Please welcome my guest poster today, author Elsa Marston who is my resident Middle Eastern Children’s literature go to! She has a list of recommended books for kids and teens at the bottom of the post.
Lately we’ve been reading about terrorist actions by Muslims in Europe and other places, events that have again raised anger and confusion. Are Muslims really committed to hostility toward other religions? Or do most Muslims want to find common ground and live together with non-Muslims, without fear or threats? Read more…
Fourth grade at my elementary school marks a really interesting immigration unit that introduced my kids to their first group project experience. They learned, the hard way, about freeloaders but the end result was a “Wax Museum” where each child played a wax statue that, when prompted by dropping in a fake coin in a bucket, recited a speech about life as a new immigrant. Each group chose a different country to emigrate from that included Poland, Ireland, Italy, China, Japan and more. They also created a Wax Museum display bulletin board that talked about the immigrant experience from their country. What was most noticeable was how every, single group talked about the racism and prejudice they faced upon coming to America.
It seems that in fourth grade, kids are starting to really develop empathy skills so historical fiction about immigration or the mistreatment of dogs moves them deeply. I’ve included the books that my kids remember reading as part of a classroom assignment or as a read aloud in 4th grade and added a few of my favorites. My son just started 4th grade this year, so I will keep track of his classroom read alouds and will add them to this list all year.
Please share your ideas for 4th grade read alouds. Thank you! Read more…
I chose a collection of some of my favorite chapter books and picture books for second grade read alouds. Truth be told, I don’t really remember exactly what books my kids were read to in the classroom during 2nd grade. For some reason, it’s drawing a blank at our house.
Second grade at our elementary school is memorable for foreign country unit. The kids study China, Ghana and Mexico. I have the Red Envelope Crafts project (can also be used for Chinese New Year) that I presented for my son’s class, and the Mexican Crafts Party (can also be used for Cinco de Mayo). Read more…
My book list of Top 10 Books to Teach Kids to Be More Responsible made me start to think about life skills that kids need before going off to college. That and the fact that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, will be starting high school next fall so we have only 4 years to tackle this list!
What are the life skills that you think kids need before leaving the nest? Do you remember struggling with any life skills while in college? Please share! Read more…
I searched five years of digital photographs looking for photos of my kids reading and I only came up with the handful here. Why? It’s not easy getting kids reading, especially to love reading enough that they choose it over more exciting things like screens, playdates or sports!
I started my blog after my oldest had a bad year in first grade. She was a reluctant reader who hated the performance aspect of reading out loud. My second child who is academic preferred less “sitty” past times than reading. She never stops moving so it’s hard to pin her down to read. My son much prefers screens to anything else in life so it’s a challenge to get him to exchange a book for a screen.
Over the years, I have tried EVERYTHING to get my kids to love reading. And that might be the key to eventual success. There is no magic bullet but effort counts. And now, I’m happy to report that my oldest (Grasshopper and Sensei), now in 8th grade, is a voracious reader. By 3rd grade we had turned the corner enough so that she started posting on her favorite chapter books. Read more…
I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie).
Colby Sharp, one of The Nerdy Book Club founders, mentioned that he was teaching third grade this year, a move from years spent teaching fourth grade and I got very excited because I have a son in third grade! Quickly and not surprisingly, we started talking about perfect third grade read aloud books. And the weird thing is that my son’s teacher had read all three perfect third grade books that Colby mentioned! And in that exact order! Great minds think alike?!
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate Read more…
A reader asked me for a list of picture books appropriate for 4th and 5th grade. I wasn’t sure myself. Sure, there are advanced picture books but does the list have to hit the Core Curriculum agenda? Don’t 4th and 5th graders want to read solely chapter books, having left picture books behind in 1st or 2nd grade?
So I searched the internet. I found teachers in 4th and 5th grade sharing their favorite picture books and this gave me the courage to add to their list with my own. I do think picture books are for everyone. And my final observation is how my middle school aged daughters will sidle into my bedroom when I’m reading a picture book to my 3rd grader (who only will read picture books when I force him to or when he’s left his chapter book at school mistakenly) and everyone will enjoy the story. Even if you have to use stealth to get picture books in front of older kids, it’s well worth it!
My list is a little heavy on Patricia Polacco and Jacqueline Woodson, but they are birds of a feather. Each shares their personal stories that resonate to include all of us. Eve Bunting has the gift of telling other people’s stories with great sensitivity as if they were her own history. Emily Arnold McCully tells stories that quietly inspire.
What is your favorite picture books for 5th Grade or 4th grade? Please share and I’ll add to the list!
Holocaust Picture Books for Kids
I have 34 Haunting Holocaust Books for Kids including picture books, chapter books and graphic novels but I chose these two for 5th grade. PickyKidPix touched on the Holocaust in 5th grade last year.
The Cats of Krasinki Square by Karen Hesse
Can cats outsmart the Gestapo? In Warsaw during WWII, the Gestapo have forced all Jewish men, women and children into a ghetto where they are being ravished through disease and starvation. Those who can escape and pass for Aryan must use their ingenuity to find a way to bring food to their friends. The cats of Krasinki Square can help outfox the Gestapo. In this story of courage amid horrific inhumanity, Hesse celebrates the Jewish Resistance and the cats who helped as well.
Best Books for Beginning Readers
My pubic library creates a great list for summer reading and this is the list I need for my rising 2nd grader. My library doesn’t like Scholastic beginning chapter book series like Ninjago, Rainbow Fairies, Hiro Quest, or My Weird School. My kids’ first grade teacher does not love them either. Finding really good easy chapter book is tough which is probably why this list is so short. It’s culled from mostly newly published books. Read more…