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Meet the World’s Greatest Underachiever, Hank Zipzer!

Meet the World’s Greatest Underachiever, Hank Zipzer!

Niagara Falls or Does It? is the first book in Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver’s Hank Zipzer series. is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies that present the learning challenges that Hank Zipzer experiences due to his undiagnosed Dyslexia.

Hank Zipzer is inspired by the challenges that Henry Winkler (best known as the Fonz!) faced as a boy. Henry’s undiagnosed Dyslexia made him a classic underachiever and gave him great anxiety about all aspects of going to school. The Hank Zipzer series is about Hank’s funny adventures while highlighting the inner thoughts, doubts, and fears that living with learning differences poses.  Henry himself along with his co-author, Lin Oliver, explain their inspiration for the series here:

I loved the quote from Lin Oliver, ” The most important part for us in creating the series is to speak to kids and let them know that inside each one of them they have a unique and special contribution that they can make to the world.” Kids that face learning challenges, among them Dyslexia, often face depression and low-self esteem thinking they are dumb, or less than their peers. The series gives kids the voice to know that they aren’t “stupid” that they are just wired in a different way and in many ways, this makes them even more talented in certain things.

From the Book Jacket of Niagara Falls, or Does it?:

It’s science project time in Ms. Adolf’s class. This is good news and bad news for Hank-he loves science, but he hates the report part. So Hank turns to TV to take his mind off things. But when the program directory scrolls by too quickly for Hank to know what’s on, he decides to take apart the cable box to try to slow down the crawl. Great! Now Hank has found the perfect science project! But what he wasn’t counting on was his sister’s pet iguana laying eighteen eggs in the disassembled cable box. How is Hank going to get out of this one? 

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Niagara Falls, or Does it? 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.

niagara falls with a rainbow

As a parent who has a child that deals with similar learning challenges, I find Henry Winkler and his Hank Zipzer so inspiring. I was so happy to be able to give this book to my son in third grade so that he could read a book that had a character that he could relate to and give him inspiration that he is smarter than he may feel. Add the humor and this kid was hooked. It’s great that there are sixteen more books in the series to keep kids reading.

I’d like to share another video from Henry Winkler where he discusses Dyslexia and shares his experiences. He is an inspiring role model for kids with learning challenges and if you have someone in your life struggling, may it be a student or your own child, please share this with them as well.

Once you’ve moved through the Hank Zipzer series another great book I highly recommend for kids, in grades 4-6, that comes from the voice of a character with Dyslexia is Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mulally Hunt.


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.

Underdogs use the Power of Friendship to Become Freak the Mighty

Underdogs use the Power of Friendship to Become Freak the Mighty

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick is a must-read. Philbrick combines heart, adventure, suspense, drama, and heartbreak to make this an instant classic that all your students will love. This is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

Freak the Mighty was first published in 1993. The tale is timeless. Max is an outcast. He feels stupid, too large, hated for the crimes of his father, basically unloved and all alone in the world. Kevin is smart and adventurous but has a disease that prevents him from doing all he wants to do. When Max and Kevin form an unlikely friendship they fill each other’s weaknesses with their own strengths to create Freak the Mighty. Together there’s no stopping them!

From the Book Jacket:

Max. Freak. Best Friends. Forever.

“I never had a brain until Freak came along…”

That’s what Max thought. All his life he’d been called stupid. Dumb. Slow. It didn’t help that his body seemed to be growing faster than his mind. It didn’t help that people were afraid of him. So Max learned how to be alone. At least until Freak came along.

Freak was weird, too. He had a little body-and a really big brain. Together Max and Freak were unstoppable.

Together, they were Freak the Mighty.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Freak the Mighty 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.

Large boy holding smaller boy on his shoulders watching the sun set.

Freak the Mighty touches on so many topics: learning disabilities, family issues, low self-esteem, physical disabilities, adventure, heroics, and loss. It is a tale that just about every upper elementary to middle school student can relate to or empathize with. It will help them look differently at those that have been deemed the outcasts to help them unleash the gems that are hiding in plain sight.

Until 9/30/19, you can find Freak the Mighty in the Scholastic TAB Book Order for only $1. It’s a great time to stock up on this novel for 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.

Teaching a Fish to Climb a Tree

Teaching a Fish to Climb a Tree

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

This a great quote that is often mistakingly attributed to Albert Einstein. He didn’t say this, but the quote is powerful just the same.

This quote is the premise of the book, Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. The main character is Ally, a sixth grader, who hates school because she feels stupid and thinks she will never be successful. Ally has isolated herself and does not take any risks towards academic work or towards making friends. She feels everything is hopeless until a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, comes in as a long-term substitute. Mr. Daniels recognizes Ally’s talents as an artist and is impressed by her “out of the box” problem-solving skills. He leads Ally to admit her fears and helps her to take risks that lead to a diagnosis of dyslexia. Mr. Daniels helps Ally build confidence and realize she’s not stupid, she just learns differently, which opens up the world academically and socially for Ally.

 

 

 

This is a very inspirational book for all students to read, not just those that may have dyslexia. It showcases through the many different characters that everyone has a talent and everyone has value, sometimes it takes a little more work to discover!  Research shows that 80-90% of all students that are identified as learning disabled have some degree of dyslexia. In fact, it is hypothesized that about 20% of the population is afflicted with dyslexia to some degree.

This book gives those students hope that they are not alone and that there are ways for them to shine and learn. It also helps to build empathy among the students that may not struggle in this way so they can better understand their classmates and encourage kindness to all.

 

Fish in a Tree is a wonderful book to use as a whole class novel study or for literature groups and book clubs.

If you’re looking for a book that is for a little bit younger child dealing with Dyslexia I recommend trying out the Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. The first book in the series, Niagara Falls, or Does It? is great for third graders who are struggling with learning challenges to help them know they are not alone and they are full of talent!

Book cover for Hank Zipzer Niagara Falls or Does It?


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.