May 23, 2013


by Henry Cole

This wordless picture book depicts the story of a young girl living on a farm in Virginia with her grandparents during the Civil War.  The pictures begin by showing Confederate soldiers at the farm either looking for escaped slaves or looking for food to eat.  Later on we see the young girl getting potatoes from the barn cellar for dinner that evening when she hears rustling in the cellar.  It turns out there is an escaped slave (presumably a girl) hiding in their cellar.  It is illegal to house escaped slaves, and the soldiers return offering a reward looking for ths particular slave.  Will the young girl disclose the escapee’s hiding place, or will she allow the escapee to continue her path north towards freedom?

It would be a great upper elementary read-aloud, think-aloud book when discussing how illustrations connect to the text, or how one can infer much just by examining the illustrations.  It would also be a great addition to a Civil War unit after students have built some schema on the Civil War and slavery.  They could write the words to this book as a class activity!

Comprehension Strategies: Determining Importance, Inferring, Synthesizing (as there are no words, my thoughts were constantly changing trying to make a cohesive story)

Topics: Civil War, Slavery, Escaped Slaves, Doing What’s Right vs. Doing What’s Lawful


Each Kindness

March 19, 2013

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson teaches kids about kindness–how each kindess ripples out bigger and bigger.

Now it’s your turn to tell about a kindness you have done.

Day 1:  Think about a time you did something kind for someone.  Remember this doesn’t have to be something HUGE.  The smallest kindnesses sometimes make the biggest differences!

  • What did you do?
  • Why did you do it?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • How did it change something for the person who received the kindness.

Try and write at least 5 sentences about your experience.

The Tortoise OR the Hare

October 11, 2012

The Tortoise or the Hare
by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison

Cover image for The tortoise or the hare

What a lovely switch to the usual tale of the Tortoise AND the Hare.  Yes, the animals still race.  Yes, the Hare is still the fast one and the Tortoise is the slow one.  BUT, it’s NOT the Tortoise who wins.  The authors highlight that the town didn’t like either of the two characters because they flaunted how good they were at their respective strength: Tortoise–thinking, Hare–speed.  The moral at the end is also different.  You’ve got to check this one out!

Possible Lessons: Compare/Contrast to original tale, Character Traits (older grades), Morals/Fables

Comprehension Strategies: Metacognition, Determining Importance, Synthesizing, Questioning

Those Shoes

October 9, 2012

Those Shoes
by Maribeth Boelts

Publisher Notes: Jeremy, who longs to have the black high tops that everyone at school seems to have but his grandmother cannot afford, is excited when he sees them for sale in a thrift shop and decides to buy them even though they are the wrong size.

Comprehension Strategies: Connections, Schema, Asking Questions, Inferring, Predicting, Determining Importance, Synthesizing

Lesson Ideas: Poverty, Acceptance, Peer Pressure, Friendship, Empathy

Writing Traits: Conventions (punctuating dialogue), Personal Narrative