Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011
1. What are ways you tell this book is set in the 1960s rather than today?
2. Jack reads history to escape his boredom. What do you do?
3. Why do Jack and Miss Volker make a good team?
Let’s Go See Papá! by Lawrence Schimel. Translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado. Illustrated by Alba Marina. Groundwood, 2011
1. What ways can you keep in touch with people you love when you can’t be near them?
2. How would you help the girl in this book if she started coming to your school?
3. Why do you think people choose to move to other countries?
Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr. Illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Beach Lane, 2011
1. The first caterpillar in the story “crawled,” the second one “climbed,” and the third one “wriggled.” Pretend to be each one of those caterpillars. Is there a difference between crawling, climbing and wriggling?
2. Can you think of other ways a caterpillar might move?
3. Let’s count the caterpillars at the book’s end together. What numbers would come next after ten?
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook Press, 2012
1. Compare the colors at the end of the book to the beginning. Have they changed? If so, how and why?
2. What do you think you might hear if you put your ear to the ground in the spring? What else might you hear if you listen closely to outdoor sounds in the spring? How about summer, fall and winter?
3. (Adult) With children, plant seeds indoors in cups. Send home after plants have sprouted.
Insect Detectives by Steve Voake. Illustrated by Charlotte Voake. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2010
1. What are some things in nature we can see (any time of year) . . . Let’s choose one to look at more closely . . . Now what do you see?
2. Let’s go outside and find an insect to watch. (spring/summer). . . What you notice it?
3. If you were an insect detective, is there a bug you would want to look for?
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman. Scholastic Press, 2011
1. As a reader, how many red flags can you identify as Abby is “groomed” by Luke?
2. What is the effect of having different perspectives in Parts 1, 2, and 3? How did this work for you as a reader?
3. The characters in the book reference guidelines they were given about online safety. How would you teach online safety to younger kids?
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Illustrated by Jim Kay. Candlewick Press, 2011
1. Why is it so hard for Connor to sort out what is real and what isn’t real?
2. How do the illustrations affect your understanding of the story?
3. Why is telling the truth so difficult for Connor? How is it difficult for you?
Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak. Translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson. Illustrated by Philip Hopman. U.S. edition: Eerdman’s, 2011
1. What did you learn about World War II that you didn’t know before?
2. How did Voytek win over people’s hearts and minds? What is it about animals that people find so appealing?
3. What animal would you train to help you?
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O’Connell George. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Clarion, 2011
1. A dilemma is a situation that has good parts and bad parts. What were the good parts about having a little sister? What were the bad parts?
2. Are you more like Jess or Emma?
3. Each poem tells about a small moment in Jess and Emma’s lives. Together, the poems tell a story. Share something you remember from this story.
Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla. Illustrated by Amy Córdova. Tricycle Press, 2010
1. A fiesta is a party. Let’s find at all the party things happening in the book (e.g, dancing, eating, singing)
2. Adult: Give shakers and streamers or ribbons to create a (supervised) fiesta.
3. Adult: Play upbeat dancing music and ask children to dance after reading the book together (you can read the book while they dance, too!)
Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke. Illustrated by Lauren Tobias. U.S. edition: Kane Miller, 2011
1. What are some things you like to do when you are happy?
2. What are some of the things the people in Anna’s family do when they are happy?
3. Anna lives with her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Who do you live with? Who else is in your family?
Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2011
1. How do the names “Blink” and “Caution” reflect the identities of the two main characters? Do you have a nickname that authentically describes you?
2. How does the relationship between Blink and Caution change over the course of the book?
3. Blink, Caution, and Jack Niven are all trying to keep a secret. What are those secrets and how are they resolved?
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press, 2009
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming. Schwartz & Wade, 2011
1. Why do you think we know so much about Amelia Earhart, but so little about the Mercury 13?
2. Was Amelia Earhart a good role model? Why or why not?
3. How might history be different if the women had been first in space?
Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg. Houghton Mifflin, 2011
1. Which of your teachers or older relatives do you think would be willing to travel over the falls in a barrel? Would you?
2. How would this story be different if it happened today?
3. Have you heard or seen anyone performing an unbelievable feat? Why do you think people take those risks?