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The Mitten Board Book Edition - Jan Brett

The Mitten tells the story of a little boy who, despite being warned by his grandmother, loses one of the mittens she made for him. With it being winter time, animals will do just about anything to keep warm. Before you know it, many animals, including a mouse, a skunk, a fox, an owl, and even a bear, try to pile into the glove to keep warm. But how far can that mitten stretch before it breaks? And will the little boy ever be able to find his mitten before he returns home to his grandmother? This story was written by Jan Brett, and it has a Lexile reading level of 800L. It best serves the purpose of teaching sequencing, predicting, and how to retell a story. In my classroom, I would give students diverse sized paper mittens that they could color and decorate. In the smallest one, they would write the first animal that went into the mitten. On the next size mitten, they would write the second animal. Students would continue this until they reach the biggest mitten size, where they will write all the animals seen in the book. They would then take all their mittens, and they could staple them together on the side to create their own little story book based on Brett’s story.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond

Laura Numeroff’s tale If You Give a Pig a Pancake is a classic story of a little girl who tries to accommodate the whims of one demanding little pig. The pig begins with some pancakes, and from there she finds herself in need of syrup. After using the syrup, she gets a little sticky and needs to take a bath. For her bath, she needs some bubbles and bath toys. Many more events take place from here with the pig needing one thing after another. This book’s Lexile reading level is 570L, and it does an excellent job at helping students practice sequencing and predicting. In my classroom, I would use this book to practice reading fluency with my students. There is a printable script that you can download online, so I would allow students to form groups of two to read this script. Each member in the group would draw a fluency stick that has a different voice to use when reading. Students will then practice reading the story in those voices to develop their fluency.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a childhood classic written by Dr. Seuss. It is a motivational story geared toward any individual who is on their way to beginning a new chapter in their life. It is the perfect book to award to anyone you are doing a sendoff for. This book’s Lexile reading level is AD600L, and it can be read by children or adults of any age. For my classroom, it would be great to give each student a copy of the book at the end of the year, especially when they may be graduating from kindergarten or even fifth grade. I think this is the perfect way to offer your students a piece of encouragement for their future years to come. In my family, we gave a copy to two of my cousins when they graduated high school and joined the military. We passed it around the family and each of us wrote a special note on a page of our own to tell them how much we loved them and how we knew they had such a bright future ahead of them. This book is the perfect way to show how much you care, whether it be for members of your family or for your students! In terms of analyzing this book in the classroom, students could look at the rhymes used throughout the book. This would be a delightful book to use for a poetry lesson.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of distinguishing between what is morally right and wrong. The book is set during the time of the Great Depression, and it is told from the perspective of a little girl called Scout. Her father, Atticus Finch, is asked to be the attorney for an African American male who is being convicted of raping a white woman. Scout learns some of the true realities of racism throughout the course of the novel as their family receives many threats for her father representing this man. Ultimately, the moral of the story explains to all readers that we must always try to do the right thing, no matter what the outcome may be, as opposed to standing by and watching dreadful things happen to innocent people. The book’s Lexile reading level is 790L, and it is recommended to be read by students in fifth grade and up. In my classroom, I would want my students to do a scrapbook activity for this book. In each chapter, I would assign them a specific project to do. For example, students could create their own bookmark to start the book. On the bookmark, they could write character names, or draw pictures of the beginning setting. Students would complete each assignment for each chapter, and add their finished product into their scrapbook. At the end of the book reading, students would turn their scrapbooks in for a grade, but they would also present their work to the class. Each book will be unique to each individual student.

The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was written during the period of World War II. Anne Frank was a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl whose family fled their home to hide from the Nazis who were occupying nearby territories. Her family lived in an attic for years hiding from the Gestapo who would seize them if they were to be found. Eventually, their whereabouts were betrayed, but Anne’s diary was found in that attic where it has become a world classic in history. The book’s Lexile reading level is 1080L. This would definitely be a book read no earlier than about fifth grade. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book when I was growing up. It opened my eyes to the horrors of our world’s history, and it showed me so much more than a school textbook ever could. In my classroom, I would use this book to discuss historical events that occurred during World War II. Students would be assigned this book to read, and I would want them to complete a research project on this particular time period. Students could write an essay, create a Prezi presentation, or draw a picture book to explain events that occurred. They could complete this from different perspectives, such as that of an American soldier, a German soldier, or maybe a Jewish child or adult. I would really want my students to dive into the historical information from this time period so they could connect with the history that took place.

Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein wrote a vast collection of poems comprised in his book Where the Sidewalk Ends. There is no main plot line for the whole book, only that there are many different poems to read. The book’s Lexile reading level is classified as NP, or non-prose. It has this classification simply because the book is comprised mainly of poems, and most of the text in the book is never in complete sentences. This book is a childhood classic for many students, so I feel like it has great benefits when added to the classroom setting. In my classroom, we could read one poem at the beginning of each day. Students could analyze that poem to figure out what type of poem it is and what its meaning might be. This would be something we could enjoy doing throughout the school year! From this, students could also practice writing their own poems in their writing journals.

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy was written by Christopher Paul Curtis and is the story of a little boy trying to find his place in a world where he does not know his own father. His mother died when he was younger, but he never knew his father at all. Bud grew up in the foster care system, bouncing from one foster home to the next. To Bud, it seemed as though no one would ever want him. However, this little boy has got some wits about him to be so young. He is sent to a new foster family that ends up locking him in their shed for the night. Bud’s imagination gets the best of him when he thinks there might be vampires in there, and he ends up swinging a bat at a hornet’s nest. He finds a way to bust out of the shed, torn up by multiple hornet stings, and runs away to go on his own adventure. It is quite dangerous for Bud to be striking out on his own, but he sets off on a journey to find his father. This book’s Lexile reading level is 950L, and it is recommended for students in higher grades such as fourth or fifth. One of the things that Bud constantly talks about throughout the novel is his “Rules and Things for a Funner Life”. I would want my students to brainstorm some ideas and create a list for this. However, instead of doing “Rules and Things for a Funner Life”, we could do “Rules and Things for a Funner [Classroom]”. I would read this book at the beginning of the school year with my students and we could create our classroom rules for the year based on these lists.

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree is a classic book by Shel Silverstein about a little boy who befriends a tree. The tree loved him so much that she was willing to give him anything he wanted. As the little boy is young and still growing up, he spends so much time with the tree. However, the older he gets, the less time he spends with it. Eventually, the only time that he visits the tree is because he needs something. The tree is always willing to give him whatever it is he needs. This book tells the powerful story of how people tend to take things for granted. We ask and ask for things in the world to try and make ourselves happy, but in the end, it is the simple things that matter the most. This book’s Lexile reading level is 530L, and I believe it can be read in any elementary school grades. Different age groups will develop a different understanding for the book, which is always interesting to listen to. In my classroom, I would want us to create our own giving tree. The students will each be given at least two leaves. On one leaf, they must write the characteristics of a giving person. On the other leaf, they can write the name of a person in their life that has always been giving to them. They must also write at least one example of how that person is giving. These leaves will be used to decorate our class tree, and it will serve as a reminder for my class to always be a giving person.

Charlotte's Web - E.B. White, Garth Williams, Rosemary Wells

A teacher can never go wrong with introducing E.B. White’s classic novel, Charlotte’s Web, to the classroom. It is the story of a little pig who is the runt of its litter but is rescued by the farmer’s daughter, Fern. She takes responsibility for the pig and decides to raise it herself. Growing ever so fond of the little pig, Fern decides to name him Wilbur. Eventually, Wilbur grows up to be a regular sized pig, but he is forced to go live at the Zuckerman’s home when Fern’s parents tell her she can no longer take care of him like a baby. Fern still visits him every day at his new farm home. On the farm, Wilbur makes many new friends, but discovers frightening news that he will be sent to the slaughterhouse by Christmas. It is up to him and his newest acquaintance, Charlotte, to save his life. Charlotte is the sweetest spider that Wilbur has ever encountered, and she plans to save his life by weaving words about Wilbur into her web. She acts not only as a friend, but also as a mother figure to Wilbur when Fern does not come and visit as often. The book’s Lexile reading level is 680L, and it is best read and understood by children in third grade and up. One activity that I want to incorporate into my classroom for this book would be a sight word spider web. We could read this book in the beginning of the school year, and create a spider web in one corner of the classroom. Throughout the year, we could add words into the web that are important sight words for the students to remember. This would be a great visual for all students!

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s novel The Graveyard Book tells the story of a little boy named Nobody Owens, or “Bod” for short, who was not raised under normal circumstances. After wandering from his crib in the middle of the night as a baby, he unknowingly escapes from a murderer in his house. The murderer is still on the loose throughout the course of the novel, and he is in search of Bod. While he is growing up, he is raised in a graveyard by ghosts who educate him on how to protect himself from the man who is out to kill him. You may be thinking by this point: why would anyone consider this to be a children’s book? Surprisingly enough, the book is an amazing story for young readers! Bod demonstrates courage throughout the novel, never allowing the man who wants to kill him to succeed with the job. The book’s Lexile reading level is 820L, and it is recommended to be read by students in higher grades like fourth and fifth grade. In my classroom, I would want students to form book groups to read the novel. I would want each student in the group to have a job to do with the book, and each group would get to engage in their own discussions about what they think. I would also want the students to analyze how Gaiman appeals to his reader’s senses through his strategic use of imagery.

Are You My Mother? - P.D. Eastman

Are You My Mother? is another classic story by P.D. Eastman that tells about a baby bird who hatches out of its egg, only to find its mother nowhere in sight. It must venture out of its nest, into a world that it does not know at all, to reunite with its mother. The baby bird goes up to every creature and object that comes into its contact and asks the simple question: are you my mother? Of course, all the responses are no. To any other baby bird, this might get incredibly discouraging. However, this baby bird never gives up hope on finding whoever its mother may be! This book’s Lexile reading level is 80L, and it would mainly be considered for beginning readers. Most of the words in the book are simple sight words, and students could easily look at the pictures to do a retell of the story if they struggled to read. One thing this book would be great in teaching is sequencing. Students could figure out the order of who the baby bird asks first is its mother, and make a list from there. You could also create an anchor chart to compare and contrast things that the baby bird might or might not have in common with each creature or object it encounters. This could turn into a wonderful science lesson for students to learn about birds!

Go, Dog. Go! - P.D. Eastman

Go, Dog. Go! is a classic tale by P.D. Eastman. It is the story of multiple dogs who do different things, such as drive a car, ride on scooters, and wear different hats. They are also in different places, such as a house, at work, or in a tree. There is really no main plot to this story, but there are so many different teaching elements to it. The book’s Lexile reading level is simply BR because it is for beginning readers. The words are simple sight words that are talked about in preschool and mainly kindergarten. A perfect way to use this book would be when teaching prepositions and prepositional phrases. There are many different examples throughout the book that the teacher could point out to students. This would also be a great book to use to teach setting. This book has multiple settings throughout each page, so this would give students a chance to see how the setting in a book can frequently change. I would have students do a scavenger hunt within the book to identify prepositions with their prepositional phrases, and also the multiple settings. For beginning readers, you could teach students about their colors and numbers, especially with the first few pages of this book.

The Three Ninja Pigs - Corey Rosen Schwartz, Dan Santat

The Three Ninja Pigs is a primary example of a fractured fairytale, and it is written by Corey Rosen Schwartz. If your students really enjoy the story of the three little pigs, they are sure to love this modern version with ninja pigs! The three pigs attend a Dojo where they train to fight the big bad wolf. In the end, it is the ultimate showdown between the ninja pigs with their quick moves and the wolf with his stealth. The book’s Lexile reading level is AD630L, but I believe children of all ages from kindergarten to fifth grade would enjoy this modern spin. This would be a book that I would use to discuss fractured fairytales in the classroom. I would first read students the original version of The Three Little Pigs, and then I would read this book along with a couple of others for students to see the difference. I would then organize the students into their own book groups to do a study on fractured fairytales. I would assign each group an original tale, such as Little Red Riding Hood or Cinderella, and then give them fractured fairytale books to read and compare with. We could then organize a class book fair, where students in their group would present their original story and show the class examples of fractured fairytales that go along with the original.

Library Lion - Michelle Knudsen, Kevin Hawkes

Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen, is the perfect story to introduce manners of the library to your students. This book's Lexile reading level is 470L, and it would be of the greatest benefit to preschoolers or kindergartners. The central focus of the story is on this lion who ventures into the library one day. The librarian, Miss Merriweather, is strict when it comes to following the rules in the library. When the lion wanders in, most people are panicking about the fact that a lion is walking around. Miss Merriweather tells everyone that he is only allowed to stay as long as he follows the rules. The library must be quiet at all times, and there is no running allowed. The lion proves to be of big help to the librarian and all of the people working there. His big feet are surprisingly quiet on the library floor, and he loves to be a comfy backrest for all of the children who come for story hour. He always makes sure that he is following the rules, but one day an emergency happens. Readers must ask themselves: are there good reasons to sometimes break the rules? This story would be perfect to read to preschoolers or kindergartners who have never been to the library before. It shows the rules that most libraries require students to follow, but it also helps them see that sometimes it is okay to break those rules when emergencies happen. I would read this book to my students before they took a trip to the library during the first few days of school. We could talk about the rules and mannerisms of the library, and then we could all take a class field trip to explore it together!

There is a Bird on Your Head! - Mo Willems

In another one of Mo Willem’s classic tales, There is a Bird on Your Head!, Piggie and Elephant are back again, but this time they have got trouble! A bird has decided to land on Elephant’s head, and it does not look like it will be leaving anytime soon. The first bird is joined by another bird, those birds make a nest, and before Elephant knows it, he’s got three baby birds on his head! But how can he make them go away? This book’s Lexile reading level is 210L, and it would be great for younger readers in preschool or kindergarten. This story would be great to talk about sequencing with students. You could print out pictures that are descriptive of the text, and allow students to put the pictures in the order in which they occur. This book is one that teachers should try and be theatrical with. Because it is a simple book to read and understand, teachers should really be over-the-top in how they read the story so it could be more entertaining for students. I would suggest maybe using some puppets to read, or making different expressions in your vocal tones.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? - Mo Willems

Mo Willem’s book, Should I Share My Ice Cream?, is a classic tale of contemplation by the main character, Elephant. On one hot day, he decides to go set some ice cream for himself. However, Elephant wonders if he should keep the ice cream to himself. Why not share his ice cream with his best friend, Piggie? He contemplates for the longest time about what he should do, but does he wait too long? After all, it does not take ice cream long to melt down! This book’s Lexile reading level is 180L, and it would be something that younger students in preschool or kindergarten would enjoy. In the classroom, this book would be great to talk about sharing with friends. Students could brainstorm items that would be good to share with their friends, and maybe some items that would not be such a good idea to share. The students could then have a day where they bring an item to class that they would like to share with friends, and one item they want to show but keep to themselves.