’t make things at home better, Peter is now embarrassed by him as a coach. But turns out Ba has been paying attention to baseball—he even played as a boy—and to what’s happening at home more than Peter knew. A novel grounded in the perspective of a child in a family working through grief also succeeds as an accessible, engaging sports story, one that addresses changing social norms in the 1970s.When one of the team’s best players, Aaron, turns out to be Erin—a girl—parents threaten to pull their sons from the team. Ba leaves it up to the kids to decide if she should stay. Meanwhile, there are moments when Peter’s mother shows a spark, but baseball is not a magic cure. Time, says Ba. Nuanced characters, including Peter’s mother and Nelson, both developed in flashbacks, are among the story’s many strengths. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the different characters handle grief?
  2. How does baseball bring people together in this story? How does it change their views of each other?
  3. How did you feel when you learned Erin was a girl?

Find more resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Art, Science, and Creativity: March 2017 Primary

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2016-2017 | March - (Comments Off on Art, Science, and Creativity: March 2017 Primary)

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. Abrams, 2015

An art teacher asks a boy and his classmates touring a museum to consider why various pieces are on display: What makes them art? “Because it’s beautiful,” says Alice about one painting. “Because it came from somewhere far away,” says Thomas about another. “Because it’s different.” “Because it tells a story.” “Because it makes me feel good.” “Because it’s funny.” That night the boy thinks about his classmates’ observations, and about what the teacher said, “Anything can be in an art exhibition.” And then he thinks about his Grandma, who is different, funny, tells him stories, makes him feel good, and comes from far away. “I should give Grandma to the museum!” Alas, the museum director explains, they don’t accept Grandmas. A playful yet probing narrative is paired with illustrations blending cartoon styling with renditions of the real works of art that inspire the students’ thinking and creativity. The African American boy at story’s center goes on to paint a whimsical series in tribute to his Grandma.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. Pre-reading: What is art?
  2. Do you recognize some of the paintings and sculptures in the book?
  3. Why do you think text appears in two formats?
  4. After reading this book, how has your understanding of art and making art changed?

I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos. Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas. Henry Holt, 2015

The fly narrating this informative picture book is full of enthusiasm, not to mention knowledge, eager to convince a class studying butterflies that flies are just as worthy a subject. “Here’s how the story goes: My 500 brothers and sisters and I started out as eggs. Our mom tucked us into a warm, smelly bed of dog doo.” The fly’s impromptu lecture (it came in through the window during a science class) is followed by a Q-and-A session, with the fly dispelling misinformation about its species. Bridget Heos’s funny, factual narrative (well, except for the talking fly) is perfectly matched by Jennifer Plecas’s clean-lined, cartoon-like illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  1. How does the fly show us the difference between facts and myths?
  2. What information about flies do you find most interesting in this book?
  3. In what ways are flies and butterflies alike? different?

Find more resources for Grandma in Blue with Red Hat and I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are at TeachingBooks.net!

Families Together: March 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2016-2017 | March - (Comments Off on Families Together: March 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Candlewick Press, 2015

Mia doesn’t speak Spanish well and her abuela, who has come to live with Mia’s family, doesn’t speak English well. They share a room, and Abuela watches Mia after school, but there is a lot of silence. Then Mia begins teaching her grandmother English words, even labeling things at home like they sometimes do in her classroom at school, and Abuela teaches Mia Spanish words. The locked door between them starts to open. It opens wider when Mia sees a parrot at the pet shop and the family buys it for Abuela, who had a pet parrot back home. By story’s end, Abuela is reading Mia her favorite book, and telling stories “about Abuelo, who could dive for river stones with a single breath and weave a roof out of palms.” A warm picture book story that has some lovely turns of phrase and integrates Spanish words into the English text is set against cheery illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: How do you say hello, goodbye, and I love you without words?
  • Sing: Visit your library and listen to songs in Spanish.
  • Write: Draw a picture of yourself with a grandparent or a favorite adult.
  • Play: Visit your library and find more bilingual books.
  • Math or Science: Taste a mango! Is it sweet, sour, tangy?

One Family by George Shannon. Illustrated by Blanca Gómez. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015

An unusual, conceptually sophisticated counting book looks at the way the number “one” can be represented by a single object, a pair of items, or a group of things varying in number from three all the way up to 10. For every number from two to 10, “one” is also a group with that many members. “One is three. One house of bears. One bowl of pears … One is five. One bunch of bananas. One hand of cards.” The narrative works hand-in-hand with the illustrations, with each page spread featuring a scene in which everything named can be found and counted (e.g., a family of three walking down a street in which one building they pass has a bowl with three pears in the window and a toy shop with a window display featuring the three bears in a doll house). While the art has a nostalgic feel, there is multicultural and intergenerational diversity within and across the families, all of whom are shown together on the final page spread: “One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.”  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Who is in your family? Name them all.
  • Sing: A counting song.
  • Write: How old are you? How many different ways can you show this number using different objects?
  • Play: Hopscotch
  • Math or Science: Count the groupings on each page. What kinds of groups can you find in your world?

The New Small Person by Lauren Child. Candlewick Press, 2015

Elmore Green enjoys being an only child. He doesn’t have to worry about anyone messing with his stuff, and “Elmore Green’s parents thought he was simply the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person they had ever seen.” When a “new small person” arrives, Elmore Green’s perfectly ordered life is turned upside down. “They all seemed to like it … maybe a little bit MORE than they liked Elmore Green.” As the new small person gets bigger, he disrupts Elmore’s things, he licks Elmore’s jelly beans, he follows Elmore around, he moves into Elmore’s room. It’s awful, until the night Elmore has a bad dream and the small person comforts him. Not long after, Elmore is arranging his precious things in a long line, and the small person is adding his own things to the effort. “It felt good to have someone there who understood why a long line of things was SO special.” And it turns out that this small person has a name: Albert. A fresh, funny take on a familiar family scenario features two brown-skinned brothers in droll, spirited illustrations that are a perfect match for the narrative’s tone. Lauren Child’s story is joyful even as it acknowledges the very real feelings of frustration and uncertainty that come with a new sibling. Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about your favorite things. Do you share them with others?
  • Sing: Choose a song. Sing it loudly. Sing it quietly. Sing it in a silly way.
  • Write: Draw a picture of your favorite things.
  • Play: Share your favorite toys with a friend.
  • Math or Science: How many are in your family? Do you think it’s a big or small family?


Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | Middle School | High School | March - (Comments Off on Our March Titles are Here! Check Them Out!)

socksifyouwereadogfirefly july

what forest knows

flora and ulysses

stubby the war dog


falling into place

Click on any of these book cover images to learn more about that book! Read an annotation from the CCBC! Find discussion questions and activities as well as links to TeachingBooks.net and all of their fabulous resources!

Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | High School | March - (Comments Off on Great Read from Debut Wisconsin Author! March 2016 High School Title)

falling into placeFalling into Place by Amy Zhang. Greenwillow / Icon_HighSchoolHarperCollins, 2014.

Popular Liz Emerson was trying to commit suicide when she ran her car off the road. But she’s survived, at least for now. With Liz in the ICU, flashback chapters from the perspective of her best friends, Julia and Kennie, her mom, Monica, and Liam, a boy who loved Liz without ever telling her, reveal what led Liz to the point of such despair. Liz, it turns out, was good to her friends, but not very nice to others. In fact, she could be quite cruel, and Liam was one of the victims of her cruelty. But the journey back in time also reveals that Liz wasn’t always this way. After her dad died in an accident for which she blames herself, Liz moved away from the kind person she once was. Self-hatred fueled her downward spiral, compounding itself because she also hated the person she’d become. The tension in Amy Zhang’s debut novel is revealed not only through the constant reminder of Liz’s devastating act (chapters are titled in relation to the event, e.g., “Five Years Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car,” “Fifty-Five Minutes Before Liz Emerson Crashed Her Car”) but also in Liz’s despicable behavior and genuine despair. Her survival, it is clear, depends on much more than her body healing. The novel concludes with hotline numbers for anyone needing help if they or a friend are considering suicide.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find educator resources at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conservation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why do you think Zhang tell Liz’s story in a non-chronological format? How would a different plot structure change the tension and pace of the story?
  2. What techniques does Zhang use to take an unsympathetic protagonist and make the reader care about her?
  3. How does Zhang’s inclusion of an unknown narrator influence the plot development?

Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2015-2016 | Middle School | March - (Comments Off on Action and Adventure in this Survival Story from a Wisconsin Author! March 2016 Middle School Title)

scavengersThe Scavengers by Michael Perry. HarperCollins, Books for Middle School Age2014.

From the publisher: Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember meets Louis Sachar’s Holes (or, as Mike puts it, Little House on the Prairie meets Mad Max) in this imaginative and hilarious middle grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Michael Perry.

When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities . . . or take their chances outside. Maggie’s family chose to live in the world that was left behind. Deciding it’s time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself “Ford Falcon”—a name inspired by the beat-up car she finds at a nearby junkyard…the same junkyard where Ford’s family goes to scavenge for things they can use and barter with the other people who live OutBubble. Her family has been able to survive this brave new world by working together. But when Ford comes home one day to discover her home ransacked and her family missing, she must find the strength to rescue her loved ones with the help of some friends–including one very feisty rooster.

The Scavengers is a wholly original tween novel that combines an action-packed adventure, a heartfelt family story, and a triumphant journey of self-discovery. It achieves the perfect balance of humor and heart in a world where one person’s junk is another person’s key to survival.

Read an excerpt from the book, hear a clip from the audiobook, read reviews on the Michael Perry’s website, SneezingCow.com.

Find resources for The Scavengers at TeachingBooks.net.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why does Maggie change her name to Ford Falcon? What is the significance of her name change? What does it mean when her father calls her Ford Falcon at the end of the book?
  2. Why does Ford Falcon stay in the car instead of in the shack with her family?
  3. Why does Ford decide to stay out of the Bubble at the end of the book? Would you have the courage to do so? Would you choose to live InBubble or OutBubble? Explain.

Tales of Extraordinary Bravery: March 2016 Intermediate Titles

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | 2015-2016 | March - (Comments Off on Tales of Extraordinary Bravery: March 2016 Intermediate Titles)

flora and ulyssesFlora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readersKate DiCamillo. Illustrated by K. G. Campbell. Candlewick Press, 2013.

Flora’s been pretty cynical since her parents’ divorce. She spends most of her time reading superhero comics while her self-involved mom works on her next romance novel and her dad, with his lack of confidence, flounders. But when Flora sees a hapless squirrel sucked up by a vacuum, she’s on the scene in an instant performing CPR (she learned it in the back of a comic book). “For a cynic I am a surprisingly helpful person,” she thinks. The squirrel not only lives, but is changed by the experience. He understands what Flora says. And he can write—poetry no less—plunking out deep, thoughtful verses on the typewriter belonging to Flora’s mom. Flora names him Ulysses (for the model of vacuum that was almost his demise) and thinks of him as a superhero in real life. Ulysses may not be able to save the world, but he just might be able to save Flora, restoring her belief in friendship and family. Kate DiCamillo’s witty, wonderful work of magical realism is patently absurd with its flights of fancy and wordplay, but that’s its charm. The lively prose narrative is punctuated by interludes of black-and-white panel illustrations by K. G. Campbell that showcase small vignettes of action while referencing the comic-book form.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find resources for Flora and Ulysses, including links to 8 lesson plans at TeachingBooks.net!

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both stories (Flora and Ulysses and Stubby the War Dog) use headlines. What would be the headline for your life today?
  2. How do the text features affect the story? How do the illustrations affect your understanding of the story and the characters?
  3. How does the mother change throughout the story? Why does the mom want to get rid of Ulysses? What does the mom say that’s hurtful and why?
  4. Why do you think that the boy pretends to be blind? How would the story and characters change if the boy didn’t pretend to be blind?

Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s stubby the war dogBravest Dog by Ann Bausum. National Geographic, 2014.

As he was training for duty overseas in 1917, Pvt. J. Robert Conroy bonded with a stray dog at the training camp. Conroy named the dog Stubby due to his stub of a tail, and smuggled him on board his ship when he headed for France. Stubby was so smart and so personable that he quickly became the unofficial mascot for Conroy’s division. On the battlefield, Stubby proved his worth by locating fallen soldiers and staying with them until help arrived, and warning the unit of poison gas. He earned a medal for bravery when he captured a German soldier. After the war, Stubby’s reputation and fame continued to grow. Author Ann Bausum did extensive primary research through documents, photos, and mementos at the Smithsonian, which has taxidermy Stubby in its collection, and one of the intriguing aspects of her narrative is occasional comments on the challenges of separating fact from fiction, since even stories written when Stubby was alive were prone to hyperbole. She also interviewed Conroy’s grandson, who shared memories of his grandfather and his stories about Stubby. Numerous photographs of Stubby, Conroy, and other memorabilia are an integral part of a volume that includes a timeline, extensive bibliography, and wonderful research notes.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Check out the great resources for TeachingBooks.net!

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Before reading: Both stories (Flora and Ulysses and Stubby the War Dog) use headlines. What would be the headline for your life today?
  2. Can you identify any primary sources in the book? How do the primary sources affect the story?
  3. Make a timeline of Stubby’s Story.
  4. How do animals help people through difficult times? What examples can you find in this book? Which of Stubby’s feats impressed you most?

Celebrate Nature with the March 2016 Primary Titles

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Primary (Grades K-2) | 2015-2016 | March - (Comments Off on Celebrate Nature with the March 2016 Primary Titles)

firefly julyFirefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Primary Icon of a White-Tailed DeerPaul B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Candlewick Press, 2014.

A smile-inducing collection of poems offers a range of perspectives on the seasons and an introduction to an array of poets both contemporary and classic. Charlotte Zolotow’s “Little Orange Cat,” Ralph Fletcher’s “Water Lily,” and Carl Sandburg’s “Window” are among subjects for Spring. Summer includes “Subway Rush Hour” by Langston Hughes and Joyce Sidman’s “Happy Meeting” in which “Rain meets dust: / soft, cinnamon kisses. / Quick, noisy courtship, / then marriage: mud.” Fall and Winter speak in the voices of William Carlos Williams, Eve Merriam, Robert Frost, Ted Kooser, and others. The brevity of the individual poems makes each one feel like a perfect little package, to be opened, sighed over, shared. Melissa Sweet’s lovely illustrations offer concrete yet whimsical images that shift stylistically, providing an appealing accompaniment to poem while maintaining a sense of unity across the pages.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources for Firefly July at TeachingBooks.net, including this teaching guide from The Classroom Bookshelf and QR codes.

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do the illustrations help us to understand the words in the poems?
  2. Describe how the words and illustrations identify the seasons?
  3. What are the differences between the fog in Carl Sandburg’s poem (p. 36) and Ever Merriam’s poem (p. 37)?

What Forest Knows by George Ella Lyon. Illustrated by what forest knowsAugust Hall. A Richard Jackson Book / Atheneum, 2014.

An inspired journey through the seasons in a wood offers a growing litany of what Forest knows, from “snow / icy branches / frozen waterfall” in winter to “buds … / waking / opening up” in spring. Forest knows “growing, / going forth … / fruit” in summer, and “gathering in, letting go” in fall. Then Forest knows snow again, and change, in everything and everyone. A picture book full of rich, evocative words moves seamlessly between ideas and concrete details of many things that might be found in the wood across the seasons. Astute observers will appreciate the dual meaning applied to “Forest” through the illustrations. The word can not only be taken as the woods personified, it can also be interpreted as the name of the brown dog seen on every page spread, exploring the woods throughout the year. Highly Commended, 2015 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Find more resources for What Forest Knows at TeachingBooks.net,

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Who or what do you think is Forest? Show examples for your opinion.
  2. In what season does the book begin? In what season does the book end?
  3. Identify words in the story that describe or show action?

Great Books for Literacy Activities: March 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | March - (Comments Off on Great Books for Literacy Activities: March 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

socksSocks! by Tania Sohn. Kane Miller, 2014.Icon_PreSchool

A little girl’s love for socks of all types — “yellow socks so I can play [soccer] … daddy socks,” Christmas stockings, socks that she turns into puppets, others she pretends are an elephant’s trunk — culminates with a pair of extra special socks that arrive in the mail: “Beoseon! Traditional Korean socks, from Grandma.” The simple text is set against clean-lined, appealing illustrations showing a small girl of Korean heritage, and a playful black-and-white kitten that is almost as enamored of all the different socks as she is!  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Read: Socks!
  • Talk: Talk about the patterns and colors on the socks in the book. What colors are the different socks?
  • Play: Make sock puppets. Let your child make names and characters for their puppets. Put on a puppet show for each other.
  • STEM: Sort laundry, find pairs, and talk about patterns.

If You Were a Dog by Jamie A. Swenson. Illustrated by Chris ifyouwereadogRaschka. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.

“If you were a dog, would you be a speedy-quick, lickedy-sloppidy, scavenge-the-garbage, Frisbee-catching, hot-dog-stealing, pillow-hogging, best-friend-ever sort of dog? Would you howl at the moon? Some dogs do.” A playful picture book full of fresh turns of phrase asks similar questions about being a cat, fish, bird, bug, frog, and even a dinosaur in author Jamie Swenson’s merry offering that is sure to invite role-playing (be prepared for moon-howling and dinosaur stomping in story time). Chris Raschka’s whimsical illustrations are a perfect match for Swenson’s imaginative outing that concludes with the very best thing of all to be: a kid! Highly Commended, 2015 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Read: If You Were a Dog
  • Talk: Talk about the different words and phrases used to describe the animals in the book. What words would you use to describe yourself, a pet, or a friend.
  • Write: Do some watercolor painting in the spirit of this book’s style.
  • Play: Encourage role play and pretend to be the different animals depicted in the book.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

The Nazi Hunters / I See the Promised Land

March 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in 2014-2015 | High School | March - (Comments Off on The Nazi Hunters / I See the Promised Land)

nazi hunters i see the promised landHS


The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2013.

I See the Promised Land: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Arthur Flowers. Illustrated by Manu Chitrakar. Designed by Guglielmo Rossi. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2013.


Having read one or both of these books…

1. How do the visual elements of the text impact your understanding of the story? What are some of the other choices the authors and illustrators made to emotionally engage readers? How do these elements work together?

2. Cite evidence of people in these books taking action for a cause greater rather than for themselves. What compels them to do this? How do those actions impact us today?

3. What did you learn about the time periods and people involved in these stories that you didn’t know before reading these books?


March: Book One / Imprisoned

March 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Middle School | 2014-2015 | March - (Comments Off on March: Book One / Imprisoned)

march book oneMSMarch: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell. Top Shelf, 2013.

1. Education was important to John Lewis from the time he was a child. How is this introduced and then explored throughout the book? What does John Lewis learn from raising chickens and reading scripture? How do these learning experiences influence his life?

2. How does the use of the graphic novel style contribute to John Lewis’s story? Does it detract in any ways?

3. Why was nonviolent resistance/civil disobedience effective with Lewis’ group’s protests? What other problems could be solved with this type of action? Are there any problems that could not (or should not) be approached this way?


imprisonedImprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler. Walker, 2013.

1. The author believes that the response of the government and many individual Americans to people of Japanese descent in the U.S. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor was unjust and hysterical. How does he convey this perspective and support it in the narrative?

2. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion were two units composed entirely of Japanese Americans. What were some of the reasons these men gave for fighting for a country that had treated them so poorly?

3. Why do you think it took so long for the U.S. government to apologize for the treatment of Americans of Japanese ancestry?

Books for Middle School Age

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