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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.

Take the Pain Out of Learning Cursive with Muggie Maggie

Take the Pain Out of Learning Cursive with Muggie Maggie

Third grade often brings about the rite of passage of learning cursive writing. Beverly Cleary’s novel Muggie Maggie explores the anxieties this causes Maggie. 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, especially with the introduction of cursive.

In our modern world there is a debate whether we even need to be teaching cursive anymore. There are some common sense arguments for not wasting the classroom time while on the other side some solid research that points to the educational value on the brain development in learning cursive.

Muggie Maggie doesn’t really touch on the controversy, instead it focuses on the individual and how learning something so strange and new can be exciting or it may be anxiety inducing, as is the case for Maggie.

From the Book Jacket:

At first, Maggie is just feeling plain stubborn when she declares she won’t learn cursive. What’s wrong with print, anyway? And she can easily type on a computer, so why would she need to know how to read those squiggly lines? But soon all her classmates are buzzing about Maggie’s refusal to learn, especially after her teacher, Mrs. Leeper, says Maggie’s cursive is so sloppy that her name looks like “Muggie.”

With “Muggie Maggie” ringing in her ears, Maggie absolutely, positively won’t back down…until she’s appointed class mail messenger. All the letters that Mrs. Leeper sends to the office are in cursive, and Maggie thinks they are written about her. But there’s only way to know for sure…so what’s Maggie going to do?

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Muggie Maggie 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.

girl in classroom looking thoughtfully at ceiling

If you are embarking on cursive instruction with your class or just your own child at home, Muggie Maggie is an enjoyable story that is so relevant and relatable for your students during this new time in their lives.



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.