Welcome to Show Me The BOOKS!

Welcome to Show me the BOOKS! A blog about literature for elementary school students. All posts include a summary, a citation, and teaching suggestions along with websites for lesson extension or references. Please explore and comment!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a novel that depicts life during the Nazi invasion on Denmark. Annemarie and her family help a Jewish family escape from Denmark for a better life. The story exemplifies the horror and extreme secrecy that had to be kept in order to help the Jews escape and be free. It is a story of bravery and of challenging times.
This is a compelling story about the courage one must have to save a life, other than your own. Annemarie's character is one who many people can relate to in similar situations. This is an inspirational story of a loving family who does all they can to save their friends. 
Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. 1989. Reprint. New York: Laurel Leaf, 1998. Print.

Teaching Suggestions for Number the Stars
  • Before reading, discuss the holocaust, and the Nazi invasion and search for Jews. Discuss common terms such as, holocaust, concentration camps, Denmark, synagogue,etc.Introduce the story of Number the Stars and the content. 
  • During reading, draw comparisons to Catch a Tiger by the Toe, and the limitations held upon the Communist party just like the Jewish groups in Denmark. Draw attention to Annemarie and the similarities between her and the character Jamie Morse. Ask content related questions, while reading to monitor comprehension.
  • After reading, have students compare and contrast the situation and characters between this book at Catch a Tiger by the Toe. Provide a reflection in the reader's journal. 
Supplemental Websites for Number the Stars
Holocaust Information for Kids! This website provides information about the holocaust including definitions and other sources especially for kids!
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Provides historical information about the holocaust. You can access exhibitions and extras to share with your students.

Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side by Raymond Bial

Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side is a non fiction text that focuses on the migration of many Europeans into the United States in search for a better life. Little did they know what waited for them. The only living accommodation many immigrants could get for their families was a Tenement.Families living in tenements dealt with buildings so close together creating dark alley ways, and no yard or green areas for children to play. Families were forced to share living spaces, and bathrooms.This text is an eye opening account of immigrant life in tenements and the limitations it forced upon them. It is depressing to think of people living in such conditions, but it is important to identify the struggles immigrants had coming to and starting new life in America.
Bial, Raymond. Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Print

Teaching Suggestions for Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side
This text could be used as additional reference in a social studies class for upper elementary grade students learning about the United States History. 
  • Before reading, discuss the term Immigrant. Have students discuss who immigrants were, and provide information on what immigrants provided for our country. Discuss the terms: tenement, poverty, discrimination, destitute, dynamic, Tenement House Act, unjust, unventilated, etc. 
  • During reading, pause every so often to discuss as a class the situation of the immigrants. Have students provide examples from the text to support their positions. Encourage students to develop connections or to put themselves in the position of the immigrant and encourage them to keep their thoughts and opinions while they read so that they can further develop their position. Some questions you may ask: Did the immigrants have any other choice? If you were in this position would you consider returning to your mainland? etc.
  • After reading, have a whole class discussion on the information presented in the book. Have students reflect upon the Tenement House Act. Have the students write a response to these questions: What is your opinion of the Tenement House Act? Do you think this act should have been established earlier? How do you think the tenets felt? How would you have felt living in such conditions? Explain your thoughts. 

Supplemental Websites for Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side
  • Tenement Museum this website has some historical information on the living conditions in Tenements. You can also use this site to potentially plan a field trip for a tour of a tenement. 
  • Interactive Lesson for 3-4th grade presented by the Kennedy Center "Arts Edge" there is an interactive lesson guide:"Understanding Tenement Life"

Underwear: What we Wear Under There by Ruth Freeman Swain, Illustrated by John O'Brien

Underwear: What We Wear Under There is cute non-fiction account of the history of underwear. It provides a look at underwear from the ancient times and how it has developed throughout the years until present time. All explanations include a brief historical perspective on the reasoning behind the use of underwear, the use of material and many other aspects. The illustrations on every page help reinforce the topics and provide picture clues to what some of the vocabulary used, means. This easy reader for third graders is an engaging piece of literature that shares fun facts of history on a topic that any child can relate to.

Swain, Ruth Freeman. Underwear: What We Wear Under There. New York: Holiday House, 2008. Print.
Teaching Suggestions for Underwear: What We Wear Under There 
This text can be used as a read aloud for a third grade or any upper elementary grade classroom. Using the time line provided at the end of the book could be a great aid for demonstrating how history can be organized.
  • Before reading, ask students how they think underwear or any other piece of clothing (or common good used by all) was invented. Have students discuss whole class and share their views on the topic. Apply the processes they may share to other goods or manufacturing processes. Introduce the book and review a few vocabulary terms they may be unaware of: loincloths, tunic, kimono. Most other terms have in text definition, those can be tackled when read. 
  • During reading, point out the details that help support the fact or topic during that time period. Explain to students that when writing a story or a historical account it is important to have supporting details so that the point is made for readers. 
  • After reading, have students create a time line of their lives; from their first memory to presently. Have students record any triumphs, challenges, etc on their time lines. Later, they can create a fun story about their lives, mimicking the style of Underwear: What We Wear Under There.

Supplemental Websites for Underwear: What We Wear Under There
  • How to Make a Time Line  This  website provides step by step instructions on making a time line that you can refer to and alter to provide your students with directions!
  • Google: Timelines for... Use the google search engine and search "Timelines for (whatever topic you like) and examples will show up of timelines. These examples can be shown to students for reference. 

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli is a story of courage in standing up for what you believe in. Palmer LaRue is about to turn ten years old and in his community, that means he's ready to become a wringer at the annual Family Fest. However, this is not his dream. He does not want to become a pigeon wringer what so ever. Throughout the story he struggles with acceptance by a group of boys who claim to be his friends, but who Palmer realizes, will not respect him if he doesn't become a Wringer. Palmer is faced with a test in which he has to decide whether he stands up for what he believes in, or conforms because he wants to be part of a group of friends. Palmer also faces the pressure of continuing a tradition among the men in his family. It's up to Palmer to make his choice, and to choose wisely.

Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. New York: HarperTeen, 2004. Print.
Teaching Suggestions for Wringer
  • Before reading, introduce the text by having students brainstorm what a Wringer is. Once their brains are thinking up enough examples, explain to students what a Wringer is. Introduce the vocabulary associated with the text: wringer, sharpshooter, carcass, misery, traitor, violence, machine gunner, etc. 
  • During reading, have students complete a character analysis on Palmer's character. Provide an organizer or format to scaffold student's analysis. Ask students: what challenges is Palmer facing? Is he changing who he is to feel included? How is Palmer reacting to the situation? etc. Establish personal connections from students to the text by asking (when appropriate): do you like pigeons? Could you picture having a pigeon as a pet? What associations can you make from pigeons? How would you take care of a pigeon? Would you tell your parents?
  • After reading, review the story (whole class) by a quick retelling using the character analysis to guide discussion. Discuss Palmer and what made him be/act the way he did. Why didn't he just come right out and say he didn't want to be a wringer? What challenges did he face because of it? Could Palmer have easily changed what was coming, if so how? After whole class discussion have students individually reflect on these questions in their reader's journal.
Supplemental Websites for Wringer 
Both websites linked above are informational resources on pigeons! Students can research fun facts about pigeons and maybe change their minds of how they feel about them!

Tierra Del Fuego by Peter Lourie

Tierra Del Fuego by Peter Lourie is a non fiction account of Peter's journey to the Tierra Del Fuego discovered by Ferdinand Magellan. The book is a story of Peter's personal account of his time visiting the areas that surround Tierra Del Fuego and the history behind the land. Peter incorporates what he sees and witnessed with the events that were recorded in history or witnessed by discoverers before his time.The book's set up is easy to follow and is divided into chapters that focus on a different (or part of) a country. Most photographs in the book are those he has personally photographed on his trip and other pictures are incorporated as references to the historical segments of the text. Those pictures include maps, pictures of the boats that sailed the seas, and pictures of the indigenous people from the area. This non-fictional story is a great reference for students to use for research, of a personal experience in a land discovered long, long ago. It provides a wonderful approach to learning and studying a topic of interest.
Lourie, Peter. Tierra Del Fuego: A Journey to the End of the Earth. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2002. Print.

Teaching Suggestions for Tierra del Fuego
This book can be used as a perfect research tool for whole class or individual use. For whole class it can provide scaffolding for a myriad of discovery or exploration concepts and can be applied in any third grade class or higher.
  • Before reading, introduce the author as an explorer who is exploring a land once discovered by a famous or well known explorer by the name of Ferdinand Magellan. Introduce the format of the story and have students focus and discuss the chapter topics. Discuss important vocabulary words that will appear in the text: brooding, ominouus, myth, circumnavigation, squalls, gales,banshee, descendants, derelict, missionary. Other terminology will have in text definitions. 
  • During reading, emphasize proper note taking skills for research purposes. Provide students with a graphic organizer in which they can (if desired) organize their notes in. Pause after every labeled section to discuss main idea and details that can be used in research assignment. 
  • After reading, students will have the choice to research further any part of the Tierra Del Fuego. Students can choose a certain focus; whether it be on the people of Tierra Del Fuego, the locations, the animals or the first discovery. 

Supplemental Websites for Tierra del Fuego
  • Tierra Del Fuego National Park  Provides information on the location and geographical components of the area.
  • Patagonia Culture provides information on the people of Tierra Del Fuego can be used for teacher's reference and/or for student research.

Movin': Teen Poets Take Voice Edited by Dave Johnson

Library), Poetry-In-The-Branches (Project : New York Public. Movin': Teen Poets Take Voice. New York: Orchard Books (Ny), 2000. Print.
Movin': Teen Poets Take Voice is a collection of poetry written by young teens from New York and edited by Dave Johnson.  All poems are original work that were published by the Orchard Books company. The poems collected are not in any categorized order. This is a great collection of poems to share with students. The work is creative and original and may inspire young writers to work on their own poetry. 

Teaching Suggestions for Movin': Teen Poets Take Voice
This collection of poetry will work best in a 5th or 6th grade classroom. Some poems require a higher reading level than others. 
  • Before reading, use the website below (tooter4kids) to help students understand the different forms of poetry. Explain the general components of each or some forms of poetry. Describe how figurative language provides a key role in poetry. Vocabulary terms can be referenced depending on poem being read the day of lesson. Using the poem, "Movin'" by Stuart Avineu, some terms that may be introduced are self sustaining, ion driven, gyroscopic, far fetched, conjure. These are higher level words that some students may not be able to define. 
  • During reading, encourage students to study the components of the poem and what makes it appealing to them. Have students take note of any descriptive language, formats and any other components that are interesting to them and would like to use on their own. 
  • After reading, have students write their own freestyle poems. Encourage the use of figurative language and different or appealing formats. Students can submit their poems to kidsturncentral.com and all poems can be copied/produced as a class published book. 

Supplemental Websites for Movin': Teen Poets Take Voice
  • Kid's Turn Central on this website students can view other students work and submit their own work to be viewed by other students, as well. 
  • Forms of Poetry this website provides insight on the multiple forms of poetry.

Catch a Tiger by the Toe by Ellen Levine

Catch a Tiger by the Toe by Ellen Levine provides a look at the struggles of people in the Communist Party during the 1950s in New York City. Senator Joe McCarthy is making life for families like Jamie Morse's family, nearly impossible. Jamie is just a regular girl who loves movie stars and loves to write. However, because of mccarthyism Jamie is forced to hide her families' associations to communism. This story depicts an injustice of political invasion. It shows a strong courageous family who is standing up and fighting for what is right. And the perseverance of a girl who is self conflicted because of her family values and societal issues reflecting from them. 
Levine, Ellen. Catch a Tiger by the Toe. New York: Viking Juvenile, 2005. Print.
Teaching Suggestions for Catch a Tiger by the Toe
  • Before reading, introduce students to Mccarthyism and provide a basis of information for the students to understand why it came about. The book has a brief and useful description in the afterward and more information can be located on the website provided below.
  • During reading, students should be encouraged to take note of instances and statements of which they don't understand or wish to know more about. All inquiries can be researched as a class at the end of each reading section using the website provided. Pause every so often, between chapters, in order to collect the main ideas and details understood by the class to ensure comprehension. 
  • After reading, have students reflect on the challenges Jamie encountered because of her families’ association with Communism. Pick one main challenge Jamie had and put yourself in her position. How would you have reacted? What other ways would you go about helping the issue? How would you feel? Would you be as strong and brave?

Supplemental Websites for Catch a Tiger by the Toe
  • Encyclomedia- McCarthyism this website provides information and videos about the time period that may aid in teaching Mccarthyism.
  • McCarthyism in the USA provides more insight on the time period for further understanding of what Jamie's family was facing.

Day of Tears by Julius Lester

Day of Tears by Julius Lester is a novel in dialogue. It depicts a multi-perspective view on the biggest slave auction that took place in early March 1859 in Savannah, Georgia. The novel is a well rounded story that provides readers with an understanding of life for all people living in Savannah at the time of the auction. It reflects on the thoughts and actions of all people, in the moment and later, as each looks back on their decisions.  Readers will witness the slave life, the slave-owner's life, and all parties in between. This novel is saddening, multi-perspective look at Slavery. It provides an eye opening, fictional view on a historical event. 
 Lester, Julius. Day of Tears. New York: Jump At The Sun, 2007. Print.
Teaching Suggestions for Day of Tears by Julius Lester
  • Before reading, review the time period and connect the content of the text to the topics they have discussed in current of prior social studies content about slavery. Review some key vocabulary terms that will come up in the reading such as plantation, slave/slavery, slave quarters, gambling, debt, slave selling. Set the stage for the text and the content they will be experiencing. Assign students a character in the book for reading, like a reader's theater. 
  • During reading, pause every so often for students to establish connections to the text whether it be personal, connection to another text or to the world. Lead students to study their lives now in comparison to the lives of these people in the 1850s. 
  • After reading, present the websites below that provide extra information on the auction. Have students reflect on the time period in a writing activity prompted as: Julius Lester wrote this fictional story based on actual historical events. Think about what you've learned about the large slave auction from the book and what we have researched about the event as a class (websites). Explain the challenges faced by all parties involved: the buyers, sellers, and the slaves. Did any good come out of this large slave auction? How would you have felt as an onlooker?as a slave? as a buyer or as a seller?
Supplemental Websites for Day of Tears
Both of the websites provided above have accounts of the events that led to the largest slave auction in history. They provide information about the days of the auction and the people who were most influenced by it. 

Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata is an inspirational story about two sisters who complement each other in many ways. They cherish their family and their family values while living through financial limitations and racial discrimination. The story is a reflection of Katie's life, who describes her families' life through her relationships with her family members. Things for the Takeshima family are difficult, with both mom and dad working. Katie's older sister Lynn, teaches her everything she knows and takes care of Katie when mom and dad aren't around. But everything changes for the Takeshima family when Lynn, the rock in the family, becomes ill. This story is a family oriented one that explores family morals in a unstable society. It shows the effects of economic status and the effect of illness and death on a family. 
           Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira. New York: Aladdin, 2006. Print.  Teaching Suggestions for Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Before reading, introduce the story to the students and point out the locations of which the family lived and the locations they travel through on a map: Ohio, Georgia, and the places they pass in between. Most terminology from the book come from those locations. Also, introduce Japanese terminology that will arise in the text, and show that their definitions are explained within the text. (First example of this is on the first page, first chapter: Kira Kira). Discuss the racial separations between Americans, Japanese Americans and Chinese or other Asian Americans. *Information for further exploration can be found on one of the supplemental websites- Listed below. 
  • During reading, have students point out the major components in the relationship between Katie and Lynn. Explore each character, maybe using a graphic organizer, and compare and contrast the two. What makes them similar? or different? How do they complement each other? Determine the morals and values each of them cherish.  Continue adding in information while reading.
  • An after reading, writing prompt can be: Using the events leading up to Lynn's death, rewrite the ending of the story. How will you change or alter Katie and Lynn's relationship? Will Lynn still pass away? What events will you add into the story? Will Katie still have anger towards Lynn? Use your character comparisons to alter the ending.
Supplemental Websites for Kira Kira
  • Japanese American National Museum provides information from research and historical information about Japanese Americans. There is also background information on historical exhibitions from the museum that provide insight for students. 
  • Asian American History provides history, demographics and issues of all Asian American cultures.*

Just Juice by Karen Hesse

Hesse, Karen. Just Juice (Scholastic Signature). New York: Scholastic Paperbacks, 1999. Print

Just Juice is a graphic novel which depicts the life of a financially struggling family. Juice's illiterate Father, Gannon, has lost his job and is on the unsuccessful search to find a job to support his family. Juice, hates going to school because she can't read and somehow convinces her father to allow her to help him and her Ma at home rather than attending school. In an imperfect moment,  a letter is received from the town hall's office that states Gannon has been late on paying his property taxes and will soon be losing his house. But when Gannon can't find a job, it seems there's no more hope for the Faulstich family. This story proves the importance of family,  shows a family's struggle for stability through perseverance, the search for hope, and the affect on society and it's laws on families. 

Teaching suggestions for Just Juice by Karen Hesse
This novel should be an easy read for most third or fourth grade students. Some vocabulary terms that may be discussed before or during reading include these words: stethescope, tax/taxes, debts, diabetes, fiddle, and social services.
  • Before reading: Provide students with a view of societal issues. Ask questions like, what are some laws that you know your parents must follow for your own good? What are taxes? What things do we get taxed on? Is it possible that some families may be able to provide more for their children than others? Lead students to brainstorm ideas related to the text so that subjects like social services getting involved in Juice's family are connected to society today.
  • During reading, analyze the plot of the story and point out or ask student to point out the problem, conflicts, and the solution of the story. These conflicts are mostly related to the key vocabulary terms and the discussion prior to reading. 
  • After reading, a writing activity can be completed by using a question from the Scholastic website that accompanies the novel. A sample question is: Literacy means more than being able to read books. How does Juice show she knows how to read? How does she use her reading skills to help Ma? What can you read that others might have trouble reading? For example, a computer game manual or poetry or music.
Supplemental Websites for Just Juice include the following:
  •  CT Department of Social Services This web page will provide you as a teacher with background knowledge that you can provide students if and when they question you about it- whether it spark from the before reading discussion or during reading.