Counting on Katherine

September 10, 2018

Counting on Catherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13
by Helaine Becker

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Blurb: From Katherine‘s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of an American icon who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives.

Want to make a case about precise computing? Read an excerpt of this book to your students about the importance of Katherine’s math being precise or people would die in space!

This harrowing biography of how Katherine Johnson, an unsung hero, helped the Americans in the Space Race shows just how important minorities were to the effort.

My favorite quote, from Katherine Johnson herself, comes from the back papers: “Despite her many achievements, Katherine never liked to take any credit.  Her reason? ‘Because we always work as a team,’ she says. ‘ it was never just one person.'”

This book is for:

  • space enthusiasts
  • mathematicians
  • biographies highlighting otherwise unsung people of history
  • February — Black History month
  • Women’s History month
  • Context Clues: use the page about “all of the computers were women” to have students figure out what the author means by “computers” (people, not machines)
  • goal setting
  • reaching one’s potential, despite setbacks

Check it out at your local library! ISBN 9781250137524


A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

October 26, 2017

by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

The dust jacket description says: “The whole world is filled with big, enormous, gigantic, humongous, incredible numbers.  Look all around you.  You can see them in the sky, and in the grass, and in the forest, and in the ocean, and in the city.  They are even in the pages of this book, just waiting for you–and your one and only imagination.”

Math teachers! This books shows HUGE numbers in both numeric and word form.  It would be a great extension for any lesson teaching about large numbers and how to properly say them.

The back of the book teaches how to read such large numbers (most lessons only go to the millions or billions, but this book goes to the billion trillions — 21 zeros behind the number!)

Money Math: Addition and Subtraction

October 26, 2017

by David A Adler
illustrated by Edward Miller

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The book itself is a story and lesson built into one!  Any teacher looking to introduce how to add and subtract money, this book is your lesson!

David A Adler teaches the reader about the different dollars and coins used in the United States.  He then shows how counting change really is just addition.  He even gives the readers tasks to complete on various pages.  The answers are given at the end of the book.

If you are looking to change up the way you teach money in a new and exciting way, Adler’s book is one you MUST check out!

Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens

October 25, 2017

by Kara Hagedorn

Image result for hawk mother the story of a red tailed hawk who hatched chickens

A heart-warming story of how an injured hawk, no longer able to fly due to a gunshot and broken wing! Sunshine (the Hawk) lays infertile eggs every spring and still attempts to hatch them.  Each year her caretaker, Kara (the author), takes the eggs away which confuses Sunshine.  One year Kara gets an idea and gets chicken eggs from her neighbor.  Sunshine sits on those eggs as if they are her own, hatches them, and then raises the chicks as her own young.

For readers who love Little Pink Pup, Owen and Mzee, and other books that celebrate relationships of unlikely animals, you will love reading this nonfiction picture book.

Daytime Nighttime All Through the Year

October 25, 2017

by Diane Lang
illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

Daytime Nighttime book cover featuring a cougar and squirrels on a branch

Teach about the months of the year? This book is for you!

Teach about nocturnal animals? This book is for you!

Love books written in rhyme?  You got it…this one is for you!
(And this book’s rhyme is not forced!)

Just love animals?  You’ve got to read this book!


Daytime, Nighttime, All Through the Year shows two animals each month: one that is active during the day and one that is active during the night.  It shows the animals’ habits during those months, highlighting important things these animals do in each season.  Unfortunately there are different animals each month, so there isn’t an opportunity to compare and contrast what a specific animal does during each season.

This book would be a great read aloud when learning months of the year or animal habits.  It is just a perfect book to share with animal lovers!

There is an Explore More section at the back of the book with fun activities for teachers and parents

  • Match animals with the activities they do (that they learned from reading the book)
  • Teachable Moments section
    • teaches diurnal and nocturnal vocabulary
    • animal adaptations
    • family activities for nocturnal extensions



Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

September 27, 2017

by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by Katy Wu

Image result for grace hopper queen of computer code activities

Grace was a curious girl, exploring how clocks work by taking them apart and putting them back together again.  That curiosity and tensity continued into college where she took courses in physics and math while other women were taking courses called “Husbands and Wives” and “Motherhood.”  She continued to persevere until she convinced the Navy to enlist her even though she didn’t meet the age and weight requirements at the time.  Good thing they did, too!  Grace went on to write computer code that no one else had done, and fix problems that no one could seem to solve.

BUG! This term is known in the computer science world for a mistake in the program’s code.  In this book, the author shows how Grace Hopper and her colleagues actually found a bug inside their computer which cause a switch to malfunction.  Even since then, computer glitches have been called bugs!

At one point in the book Grace needs to pass Latin (she had a failing grade) in order to go to college.  Briefly, this book shows the hard work she does in order to accomplish something she didn’t like to get to her dream of going to college.

Check out this PDF for some discussion questions and extension activities to do with this book.

*Timeline activity in the PDF link above.

How to Survive as a Firefly

September 11, 2017

How to Survive as a Firefly
by Kristen Foote
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo

Image result for how to survive as a firefly

Did you know that fireflies only live as adults for 5-30 days?

Drill Sergeant Firefly is tasked with teaching the firefly larvae all they need to know to survive their life cycle.  And he must accomplish this task quickly, before he dies.

Told in a comical dialogue, readers learn about metamorphosis, the firefly life cycle, bioluminescence, and everything you could possibly want to know about fireflies!

Looking for a way to spice up your how tos?

Looking for a possible project using coding, incorporating life cycles?

Looking for a mentor text that shows a comical voice?

Just looking for a good read?

This is the book for you!


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