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Overcoming Life’s Obstacles with a Friend at your Side.

Overcoming Life’s Obstacles with a Friend at your Side.

Beverly Cleary is a legend in children’s literature. Two of my favorite books are Dear Mr. Henshaw and the sequel, Strider, that take you on the journey of young Leigh Botts in his acceptance to his parent’s divorce and the road to acceptance of himself. They are great books to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

Beverly Cleary has always strived to write books “about kids like us”. Her books are beloved because they are so relatable to her readers. Leigh struggles with his parent’s separation and his father’s absence due to his job as a truck driver. In Dear Mr. Henshaw Leigh connects with a favorite author and develops a pen pal relationship that helps him work through his feelings and anxieties.

From the Book Jacket for Dear Mr. Henshaw:

Beverly Cleary’s timeless Newbery Medal-winning book explores difficult topics like divorce, insecurity, and bullying through the thoughts and emotions of a sixth-grade boy as he writes to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw.

After his parents separate, Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mother. Struggling to make friends and deal with his anger toward his absent father, Leigh loses himself in a class assignment in which he must write to his favorite author. When Mr. Henshaw responds, the two form an unexpected friendship that will change Leigh’s life forever.

From the beloved author of the Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse series comes an epistolary novel about how to navigate and heal from life’s growing pains.

Leigh’s story of growth and acceptance continues in Strider when he takes in a stray dog (Strider) that helps him accept his place in the world, introduces him to a love for running, and gives him hope for the future.

From the Book Jacket for Strider:

Strider has a new habit. Whenever we stop, he places his paw on my foot. It isn’t an accident because he always does it. I like to think he doesn’t want to leave me.

Can a stray dog change the life of a teenage boy? It looks as if Strider can. He’s a dog that loves to run; because of Strider, Leigh Botts finds himself running — well enough to join the school track team. Strider changes Leigh on the inside, too, as he finally begins to accept his parents’ divorce and gets to know a redheaded girl he’s been admiring. With Strider’s help, Leigh finds that the future he once hated to be asked about now holds something he never expected: hope.

I offer complete novel studies to accompany Dear Mr. Henshaw and Strider for use in the classroom or homeschool. Each unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

hand holding pen writing a letter

Beverly Cleary does a masterful job of showing Leigh’s growth through her portrayal of his letter writing and narration which makes a wonderful example for point of view instruction. Many kids can relate to Leigh’s feelings of loneliness, insecurity, sadness over a divorce, missing a parent, trying to find their way and/or talent, and having a beloved pet that gives them unconditional love. The universal relatability is what makes Dear Mr. Henshaw and Strider such wonderful novels to use in your classroom.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

The Fight for Freedom of Speech with The Landry News

The Fight for Freedom of Speech with The Landry News

The Landry News by Andrew Clements is a thought-provoking book about the role a teacher plays and how much power a student has to publicly share their opinions. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

Unfortunately, we’ve all had that teacher that just does the bare minimum and instills no enjoyment in learning. How many have just pushed through until we can move on? What lengths would your students go to fight the system? Clement’s main character Cara, goes above and beyond with some unexpected consequences.

From the Book Jacket:

The bad news is that Cara Landry is the new kid at Denton Elementary School. The worse news is that her teacher, Mr. Larson, would rather read the paper and drink coffee than teach his students anything. So Cara decides to give Mr. Larson something else to read — her own newspaper, The Landry News.


Before she knows it, the whole fifth-grade class is in on the project. But then the principal finds a copy of The Landry News, with unexpected results. Tomorrow’s headline: Will Cara’s newspaper cost Mr. Larson his job?

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Landry News for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

smiling girl holding newspapers

Cara is rightfully annoyed with her teacher but she is also struggling with issues of her own. Cara learns that she needs to balance her pain while still sharing the facts. The Landry News comes with themes about First Amendment rights, the role of a newspaper in society, and balancing truth with mercy. It’s a thought-provoking story that your students will find a truth that they can relate to.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Is love possible for Edward Tulane after loss?

Is love possible for Edward Tulane after loss?

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a lyrical tale by Kate DiCamillo exploring the question, Is love possible again after loss? It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

 

In a beautifully illustrated tale, author Kate DiCamillo, takes the reader on a wondrous journey driven by the enduring power of love and the deep grief of loss.

From the Book Jacket:

Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely.

And then, one day, he was lost. . . .

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

rabbit with a suitcase sitting on a bench looking at the stars

“If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.”

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane contains several themes involving loss and recovery, kindness and compassion, and the journey to self-discovery. A tear or two may be brought to your eyes, but it is a guarantee that this book will touch your heart and the hearts of your students. This novel has an important lesson for all of us.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Can a Wild Robot Survive in the Wilderness?

Can a Wild Robot Survive in the Wilderness?

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is a story that brings in so many themes but in such a different and unique way. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

 

 

 

Peter Brown published The Wild Robot in 2016, so it has a fresh and modern feel that your students will instantly relate to. The author, Peter Brown, shares his experience and thought process on his creative process in writing The Wild Robot which you can read in this blog post: The Wild Robot lives!

From the Book Jacket:

Can a robot survive in the wilderness?


When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.


As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.
From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator, Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and action-packed novel about what happens when nature and technology collide.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Wild Robot for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Robot hand in a forest

Students will explore and discuss in-depth the concepts of “smart robots”, friendship, sacrifice, Global Warming, the cycle of life, survival, and so much more in The Wild Robot. It is a great addition to your literature curriculum which can also branch out into a myriad of STEM ideas and projects. I highly recommend this book for your upper elementary classrooms. The book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger and with the sequel ready to go in the book The Wild Robot Escapes, your students will be hooked into continuing the journey on their own!



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Grieving and Missing May

Grieving and Missing May

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant is a poignant story to analyze the stages of grief a family goes through after losing a loved one. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

Missing May was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1993. Prolific author, Cynthia Rylant, has taken the topic of grief and moving through the stages and written in a way that young readers can relate and empathize.

From the Book Jacket:

Ever since May, Summer’s aunt and good-as-a-mother for the past six years, died in the garden among her pole beans and carrots, life for Summer and her Uncle Ob has been as bleak as winter. Ob doesn’t want to create his beautiful whirligigs anymore, and he and Summer have slipped into a sadness that they can’t shake off. They need May in whatever form they can have her — a message, a whisper, a sign that will tell them what to do next. When that sign comes, Summer will discover that she and Ob can keep missing May but still go on with their lives.

A beloved classic about grief, gardens, and the enduring love of family.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Missing May for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

wood rocker on a porch

Missing May in a poignant story of a young girl who has faced far too much loss in her life. How Summer adapts to that loss and helps those around her move through grief to renewal is a memorable and honorable story that kids can empathize with.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

A Teachable Moment with Little House in the Big Woods

A Teachable Moment with Little House in the Big Woods

If you are a child of the 1970s and ’80s like I am, then you grew up with the revered Little House books (and TV series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As times have progressed and changed we’ve looked back at these stories with a new perspective in regards to racial issues. In 2018, the American Library Association changed the name of their top award from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award in response to the change in perspective and inclusiveness in today’s society.

Many people believe that there is no place for the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder in our society. While many other people believe the whole thing is overblown and nothing is wrong with the books. I don’t really fall into either of the categories. I absolutely see the points being made that Wilder’s depictions of African Americans, and especially Native Americans, are derogatory through our 21st-century eyes. I feel though, that there is merit in her work and this topic gives a teacher a vital opportunity to use as a teachable moment. We can’t ignore history and pretend it never happened. We need to shed the light on the mistreatments and inaccuracies for what they are and learn from those mistakes so as not to repeat them.

One of the best blog posts I have read on this subject is by Laura McLemore in her post found here. It puts into historical perspective the times that Wilder was living in during the story and keeping in mind these books were authored in the 1930s written through the eyes of an impressionable child who didn’t really have all the knowledge to address the fears she had. A very different time for our country and culture. We know many of the views and actions perpetrated during this time were outright wrong and based on false knowledge. If you look through Wilder’s eyes with these points in mind you can gain a perspective of WHY she may have written and believed the things she did without having to agree with it. You can identify the wrong points in her writing and actions and use the hurtful content to help students understand why this is wrong and how these beliefs continued to hurt as time passed. Kids need to learn these things and they need to know why it was wrong in order for the future to be a better place.

Because of these beliefs that the Laura Ingalls Wilder books can be used as a tool for greater understanding, a teachable moment, I still feel they have a valuable place in the classroom. Her descriptions of pioneer living are invaluable for children to gain an insight into what it was like living during the late 1800s and what hardships the pioneers faced as they moved west. However, if you do choose to use these books I really do feel strongly that it is imperative that you give kids the proper historical perspectives and facts. Help them understand the true, and sometimes very awful, part of the history of the western expansion of the United States.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder series begins with Little House in the Big Woods. It is the story of a young Laura and her family living in Wisconsin before heading farther West into the prairies of the Midwest.

From the Book Jacket:

Based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the award-winning Little House series, which has captivated generations of readers. This edition features the classic black-and-white artwork from Garth Williams.

Little House in the Big Woods takes place in 1871 and introduces us to four-year-old Laura, who lives in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. She shares the cabin with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their lovable dog, Jack.

Pioneer life isn’t easy for the Ingalls family since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But they make the best of every tough situation. They celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do their spring planting, bring in the harvest in the fall, and make their first trip into town. And every night, safe and warm in their little house, the sound of Pa’s fiddle lulls Laura and her sisters into sleep.

The nine books in the timeless Little House series tell the story of Laura’s real childhood as an American pioneer and are cherished by readers of all generations. They offer a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier and tell the heartwarming, unforgettable story of a loving family.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Little House in the Big Woods for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

log cabin in the woods

Your students can continue on with Wilder’s Little House series that goes through her life from Wisconsin to the prairies of the Midwest to growing up and marrying. They really do give students an insight into what life during the Homestead times was like. Just make sure you do the work of giving your students all the facts and information so that they can view this series in the proper perspective with the proper knowledge of our inclusive times.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.