My Beautiful Birds

March 1, 2018

by Suzanne Del Rizzo

Click for more information on this title

Syrian Civil War.



Will there be safety?


Sami’s Syrian town is bombed and his family flees to a refugee camp.  They have to walk night and day and night again before they get to the tents of the refugee camp.  There they remain while Sami struggles with his emotions and continuously fearful for his pet pigeons, which his father says escaped the bombed city.

Read to find how Sami deals with his inner turmoil as he and his family lives at the refugee camp.


For further discussion questions, check out this link:



The Noisy Paint Box

May 10, 2016

by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by Mary Grandpre

Award Alert: Caldecott Honor 2014

During Dr. Seuss week I used this book on Wacky Wednesday to teach about abstract art, an idea that some think of as “wacky.”  Having earned the Caldecott Honor, the illustrations vividly paint a portrait of Kandinsky and his journey to creating abstract art.

Supplement this book with examples of Kandinsky’s abstract art as well as other abstract artists.

Use this book to teach

  • Onomatopoeia
  • Synonyms

See other lesson ideas here from the publisher.

  • Using Senses
  • Writing Descriptively
  • Phonemic Awareness — listen for the /b/ and /p/ sounds
  • Syllables

The Typewriter

April 28, 2016

The Typewriter

by Bill Thomson

Wordless picture book author/illustrator Bill Thompson (author of Chalk and Fossil) is at it again.  This time the kids in the story come across an old typewriter.  When they put paper in it and write, the words come to life.

Add this to your must-use wordless picture books!

This book is also great to teach:

  • Cause and Effect
  • Beginning, Middle, and End
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Description through illustrations
  • Sequencing (using illustrations only)


Capstone Press: A Primary Source History Series

February 23, 2016

Primary Source History

Capstone Publishing has an excellent new nonfiction series showing how researchers incorporate primary sources into their writing.

Quoted on the Table of Contents of each book: “Primary sources are newspaper articles, photographs, speeches, or other documents that were created during an event.  They are great ways to see how people spoke and felt during that time.  You’ll find primary sources…throughout this book.  Within the text [of the book], primary source quotations are colored red and set in italic type.”

With instruction, students begin to see how nonfiction authors incorporate primary sources into their writing.  Lessons can surround how the primary sources add to the understanding of new information and feel of nonfiction writing.

Primary Source History books in the Lowell library:

  • Slavery in the United States
  • Dust Bowl
  • Westward Expansion
  • U.S. Independence
  • Gold Rush
  • American Revolution
  • War of 1812
  • U.S.  Civil War

These topics touch fourth and fifth grade social studies standards.
Meets the Common Core State Standards for analyzing multiple accounts of an event.

Neighborhood Sharks

December 10, 2015

Neighborhood Sharks

by Katherine Roy

Book Blurb: Presents information on the great white sharks who live in the waters around the Farallon Islands near San Francisco, including information about their physical characteristics, behaviors, hunting activities, and habitat.


Here are some great resources on how to incorporate Neighborhood Sharks as a mentor text for your nonfiction writing unit:

This activity addresses Common Core Standards RI.2.3, RI.2.6 / RI.3.8 / RI.4.3
Farallon Island Food Chain Graphic Organizer:

This activity addresses Common Core Standards: RL.2.3, RI.2.1, RI.2.7, RL.3.4, RI.3.1, RI.3.7
From the same website, here’s an idea to use this nonfiction book as a starting point to write similes.