Big Snow / Little You

January 1st, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2014-2015 | January - (Comments Off on Big Snow / Little You)

big snow

Big Snow by Jonathan Bean. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

1. Which white things in the story make David think of snow?

2. What do you think David and his parents will do in the snow? What do you like to do in the snow?

3. What are some of the words used to describe the snow?



little you

Little You by Richard Van Camp. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Orca, 2013.

1. Who is holding the baby?

2. What do you see in the sky?

3. Find something red.



The Year of the Book

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on The Year of the Book)

year of the book cover

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

1. Anna’s mom thinks she is being selfish when she doesn’t want to spend time with other people. Do you think her mom is being fair? What are some of the reasons you do or don’t agree with her based on what you know and learn about Anna in the story?

2. Anna loves to read. What does she enjoy about reading? What role do books play in her life?

3. What are some of the reasons Anna is uncertain about spending time with Laura? What do you think she gains by becoming friends with Laura again?


Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

No Crystal Stair / Darkroom

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in High School | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on No Crystal Stair / Darkroom)

no crystal stair cover

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda LAB, 2012

1. Lewis Michaux believed that books change lives. What are ways you can see this exemplified in the narrative?

2. This is a work of documentary fiction—much of it is based on fact, but the author had to take artistic license as well. How does it differ from a straightforward work of non-fiction? What are some of the ways the book as a whole succeeds in giving you both facts about Lewis Michaux and a deeper understanding of who he was and what he believed?

3. A number of factors led to the closing of Michaux’s bookstore in the 1970s, from racism to economics to politics. What do you think was the biggest reason the store had to close? What did the community lose as a result?


darkroom cover

Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver. The University of Alabama Press, 2012

1. What were some of the pivotal events throughout her childhood that gave the author deeper insight into the struggle for civil rights?

2. The author talks about knowing from the time she was young that she did not fit on either side of the racial divide, but as she gets older she finds that she connects more with Black kids than white kids. Why do you think this was the case?

3. In what ways does the title connect to the story the author tells?



Marching to the Mountaintop / Fire in the Streets

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | 2013-2014 | January - (Comments Off on Marching to the Mountaintop / Fire in the Streets)

marching to the mountaintop cover

Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Hours by Ann Bausum. National Geographic, 2012

1. What are some of the factors that led to the garbage workers deciding to strike in Memphis?

2. Why was Martin Luther King, Jr., initially reluctant to come to Memphis? What made him change his mind?

3. There are several major stories in this book: the Memphis garbage workers’ strike; the shifting focus of Martin Luther King’s activism from racism to poverty; and King’s assassination.  What did you learn about the connection among these three things?


fire in the streets cover

Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon . Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2012

1. What does Maxie find so appealing about being part of the Black Panthers?

2. Based on what you know about Maxie in the story, why do you think she decides to turn in her brother? If you were in Maxie’s position, what do you think you would do?

3. This story is set in 1968, a time of great political and racial turmoil. What details did you find especially interesting about that time? Were there things that struck you as being very different from—or similar to—today?


Books for Middle School Age

I’ll Save You, Bobo! / Baby, Where Are You?

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on I’ll Save You, Bobo! / Baby, Where Are You?)

I'll Save You Bobo cover

I’ll Save You, Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. Atheneum, 2012

1. Who is your favorite character in this story? Why?

2. Do you think Earl the cat likes Bobo? Why or why not?

3. What do you like about the stories the little boy tells? Do you ever make up stories? (What are they about?)


baby where are you cover

Baby, Where Are You? by Mack. U.S. edition: Clavis, 2012

1. Let’s find an animal in the book that lives in or near the water. What is it?

2. Let’s find an animal in the book walking in the sand. What is it?

3. Which animals in the book have long necks?


Poem to pair from Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2007:

“Tide and Seek” by Andrew Fusek Peters, p. 80


Lemonade in Winter

January 1st, 2014 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | January | 2013-2014 - (Comments Off on Lemonade in Winter)

lemonade in winter cover

Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Schwartz & Wade, 2012

1. What are some of the things Pauline and John-John do to get ready to have a lemonade stand?

2. How do Pauline and John-John try to get customers? Is there anything else you would have also done if you were in their place?

3. If you were going to sell something in winter, what would it be? Why? What would you need to get ready to have your sale?


Primary Icon of a White-Tailed Deer

Blink & Caution

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in High School | January | 2012-2013 - (Comments Off on Blink & Caution)

Blink and Caution cover
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 / Amelia Lost

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in Middle School | January | 2012-2013 - (Comments Off on Almost Astronauts / Amelia Lost)

Almost Astronauts cover
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone. Candlewick Press, 2009
Amelia Lost cover
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?

Books for Middle School Age

Queen of the Falls

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January | 2012-2013 - (Comments Off on Queen of the Falls)

Queen of the Falls cover
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?

Icon for the Intermediate (Grades 3-5) readers

Crouching Tiger / These Hands

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in Primary (Grades K-2) | January | 2012-2013 - (Comments Off on Crouching Tiger / These Hands)

Crouching Tiger coverThese Hands cover
Crouching Tiger by Ying Chang Compestine. Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Candlewick Press, 2011

These Hands by Margaret H. Mason. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin, 2011


1. What do the boys learn from their grandfathers?

2. What celebrations are important in your family?

3. How are the grandsons’ lives different from their grandfathers’ lives? How are they the same?

Swirl by Swirl / Stars

January 1st, 2013 | Posted by schliesman in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | January | 2012-2013 - (Comments Off on Swirl by Swirl / Stars)

Swirl by Swirl coverSwirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin, 2011

1. Let’s trace some of these spirals in the book with our fingers (a pre-writing skill).

2. Let’s look for a spiral somewhere in this room/house/outside. Can we find other shapes?

3. (Adult) Have a group of children hold hands and create a spiral.

Stars cover
by Mary Lin Ray. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books, 2011

1. Let’s look for stars in the world around us. (e.g., Are there stars on the wall or calendar in your house/classroom? Flowers with starlike shapes outside? Cut an an apple through its equator and look at the star inside.)

2. The story begins, “A star is how you know it’s almost night.” What are some other ways you can tell when it’s almost night?

3. (Adult) Make a star for each child (or have each child make a star). Ask child/children: what kinds of things their star can do (e.g., Is it magical? If so, what kind of magic can it do? Does it shine?)

Between Shades of Gray

January 1st, 2012 | Posted by in High School | January | 2011-2012 - (Comments Off on Between Shades of Gray)

Between Shades of Gray book coverBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, 2011

1. What does the title, Between Shades of Gray, mean to you?
2. Art was important to Lina. What do you think Lina gained from continuing to draw while being held prisoner? What do you think art does for you and for our world today?
3. What new information did you learn about World War II?

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