Tag Archives: childhood

The Snowy Day

Bibliographic Information: Keats, Ezra Jack. (1962). The Snowy Day. New York: Viking Press.

Plot Description: Young Peter wakes up to see a blanket of snow covering everything outside his window. After breakfast he puts on his snowsuit and heads out to explore. He makes different patterns in the snow with his feet and a stick, which he also uses to smack the snow from a tree. The snow falls on his head. He also pretends to be a mountain climber and slides down a big hill of snow. As well as making snow angels, a snowman and snowballs. He saves a snowball in his pocket before going inside for the day. His mother helps him get out of his wet clothes and take a bath. When Peter looks for his snowball later that night, it is gone. He goes to bed hoping that the snow outside will not disappear like the snowball. When he awakens in the morning he sees he didn’t need to worry: the world outside is still blanketed in snow.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: AD500L Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 2.5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: Figurative language is used to explain sounds. For example, the author uses onomatopoeia ‘crunch, crunch, crunch’ to convey the sound of Peter walking in the snow. Graphics used for understanding. For example, in the story is says, “he walked with his toes pointed out, like this:” and then there is an illustration of what the snow looked like when he walked that way. The illustration, though not necessary, will help readers, especially children, understand what the author means when he says “like this” about the way Peter walked. It also shows the tracks he makes dragging his feet in the snow and then what it looks like when he drags a stick along too. Language closely adheres to readers linguistic base and register is casual and familiar. The text content will closely match life experiences of readers who live in places where it snows, but will be new to those who live in hot climates and may have never seen snow.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

English Language Arts Standards: Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students retell the story using simple sentence strips provided by the teacher. Students can draw a picture of the action on the strip and then organize the strips in chronological order. Have students imagine what happens after the story ends with Peter and his friend going out into the snow.

Supporting Digital Content:




Awards: SLJ Best Book; NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; ABA Children’s Book Council; Caldecott Medal

Character names/descriptions: Peter, a little African American boy who lives in the city and goes exploring on a snow day.

Personal Thoughts: I really enjoyed the pictures and how they were used to enhance the meaning of the story.

High interest annotation: The city is covered in snow and young Peter is ready to explore the winter wonderland.

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Bibliographic Information: Bemelmans, Ludwig. (1993). Madeline. New York: Scholastic.

Plot Description: Miss Clavel watches over her charges (twelve little girls) with care. The twelve little girls do everything together: walk, eat, smile, frown, brush their teeth, sleep, etc. The smallest and bravest of the girls is Madeline. She isn’t afraid of mice or tigers and frequently makes Miss Clavel nervous. One night Miss Clavel wakes with the feeling something is not right. She rushes to the big room where all the little girls sleep and finds Madeline crying in pain. The doctor is sent for and soon calls for the ambulance to take Madeline to the hospital for appendicitis. The twelve little girls and Miss Clavel come to visit Madeline in the hospital, where she has received many gifts from her Papa. That night Miss Clavel again awakens with the fear that something is wrong and finds all the little girls crying because they want their appendix out too so they can go to the hospital and receive gifts like Madeline.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: AD480L Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 3.1

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story features verse, rhythm and rhyme. Organization is clear and chronological. Graphics directly support the story and add to understanding, but are not necessary for understanding. Language is explicit and straightforward. Text features organize information explicitly to guide the reader. Italics are used to show surprise when the little girls visit Madeline at the hospital. At the end of the book the last three lines of the story get gradually smaller as if the reader were getting further and further away from the story, as it comes to an end. The story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator who is a credible voice and gives details, leaving little hidden from the reader’s view. The narrator follows Miss Clavel and the girls and then also shows Madeline when she leaves them for the hospital, as well as what is happening back at the house with the 11 other little girls and Miss Clavel.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.

Curriculum Suggestions: Identify rhyming words in text. Discuss the effect of rhyming on the way the story sounds when read and how this influences the meaning of the story. Have students create their own rhyming phrases based on provided pictures. Have students identify the who, what, where and when of the story, including characters and the difference between major and minor characters, landmarks that tell us where the story takes place and details that hint at the time period.

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Awards: Caldecott Honor; ALA Notable/Best Books

Series information: 1st book in the Madeline Series

Character names/descriptions: Madeline, Miss Clavel

Personal Thoughts: I remember reading the Madeline books as a child and enjoying the way they sounded when read aloud. I have always loved hearing about far off places, so the setting of Paris also intrigued me.

High interest annotation: Meet Madeline, the bravest of the Miss Clavel’s charges, in the first of her many adventures through Paris

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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.

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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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From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Bibliographic Information: Konigsburg, E. L. (1967). From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Plot Description: When Claudia decides to run away, she plans very carefully and enlists her younger brother Jamie as her partner in crime because he can be counted on to keep quiet and he is rich from saving up his allowance and winnings from playing cards on the bus to school. Claudia and Jamie use their cunning (and a train pass found in the garbage) to get to New York City, where they go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once there, they stash their belongings behind tapestries and in a sarcophagus and hide in the bathroom stalls at closing time. They find a 16th century bed to sleep in and make themselves at home. During the day they tag along with school groups to learn something about everything. When an Angel statue comes to the museum the two children decide to try to solve the mystery of who sculpted the beautiful work and along the way meet Mrs. Frankweiler, the angel’s previous owner.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 700L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.7

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story begins with a letter from Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Then commences a third person account of Claudia and Jamie’s exploits. Throughout the story are little asides from the narrator (Mrs. F.) to her lawyer, Saxonberg, who is the recipient of the letter and story. Most students will not have trouble understanding the shifts from the main story to the side notes from the author as she mentions Saxonberg’s name in them or uses parentheses to show it is an aside to the story. The novel has two storylines, that of Jamie and Claudia and also Mrs. F’s, which intersect in more than one way. A few illustrations are used at various points to enhance the text, but they are not necessary for understanding. The conventionality is largely explicit and easy to understand, with some occasions for more complex meaning. Conventional, conversational language is used. Experiences of hiding out in a museum will not be common to readers, but themes of running away and being independent will be familiar.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Mathematics

Content Area Standard:

Mathematics: Expressions & Equations: Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations. CCSS.Math.Content.7.EE.B.3 Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.

English Language Arts Standards for Speaking & Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have a class discussion about wants versus needs. Talk about spending and have students make a budget, like Claudia and Jamie. Have students take a virtual tour of the Metropolitan museum of Art and write about their favorite pieces, then discuss and share with the class. Have the class read and discuss the article from Met Kids about how the author came to write Claudia and Jamie’s story at the Met.

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Awards: Newbery Medal; NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; SLJ Best Book; ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Claudia the mastermind behind running away to the museum, her younger brother Jamie who is in charge of finances for the two, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler who is the narrator and former owner of the Angel statue.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed this adventure in the city, particularly because I have always been fascinated by museums and their priceless treasures. The two children reminded me of squabbles with my own younger brother as a child.

High interest annotation: When Claudia and Jamie ran away and took up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they never imagined they would become mixed up with the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

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My Name is Yoon

Bibliographic Information: Recorvits, Helen (2003). My Name is Yoon. New York: Frances Foster Books.

Plot Description: Yoon is a young girl who has just moved to the United States from Korea. In preparation for going to school she must learn to write her name in English. She does not like the way the lines and circles of her name look standing alone, instead of ‘dancing together’ as they do in Korean. On the first day of school the teacher shows pictures and sings a song about a cat. Yoon does not know what the word CAT means, but she knows what the picture says. The teacher gives her a paper to practice writing her name, but instead of Yoon, she writes CAT over and over. The teacher says, “so you are Cat?” and the girl behind her giggles. Each day she imagines herself as something else and writes that instead of her name. One day she makes friends with a girl who gives her a cupcake and she writes Cupcake on her paper instead of her name. The teacher smiles when she reads it. When Yoon gets home she sings a song she learned in English for her parents and tells them about her new friend. They are very proud. The next day at school she could hardly wait to write. This time she wrote Yoon.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 320L Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 2.3

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The text consists of simple sentences. The reader sees Yoon’s name written in Korean, but it is explained what the symbol means. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl. Sentences are not complex. They are simple, as if a child were talking. The pictures help to illustrate the meaning of the text. For example, when Yoon wishes she were something else, like a cat, a bird or a cupcake, she is drawn as those things to show what she is imagining. The pictures are not necessary for comprehension, but they help the story come to life. Poetic language is used as Yoon makes her wishes, using metaphors to say she is different things. Organization is sequential and chronological. Explores themes of adjustment, as Yoon begins her life in the US. Experiences may be familiar to immigrant students and show other readers what the immigrant experience is like for children.

Content Area: Reading, Language Arts

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: College and Career Readiness: Anchor Standards for Writing:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.8 Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Curriculum Suggestions: Ask students what their names mean. Have them research their names and write about whether or not they think their name fits them. Then have students create acrostic poems with their names.

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Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; SLJ Best Book; Publishers Weekly Best Book; Booklist Editors’ Choice; Ezra Jack Keats Award

Character names/descriptions: Yoon, a young Korean girl who has just moved to the US and at first experiences some trouble adjusting to her new home.

Personal Thoughts: This would be a great book to share with ELL, for them to connect with Yoon’s character and her initial discomfort in her new country, but also for other students to better understand how immigrant students feel and perhaps make them more accepting.

High interest annotation: Yoon doesn’t like the way her name looks in English. When her new teacher asks her to write her name, Yoon imagines all types of creative things to be instead of Yoon.

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Bibliographic Information: Yashima, Taro (1958). Umbrella. New York: Viking.

Plot Description: Momo is given two gifts on her third birthday: a pair of rubber boots and an umbrella. She is so excited that she wakes up in the middle of the night to look at them, but the next day it does not rain. Nor the next day, nor the next. Momo wants to use her umbrella, but the rain does not come. She thinks of other reasons besides rain, for using her umbrella, like to shield her eyes from the bright sun. Her mother tells her to save the umbrella for a rainy day, so she keeps waiting and waiting. Finally, after many days it rains. In her excitement to get out in the rain, Momo pulls on her boots without socks and rushes outside to experience the sound of rain on her very own umbrella for the first time.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: AD480L Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 4

Qualitative Reading Analysis: Organization of the text structure is clear, chronological and easy to predict. Illustrations directly support and assist in the understanding of the story, but are not necessary for comprehension. The language is largely explicit and easy to understand, with some occasions for more complex meaning. For example, Momo thinks it is a very special day because she uses her umbrella for the first time. Her mother shares that even though Momo does not remember the events of the story, it is an important day in her life because it is the first time she walked alone, without holding one of her parent’s hands. The vocabulary is familiar, though some of the wording is a little strange, such as Momo asking, “Why the rain doesn’t fall?” because the character is a small child, who is still learning language. Sentences are mostly simple and compound, with some complex phrases. There are no references to other texts. Experiences of being excited about something will be common to readers and many will also know the frustrations of not being able to use something they are excited about having.

Content Area: Reading, Language Arts

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration:

English Language Arts Standards for Speaking & Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students identify characters and discuss their actions. Have students compare characters lives to their own using Venn diagrams or semantic maps. Students retell the story in their own words.

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Awards: Caldecott Honor

Character names/descriptions: Momo is a three year old Japanese American girl living in New York City who loves the umbrella she got for her birthday and longs for the rain to come so she can finally use it.

Personal Thoughts: This is a sweet story that will be enjoyed by children and parents, as both will be able to relate to characters in the book.

High interest annotation: Momo can’t wait for it to rain so she can use her new birthday boots and umbrella

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Bibliographic Information:

Lowry, Lois (1989). Number the stars. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books.

Plot Description: Ten year old Annemarie’s world is changing. The Nazis have taken over Denmark and German soldiers are posted on every street corner. Electricity is rationed, there is no more butter or sugar for cupcakes and the whole city has a curfew. However, these inconveniences turn to something much more dangerous as the Nazis start ‘relocating’ Jewish people. Annemarie’s best friend Ellen and her family are Jewish. How can they escape? Ellen comes to stay with Annemarie and pretends to be a part of her family in order to hide from the Nazis, while her parents go to an unknown location. Annemarie overhears talk of ‘fishing weather’ that makes no sense and soon her family and Ellen are off to stay with Uncle Henrik by the sea. It is there that Annemarie learns the meaning of the strange conversation she overheard and must gather all her courage when she becomes the only one who can stop the Nazis from discovering her friends as they attempt to escape.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 670L, ATOS Book Level: 4.5, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), Recommended Reading-California Recommended Lit. English Grade 3-5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told in third person limited, from Annemarie’s perspective. She is a child, so does not have all the information. So the reader must try to understand events without all the facts, just as Annemarie does. Some meanings are stated, while others are left for the reader to discover. There is limited figurative language, with nature used as a metaphor. Organization is conventional and mostly sequential, with a few flashbacks. Register is casual and language is familiar. Sentences are mostly simple and compound, with some complex construction. There is distance between the experiences in the text and those of the reader, as not many will have had to be brave to save lives, but many will be able to connect with the idea of being brave to help those you love. Some background knowledge about World War II would be useful, but is not necessary for understanding, as the text explains the circumstances as well as a ten year old girl can understand them.

Content Area: Reading, History (World History-World War II)

Content Area Standard: History-Social Science Standards for CA: Grades 6-8

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Research, Evidence, and Point of View

  1. Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
  2. Students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories.
  3. Students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.
  4. Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound con­clusions from them.

English Language Arts Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Curriculum Suggestions: Students define bravery and write about their own experiences of courage. Discuss point of view and the author’s choice of a young girl who does not have all the facts, as the narrator. Research the Danish resistance movement during World War II. Keep track of the code phrases used by characters helping the Jews escape and give the real meaning of the phrase. Keep track of metaphors and symbols in the novel and discuss how they aid in the readers understanding of the story. Discuss story telling elements such as rising action, climax and falling action.

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Awards: Newbery Medal, Jane Addams Book Award, Sydney Taylor Award, ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Annemarie-A 10 year old girl living in occupied Denmark during World War II and her best friend Ellen, who is Jewish.

Personal Thoughts: I remember reading this book as a child and loving it. I thought Annemarie was so brave. I think seeing the events through the eyes of someone around their age will help students connect with the story and get them interested in World War II history.

High interest annotation: Annemarie must go on a dangerous journey to help save her friend from the Nazis.

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