Category Archives: Reading For Pleasure (Chapter Books)

Stargirl

Bibliographic Information: Spinelli, Jerry. (2002). Stargirl. New York: Knopf.

Plot Description: Leo is intrigued by Stargirl from the moment he hears about her. She is new to his high school and behaves differently than everyone else he knows. Stargirl does what she wants, without thinking about how others will view her because of it. She wears crazy clothes like kimonos and pioneer dresses, plays ukulele in the cafeteria, sings to people she doesn’t know and dances in the rain. She is truly unique, confident and caring. The students at Micah High value conformity, so Stargirl does not fit in. Slowly she wins over the students with her positive attitude and cheerful demeanor. However, her popularity is short lived. Leo, who has begun a romance with Stargirl, has trouble dealing with being shunned for dating her. Leo tries to convince Stargirl to be more normal and she begins conforming to regular teen fashion and behavior and plots to become popular. Will Stargirl achieve what Leo wants for her or be true to herself?

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 590L Interest Level: Upper Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told in the first person, by Leo, who is in love with Stargirl. He is a reliable narrator, but we only see things through his eyes and his perspective colors his narration. The organization of the story is mostly sequential and easy to follow. Themes and meanings are not always stated, but are clearly implied, thus easy for the reader to identify. Figurative language is used in the telling of the story, such as personification, metaphors and idioms. Most readers will not have difficulty understanding these uses. Language closely adheres to the readers linguistic base and register is familiar and conversational. Genre is familiar. Prior knowledge needed to understand the text is familiar. Readers will be able to connect with the experiences portrayed in the novel, as it touches on common issues facing teens like, trying to fit in while staying true to yourself.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Writing: Text Types and Purposes: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5.a Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students record problems encountered in the story and their solutions. Have students create an acrostic poem using their names and traits that celebrate their personality and individuality. Have students look for examples of figurative language, such as idioms, metaphors, personification, etc and record their findings.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/stargirl-lesson-plan

http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375822339&view=rg

http://www.sandtpublications.com/f/stargirl_samples.pdf

Awards: YALSA Top Ten; Parent’s Guide Book Award; Parent’s Choice Award/Honor Book; ABC (Assoc. of Booksellers for Children) Choice; Young Reader’s Choice Award/Nominee; Book Sense Book of the Year Award/Honorees; Publishers Weekly Best Book

Series information: Stargirl Series

Character names/descriptions: 10th grade new girl, Stargirl is easy going, friendly, altruistic, unique and caring. 11th grade Leo loves Stargirl, but he is not as comfortable with himself as she is and might not be able to take being shunned by his peers.

Personal Thoughts: This is a good book to get students thinking about conformity. It deals with themes of identity and fitting in, which are very relatable high school issues.

High interest annotation: Everyone is talking about the new student, Stargirl. Who is she? Where did she come from? Why does she dress like that and carry a ukulele? These are just a few of the questions Leo and the rest of his high school have when Stargirl joins their ranks.

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The Phantom Tollbooth

Bibliographic Information: Juster, Norton. (1964). The Phantom Tollbooth. New York: Random House.

Plot Description: Bored and disinterested 10 year old Milo, is never satisfied with anything. He always longs to be somewhere else and when he gets there he wonders why he bothered going. One day he discovers a package containing a toy tollbooth and map to the Lands Beyond. He sets it up and drives his little toy car through the booth and into a fantastical adventure. He meets an array of interesting and unusual characters, such as Tock the watch dog, who is both figuratively and literally a watch dog, since he keeps watch to guard against time wasting and also has a giant clock in him. Along his journey Milo visits several lands, learning something new in each one, until he finally figures out how to enjoy the small pleasures of life.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 1000L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 6.7

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The book features black and white drawings and is told by a third person narrator, who is credible, but only knows Milo’s thoughts. Figurative language is used throughout the novel. Many phrases in the story have both literal and figurative meaning. Some students may have trouble discerning the often multiple meanings behind names and ideas. The author uses satire and humor to convey meaning. Higher level vocabulary is used throughout the story. Students will likely expand their vocabulary reading this novel and can use context to help understand new words. There is most certainly a distance between the events of the text and the experiences of the reader and events will be unfamiliar to readers. However, readers may connect to Milo and his boredom, as everyone has experienced it at some point, though hopefully not as severely as Milo. Knowledge specific to the fantastical lands in the story are often explained to help readers understand how things work in the Lands Beyond, though the explanations may not always be clear.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Mathematics

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 6 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

English Language Arts Standards for Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4.a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students identify figurative language in the text and determine the often dual meanings (figurative and literal) using contextual clues. As they read, ask students to record character traits of Milo, Humbug and Tock throughout the story. Have students respond to the following quote about Milo: “He regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all” (p. 2). Do you feel the same way? Why or why not? Why do you think Milo felt that way? How could you show Milo the importance of seeking knowledge?

Supporting Digital Content:

http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/finding-figurative-language-phantom-79.html?tab=1#tabs

http://www.npr.org/2011/11/10/141240217/my-accidental-masterpiece-the-phantom-tollbooth

http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/advancedacademics/resources/GIFTED_Downloads/Phantom_Tollbooth.pdf

Awards: George C. Stone Centre for Children’s Books Award

Character names/descriptions: Milo, a ten year old boy who is in the doldrums. He is always bored and takes little interest in his surroundings.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed this book as a child and think it is still relevant today. Even with all the technology and countless ways to amuse oneself, many children are still bored by everything (maybe even more so than when the book was written). It has a great lesson for readers and it is very entertaining and funny.

High interest annotation: Everything bores young Milo, so perhaps a trip through the phantom tollbooth is just what he needs to embark on a journey of discovery that will change all that

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The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

Bibliographic Information: Andrews Edwards, Julie. (2004). The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. New York: Harper Trophy.

Plot Description: The Potter children meet an eccentric and brilliant professor who tells them of the special Whangdoodleland where the intelligent and magical creatures have gone when people stopped believing in them. Getting to Whangdoodleland is no easy feat and the children must use their patience and imagination in order to learn to see things in a new light and make the magical journey. Once there, they set out on a search for the last of the really great Whangdoodles (who is the king of the land and the wisest and most generous of all creatures). Along the way they meet a plethora of other magical creatures, such as sidewinders and gazooks. Most are good natured, friendly creatures, but some are not so nice. The ‘oily’ Prock, for example, will do anything he can to keep the humans from reaching the last of the really great Whangdoodles.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 620L, Interest Level: Middle Grades, ATOS Book Level: 4.4

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The vocabulary is mostly familiar, but some phrases are a bit antiquated, such as ‘fiddlesticks’ and may be unfamiliar to young readers. There is also some academic language as the professor explains things to the children. As he explains it to the characters, it is also explained to the reader, so should not pose a challenge to comprehension. Some of the characters’ speech in Whangdoodleland is spelled phonetically to let the reader understand how it would sound, which may be a little confusing at first, for students with low reading levels. The novel also contains some more sophisticated vocabulary, which will challenge and help students grow their vocabulary. Illustrations are not used in the book. According to the author’s note in the front of the book, Andrew’s declined having illustrations added to the story because since it is a book about imagination, she felt it was more authentic to require readers to use their own imaginations to ‘see’ the land she creates in the story.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards: Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4.a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

English Language Arts Standards: Writing: Research to Build and Present Knowledge: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Curriculum Suggestions: Make a Whangdoodle dictionary to keep track of all the Whangdoodleland specific terms and creatures you come across in the story. Your entries should follow the same format as a dictionary. Include the parts of speech, as well as a definition and example sentence from the text to show how the word is used in context. The professor explains cloning to the Potter children in the story. Do your own research about cloning (in particular animal cloning) and summarize your findings, using proper citation to avoid plagiarism.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://files.harpercollins.com/PDF/TeachingGuides/0064403149.pdf

Character names/descriptions: The Potter children: Ben (13), Tom (10) & Lindy (7), who meet a strange and brilliant professor and travel with him on a quest to find the last of the really great whangdoodles. Professor Savant, a noble Prize winner who leads the children on their quest.

Edition: 30th Anniversary Edition with foreword by the author

Personal Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book as a child and I think its whimsical world holds up to the test of time. Andrew’s creates fantastical characters and lands that will capture children’s imagination well into the future.

High interest annotation: Join the Potter children as they learn to let their imaginations free and journey to the magical world of the last of the really great Whangdoodles.

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The Hunger Games

Bibliographic Information: Collins, Suzanne. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.

Plot Description: Teenage Katniss lives in a future dystopian society where the elite in the Capitol feast and party, while those in the rest of the country are barely getting by. Katniss does what she can, even if it means defying authority, to help her family survive. When Katniss’ younger sister is chosen for the Hunger Games, a fight to the death sanctioned and mandated by the Capitol, she steps forward and volunteers herself to take her sister’s place, something almost unheard of in the history of the games. Though not as strong or brutal as some of the other contestants, Katniss uses her survival skills to become a contender for victory, but will she have to sacrifice if she is to outlive the others?

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 810L, Interest Level: Middle/Upper Grades, ATOS Book Level: 5.3

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story includes subplots and more complex characters. It is told in first person, so the reader is limited by only knowing what the narrator tells them, but she is a reliable narrator. The reader only knows as much as the narrator knows. Organization is conventional and chronological, with clear transitions to lead the reader through the story. The language is largely explicit with occasion for more complex meaning. Mostly contemporary language, with unfamiliar words, unique to the fictional world, being explained, such as tesserae, which the narrator explains is worth a year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. Many complex sentences with subordinate clauses and transition words. Some themes are clear and others implicit. Themes of varying levels of complexity are explored. Experience portrayed are distinctly different than those of readers. However, readers may relate to themes of taking care of or protecting family or younger siblings.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards: Speaking & Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

English Language Arts Standards: Writing: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students research one of the survival skills needed by the Hunger Games contestants, such as basic first aid, hunting, identification of edible plants, archery, camouflage, etc and have them make a how to video on the topic for amateurs. Have students write part of the story from a different character’s point of view, in their chosen point of view, such as journal entry or letter.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/resources/hunger-games-for-teachers/

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/the-odds-ever-in-your-favor-ideas-and-resources-for-teaching-the-hunger-games/?_r=0

Awards: SLJ Best Book; Kirkus Editors Choice/Best Book; Publishers Weekly Best Book; VOYA Award/Honor; ALA Notable/Best Books; Horn Book Fanfare; -Golden Duck Award/Nominee; Booklist Editors’ Choice;

Series information: 1st book in the Hunger Games Series

Character names/descriptions: Katniss is the heroine of the novel, she uses her survival instincts to try to stay ahead, Peeta is the other tribute training with Katniss, he is both a possible love interest and enemy in the fight for survival, Prim is Katniss’ little sister, for whom she risks her life.

Personal Thoughts: This book is intriguing, suspenseful and fill of adventure. The romantic element will appeal to some teens, as well.

High interest annotation: Katniss volunteers herself for almost certain death in order to save her sister, but could she possibly have what it takes to save herself as well?

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Fantastic Mr. Fox

Bibliographic Information: Dahl, Roald. (2007). Fantastic Mr. Fox. New York: Puffin Books.

Plot Description: Mr. Fox lives a happy life, in his hole with Mrs. Fox and their four young foxes. Mr. Fox provides for his family by stealing chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys from the three rich, nasty farmers in the valley. The farmers all know Mr. Fox is the one who has been stealing from them, so they decide to team up to catch him and end his stealing once and for all. In their first attempt Mr. Fox loses his lovely tail, but he won’t be caught off guard a second time. The farmers get tired of waiting for Mr. Fox to come back out of his hole, so they try to dig down to it, but they are no match for the Fox family who just digs deeper. So the farmers get their machines to try to out dig the foxes, but still to no avail. Just when it seems the foxes may starve in their hole, Mr. Fox has a brilliant idea to save the day.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 600L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.1

Qualitative Reading Analysis: Organization is clear and chronological. Illustrations directly support understanding of text, though they are not necessary for comprehension, For example, ‘this is what happened to the hill,’ (p.27) is followed by an illustration of what the hill looked like, but the sentences after the picture describe the hill being like a crater, so the illustrations are not needed, but certainly enhance the readers experience. The author uses figurative language, such as alliteration, for example: Fantastic Mr. Fox. Sentences are mostly simple and compound in construction. Vocabulary is familiar and conversational. Language closely adheres to the reader’s linguistic base. There are multiple levels of meaning and themes, some of which are clearly stated and others of which are implied and require more in-depth consideration. The story is told by a third person narrator who is reliable and provides appropriate levels of detail. The text presents situations that will be unfamiliar to the reader, but not difficult for the reader to understand. Students may connect with the animals decision to work together for mutual benefit.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

English Language Arts Standards: Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

English Language Arts Standards: Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5.a Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students design a new machine that could help the farmers catch Mr. Fox. Create a new tail for Mr. Fox. Have students research the impact of heavy digging machinery of environments and wildlife. Have students predict or suggest possible solutions for the Fox family’s problems. Do you agree with Mrs. Fox that Mr. Fox is fantastic? Use supporting details from the book to justify your answer. Have students make an alliteration using their name and an adjective to describe themselves. Come up with adjectives to describe various characters in the story and see if you can make an alliteration, for example, Rude Rat.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://trinity-guided-reading-resources.wikispaces.com/Fantastic+Mr.+Fox

http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/library/books/fantasticmrfox.htm

http://www.roalddahl.com/docs/FantasticMrFoxLesson_1393584049.pdf

Awards: Bilby Award

Character names/descriptions: Mr. Fox, the family man (fox) and sly thief. Farmer Boggis is the enormously fat chicken farmer, Farmer Bunce is the potbellied dwarf duck and goose farmer and Farmer Bean, the pencil thin alcoholic turkey and apple farmer. All three farmers are rich and nasty.

Personal Thoughts: I particularly like the illustrations in this book and the simple story that has multiple layers of meaning.

High interest annotation: Three nasty farmers set out to catch Mr. Fox, the thief who keeps stealing from their farms, but Mr. Fox is too clever for them.

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The Wanderer

Bibliographic Information: Creech, Sharon. (2000). The Wanderer. New York: Joanna Cotler Books.

Plot Description: This story is told in alternating viewpoints through journal entries written by thirteen year old Sophie and her cousin Cody as they sail across the Atlantic to England, the home of their Grandfather. Sophie is the only girl in a crew of five men (her three uncles and two cousins). There is another reason Sophie is different from the rest of the crew. They have always been family and Sophie only became a part of their ranks three years ago when she was adopted by the uncles’ sister. Sophie is excited to find adventure on the high seas, but she also takes a journey of profound personal discovery. The second narrator, Cody also takes a personal journey as he proves to himself and his family that he has a deep inner strength behind his clowning exterior.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 830L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 5.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The author uses figurative language, such as personification and similes to make connections within the text. For example, ‘Sophie is like the sea,’ she has different personalities like the sea: calm, still, rough, etc. The author uses alternating points of view in limited first person narration, to show the reader different views of the same story. There is significant complexity and multiple levels of meaning. Some meaning is stated, while others are left to the reader to interpret. Vocabulary is mostly conventional, conversational and familiar. Unfamiliar nautical and boat related terms are explained and easily inferred from context. Sentences are primarily simple and compound, with occasion for more complex phrases and transition words. Experiences portrayed are uncommon to most readers. Not many will have sailed (especially on a long journey) or been adopted (particularly in later childhood). Students may connect with themes of belonging, searching for yourself and grief.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Geography

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students create a map of the Wanderer’s journey across the Atlantic. Label the important places it sails and crucial events that happen there. Chart the changes that occur for key characters over the course of the journey. Support your answers with details from the text. Sophie is like the sea. Have students pick an element of nature that they are like and explain why.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/wanderer-extension-activity

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/wanderer-discussion-guide

Awards: SLJ Best Book; State Award; Parent’s Choice Award; ALA Notable/Best Books; Christopher Award; Publishers Weekly Best Book; BCCB Blue Ribbon Book; Newbery Honor; Young Reader’s Choice Award/Nominee; Carnegie Medal/Honors; Book Sense Book of the Year Award/Honorees; Booklist Editors’ Choice

Character names/descriptions: Sophie a young girl whose parents died and was adopted three years ago, Cody is her new cousin, who is interested and intrigued by her.

Personal Thoughts: Sophie is a brave and tenacious young girl who makes a wonderful narrator. I also enjoyed the view of Sophie from both her words and those of someone getting to know her.

High interest annotation: Come along on an exciting and perilous journey sailing across the Atlantic, which is also a journey of self discovery for the six wanderers on board

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Stardust

Bibliographic Information: Gaiman, Neil. (1999). Stardust. New York: Avon Books.

Plot Description: Tristan makes a promise to his beloved Victoria, that he will bring back a fallen star for her and then they will marry. This promise is the beginning of Tristan’s adventures. He sneaks through the only hole in the wall (which separates his sleepy English town ‘Wall’ from the world of the faeries) in search of the fallen star. The star turns out to be nothing like he expected and together they meet an assortment of unusual and mysterious characters, while braving all sorts of dangers on their journey through the enchanted world of Faerie. To complicate matters, Tristan is not the only one searching for the fallen star, which holds the key to youth, power and dark magic for evil witches in the land. These witches will stop at nothing to take the star from Tristan and destroy her to gain the magic they desire.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 970L Interest Level: Upper Grades ATOS Book Level: 6.2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story contains multiple levels of meaning. The genre is familiar, but the text bends and expands the rules of the genre. Organization adheres to most conventions, but often shifts the readers focus to another perspective, time, place or event before returning to the main characters. The story is told in third person omniscient narration, by a credible voice that provides an appropriate level of detail. The same graphic is used to mark the beginning of each new chapter. The text organization has more than one storyline and is at times difficult to predict. The text has complex sentences with subordinate clauses and transition words. The story explores themes of varying levels of complexity. As it is a fantasy story, experiences portrayed will not be common to readers. Though elements of the story will be familiar, as they are conventions used in fantasy/fairytales that readers likely know.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

Curriculum Suggestions: Discuss with students some common elements of fairytales. Have students look for fairytale elements in the novel. Have students write about whether or not they think the novel is a fairy tale, providing textual support to backup their claims, then have students share their ideas in a class discussion.

Supporting Digital Content:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&old=1&id=10839

Awards: Publishers Weekly Best Book; Alex Award

Character names/descriptions: Tristan, Victoria his beloved, the beautiful Fallen Star, Evil Witches who want the star for her magic and a number of other strange characters from the faerie realm.

Personal Thoughts: A highly enjoyable, magical adventure. Compelling characters who inhabit an interesting, fantastical world. I highly recommend this story and the film version as well.

High interest annotation: Tristan’s adventures begin when he promises to bring his love a fallen star. Little does he know, the task will take him to a magical world, where he will need all his bravery and cunning to keep the star safe from the others who pursue her.

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