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Matilda

Matilda - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Matilda is a book about an extraordinary little girl who lives with an incredibly neglectful and selfish family who could care less about her existence. Despite Matilda's horrendous upbringing, she manages to find solace at school among her peers and her good-hearted teacher, Ms. Honey. Her trouble's are far from over though. The principal of the school, Ms. Trunchbull, is a big bully that terrorizes the students and faculty. Matilda discovers something truly incredible about herself along the way, and manages to find complete happiness in the end. This book would be a great independent, or class read for upper elementary students. A whole study could be done on books, turned into movies. If several books were introduced, and read, the class could vote on which book they would like to see as a movie. My pick would be Matilda. There are also several resources on teacherspayteachers that align common core literature standards to the book Matilda.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon - Crockett Johnson

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a delightful story featuring a little boy named Harold. Harold uses his imagination, along with his purple crayon, to draw the entire setting of the book. Harold first sets off on a walk in the moonlight, but gets lost along the way. He uses his purple crayon to draw his way back home. It's a simple story, but that is why I like it so much. Imagination doesn't take much, a purple crayon will do. This book would work best in a lower elementary classroom. Discussions could be had about what a progressive setting is, as opposed to a fixed setting. I could discuss what a pun is, and give examples from the story. If I wanted to, I could talk about various art techniques, such as a vanishing point, or foreshortening for the upper grades. For lower elementary, students could make their own progressive settings using window markers, or by using a crayon and a long roll of easel paper. 1:1 Correspondence, Critical thinking, fine motor, odd/even numbers, can all be assessed by giving a student a piece of paper with small and large buildings and several cards with numbers and asking them to draw the number of windows that correspond to the numeral. They will have to use their critical thinking skills to match the smaller number to the smaller building and vice versa. 

 

Skippyjon Jones

Skippyjon Jones - Judy Schachner

Skippyjon Jones is an adorable story about a Siamese cat who thinks he is a superhero Chihuahua! Skippyjon is the only boy in the litter, and is constantly getting himself into trouble. When he is sent to his room, he embarks on an adventure to save a band of chihuahuas from a huge bumblebee who is stealing all of their frijoles! This is the first book in a series of books featuring Skippyjon Jones, but this one is my all time favorite. It is a delightful book to read. There are several Spanish words in the book, so familiarize yourself with the language, or you just may get stumped! This book also has a lot difficult vocabulary, as well as unfamiliar language, so make sure you introduce those to the class before getting started so they can thoroughly enjoy the book! If you go to skippyjonjones.com, there is a wealth of resources for each of the books in the series. Just go to the link for teachers. In the link, there are printables, curriculum connections, ways to implement an author study unit, a readers theatre script, an English/Spanish language activity, etc..... too many to name. This book could be implemented in all elementary classrooms, just to varying degrees, but it might work best in 1st-3rd grade. 

Unique Monique

Unique Monique - Maria Rousakis, Polina Papanikolaou

Unique Monique is an adorable story about a little girl who pushes the school's uniform boundaries by setting herself apart from her peers in new and marvelous ways. There is just one problem. Every time Monique figures out a way to make herself unique, the rest of the school copies her the next day, causing chaos, and forcing the school to impose even more dress-code violations! In the end, Monique finds a way to be unique that neither her school opposes, nor her friends can imitate. I just love this book. It reminds me of my daughter, and is the reason it is one of my favorites. Some of the names in this book are "unique" and hard to pronounce, but I think it is a wonderful book to read to lower elementary, although I do not know if it can be independently read until about the 2cd or 3rd grade. One of the ways the book can be implemented in the classroom is by taking advantage of the theme of the book- Being unique! Teaching your students to stand out, to appreciate the differences in others is a great lesson! Discussions can be had about the unique qualities of individual students in the classroom by dividing your class into small groups, giving each student 5-6 plastic eggs. In each egg, the student can write special qualities about themselves, and then they can choose which quality they would like to share with their group. This activity might spur a child to really ponder the great qualities they possess.

Pinkalicious

Pinkalicious - Victoria Kann, Elizabeth Kann

Pinkalicious is a story about a little girl who loves the color pink! One rainy day, she makes  cupcakes with her mother, pink cupcakes! Despite her parent's warning, she eats too many cupcakes, so many, that when she wakes up, to her delight, she had turned pink! Her only cure was to eat a diet of green vegetables. She was unable to stop eating the cupcakes, so she turned red! She did not like the color red, so she ate as many vegetables as she could, until she returned back to normal! Lesson learned. Too much of a good thing, is too much. Pinkalicious is a good read for kindergarten. Because the book is themed around pink cupcakes, you could implement cupcakes in several of your centers. Count the number of pink sprinkles on frosting and match that to the cupcake bottom displaying the corresponding number. Use a cupcake graphic organizer to identify the plot of Pinkalicious. There is a free pinkalicious pack of cute worksheets available on teacherspayteachers. 

Horton Hears A Who!

Horton Hears a Who! - Dr. Seuss

Horton Hears A Who! is a heartwarming story about an elephant named Horton who discovers an entire town living on a speck! No one believes Horton, but that doesn't stop him from believing! Horton makes it his mission to find the infinitesimal town of Whoville, a safe place to reside. Horton famously says, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Isn't that the truth? What a great message to pass along to our students. Besides being a great moral lesson, the book can be implemented into a kindergarten or first grade classroom in so many different ways. You and your students can make an anchor chart listing all the wonderful character traits of Horton, providing evidence from the book. For Dr. Seuss week, you could use the book to inspire a whole host of creative writing in your classroom.

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss

Get your lungs ready! Green Eggs and Ham is a repetitive rhyming book about a character named Sam-I-Am who really wants his friend to try his favorite dish, green eggs and ham. Unfortunately his friend really just wants Sam to go away, but ends up giving in and eating the dish if Sam promises to leave him alone. Fortunately for Sam, his friend discovers he absolutely loves green eggs and ham! Mission accomplished! I find myself out of breath a lot when reading this particular book, but children LOVE this book, so it is a must during Dr. Seuss week. Storytube.com has an animated cartoon version of Green Eggs and Ham that includes music! This is a great book for kindergarten and first grade because of the many sight and rhyming words that can be found throughout the book. Making green  paper eggs, halving them, and writing rhyming words on both halves would make a fantastic center. The students could piece together the correct eggs to make a rhyme. You could introduce graphing to your students by getting the students to vote on whether they would try green eggs and ham, and making a graph of those students who would and would not try the dish.

The Cat In The Hat

The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

The Cat In The Hat is a wonderful story about two siblings who are home alone on a rainy day with nothing to do. The Cat in the Hat arrives at their home and shows the children how to have fun, mostly by making a complete mess of their home in the process! Not to worry, the Cat cleans it all up before their mother returns home! This book is appropriate for kindergarten. It is full of rhymes, and encourages children to read. This book is a must for Dr. Seuss week at school. Coloring a hat to wear with an AB pattern is fun way to incorporate math, while making a fun hat to wear like the Cat's. Including a journal prompt after reading the story would be a great way for children to practice writing while stirring up their imagination. "If the Cat in the Hat came to your house, how would you get him to leave?"

The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess  - Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko

The Paper Bag Princess is a unconventional story in which a prince is kidnapped by a fire breathing dragon, and is rescued by a princess. The princess uses her wits to rescue the prince, who ends up being ungrateful for all her efforts! How rude! This book is appropriate for lower elementary. You could incorporate a fairy tale theme in your classroom, and use a venn diagram to compare the paper bag princess to traditional princesses. You could also use a graphic organizer to organize characters, setting, problem and solution. All of these resources are available on pinterest and teacherspayteachers. You could also do a study on adjectives as there are explicit adjectives throughout the book describing the main characters. 

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink - Diane deGroat, Diane deGroat

Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink is a captivating title that just begs a reader to dive in, especially a young reader. Gilbert, the main character in the book, writes two unkind Valentine's to two of his classmates, but instead of signing his name, he signs the Valentines using their names instead! Chaos ensues, and eventually Gilbert discovers that his clever Valentine swap was really a terrible idea. Gilbert confronts the two classmates about the issues that were bothering him in the first place, and presents his peers with two new Valentines. The classmates all apologize to each other, and become friends. This is a perfect book to introduce during Valentine's. It's also a great book to introduce the concept of cause and effect. Youtube offers a seven minute video of the book being read by Heather Long that is cute. You can also talk about the beginning, middle and end in the story. 

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade - Justin Roberts, Christian Robinson

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade is a book about little Sally McCabe, who no one notices, but Sally notices everything; even things that no one else pays attention to. The book emphasizes this theme throughout its pages, finally ending the book with Sally standing up to bullies and making a huge difference in the lives of all around her, including herself! This would be a great book for kindergarten or 1st grade. There are several themes that could be introduced to the class, such as standing up for what is right, one person can make a huge difference, be kind to others, don't be a bully, etc... 

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Mouse and the Motorcycle - Beverly Cleary, Louis Darling, Tracy Dockray

The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a book about a mouse named Ralph who longs for adventure, but doesn't have much of a chance until a little boy with a toy motorcycle moves into the hotel where Ralph and his family live. The little mouse cannot resist the toy motorcycle, and embarks on an adventure that abruptly lands him in the trash. Fortunately for Ralph, the little boy discovers Ralph, and is keen on helping the mouse overcome all the obstacles his new found freedom puts him in.

This book is a great independent read for adventurous 3rd or 4th graders. Beverly Clearly is a fantastic author who struggled as a child with reading, but went on to write many successful books as an adult, including The Mouse and the Motorcycle. You could do an entire themed study on Beverly Cleary, making several of her books available to the class, and introducing them through a "book tasting", a method of introducing books to children in a fun way that gets them interested in reading. After reading their books, the students could choose from a variety of ways to present a "book report" to the class. 

Matilda

Matilda - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Matilda is a book about an extraordinary little girl who lives with an incredibly neglectful and selfish family who could care less about her existence. Despite Matilda's horrendous upbringing, she manages to find solace at school among her peers and her good-hearted teacher, Ms. Honey. Her trouble's are far from over though. The principal of the school, Ms. Trunchbull, is a big bully that terrorizes the students and faculty. Matilda discovers something truly incredible about herself along the way, and manages to find complete happiness in the end. This book would be a great independent, or class read for upper elementary students. A whole study could be done on books, turned into movies. If several books were introduced, and read, the class could vote on which book they would like to see as a movie. My pick would be Matilda. There are also several resources on teacherspayteachers that align common core literature standards to the book Matilda.

Wonder

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

Wonder is a book about a little boy named August who was born with severe facial defects. Up until the age of 10, his parents have homeschooled him. Entering a new school is difficult for most children, but the process is especially difficult for August. The book is about the challenges he faces, and how, with the support of his loving family, and some new friends at school, he is able to overcome those challenges spectacularly. The book is written in differing perspectives of various characters, which provides valuable insight as to how August views himself, as well as how others view him. This book is most appropriate for 5th grade, however, I think that the book can be read by multiple grades because of it's superb message to "Choose Kind." Everyone can use a dose of that.

In the book, one of Augusts' teachers instructs his students to come up with, or borrow, a precept, to display in the classroom. This could be implemented in your own classroom. Think of how inspiring it would be to display quotes chosen by your students in your own classroom. This would be a wonderful book to read with your class. You could also implement a class activity where children write anonymous kind words about their classmates. If you look through each of the 5th grade literature standards, you are able to cover each standard by reading the book Wonder. 

The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister, J. Alison James

The Rainbow Fish is a book about a beautiful fish who is proud of his colorful scales. There is only one problem. No one really wants to be his friend, and he is very lonely. He decides to share his scales with the other fish who are not shiny and beautiful. The more scales he shares, the less beautiful he becomes; but he becomes happy as a result because he is not lonely anymore. This book is appropriate for Kindergarten or first grade. This could be an invaluable resource to introduce the concept of sharing to the class. In the book, you could emphasize that even though the rainbow fish was a little sad to give away his scales, in the end he was much happier. If your classroom needs some artwork, this would be an excellent book to include an art project with. 

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sideways Stories From Wayside School - Louis Sachar, Adam McCauley

Sideways Stories from Wayside School is a hilarious chapter book about a school that was accidentally built 30 stories high! There are many strange incidents that occur at the school. For instance, there is a teacher who turns misbehaving children into apples! No one can figure out why her students are missing because only a good teacher would have so many apples on her desk! This book would be a great independent read for students in 3rd grade, or above. Students could complete a character study on the various wacky characters in each chapter, writing about why that character was memorable. Students could also construct a diorama of the school, turning in a book report to go along with their project. Students could use their imagination, and come up with their own wacky character from Wayside School. There are lots of possibilities with this fun book! It was a favorite book of mine growing up.