Tag Archives: courage


Bibliographic Information:

Roth, Veronica (2011). Divergent. New York: HarperCollins.

Plot Description: In a future Chicago where people are divided into factions that honor each honor different virtues: truth, service to others, friendship, knowledge and courage. Beatrice has never truly felt like she belonged in her faction. Then her aptitude test reveals the reason. She is not like the others. She does not fit nicely into one faction. She has traits of multiple factions. She is something dangerous: Divergent. Beatrice is told not to let anyone know her results. She chooses to be brave and join the fearless faction of Dauntless. Once there she becomes Tris and faces a grueling initiation process, where only the strong survive. Along the way Tris makes enemies, as well as befriending other initiates and forming a special bond with her mysterious instructor, Four. However, initiation is not the only perilous thing she must face. Tris learns some of the faction leaders are hunting the Divergent and have sinister plans for the members of both her old and new factions.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: HL700L, ATOS Book Level: 4.8, Interest Level: Upper Grades (9-12), AR Points: 16

Qualitative Reading Analysis: Includes subplots, time shifts and complex characters. Explores themes of varying levels of complexity and abstractions. There is distance between the reader’s experiences and those in the text. Experiences are unfamiliar, as they take place in a future world, but some themes and issues will be familiar, such as fitting in, finding your place, family loyalty, individuality, struggle, etc. However, most students will hopefully not have experience fighting for survival. Register is casual and familiar. Vocabulary is rarely overly academic or strange to the reader. Unfamiliar concepts and societal structures of the future world setting are explained to the narrator’s understanding of them. Sentence structure is mostly simple, compound and some complex construction. Narration is first person and reliable, but limited to the narrator’s knowledge and perspective. Genre is familiar and text is consistent with the rules of that genre. Organization also adheres to convention.

Content Area: English, Literature

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

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 take an online quiz to see which faction they have traits of and then explain which faction they would chose and why. Have students draw which tattoos they would have if they were in Dauntless. Students create their own faction in groups. Analyze characters’ personalities and behaviors and why you think they make the choices they do, based on what we know about them from reading the book. Have students rewrite a scene from a different character’s point of view.

Supporting Digital Content: 





Awards: SLJ Best Book, Publishers Weekly Best Book

Series: Book 1 of Divergent Series

Character names/descriptions: Beatrice (Tris) the narrator who learns she is different (Divergent) and must learn to use those differences to help her society, Tobias (Four) another Divergent who is Tris’ instructor and love interest, Eric an evil Dauntless leader, Jeannie Matthews is the Erudite leader with horrific plans to control the population, Will and Christina are Tris’ new friends, Peter is her enemy

 High interest annotation: Tris learns why she has never felt like she fit in and now she must use the dangerous secret of her Divergence to save her society from destruction.

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Filed under Diverse Characters

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.

Supporting Digital Content: 




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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Filed under Historical Fiction Novel

Amelia lost: The life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

Bibliographic Information:
Fleming, Candace (2011). Amelia lost: The life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.

Plot Description: This book is a biography of Amelia Earhart, from her birth, childhood, family life, education, work, first interest in flying , pilot lessons, rise to fame, carefully cultivated public persona, record breaking flights, marriage and final journey. Interspersed throughout her life story are accounts from the search for her missing plane. The story of Amelia’s life is broken up by accounts from those who heard her last messages. It begins with the ship docked near her intended landing spot to help her find the tiny island, which would became part of the search party, as well as others involved in the search, both on land, in the air and at sea. There are also accounts from average people who claim to have heard her distress signals on their home shortwave radios.

Quantitative Reading Level :  Lexile Measure: 930L, ATOS Book Level: 6.6, Interest Level: Middle Grades 4-8, Ages 8-12 is printed on the inside of the jacket

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The text structure features two different story lines (Amelia’s life story and the search for her missing plane) that are both chronological, but alternates between the two. Interspersed throughout her life story are accounts of the search. This juxtaposition between her life and the mystery that surrounds her disappearance, heighten the readers interest and are done in a way that it is very obvious when there is a switch, so there is not confusion for the reader. Photographs, maps and charts give supplemental information throughout the text to enrich understanding of the time period, aviation and important events, but are usually not necessary for understanding. Vocabulary is familiar and relies on common knowledge, with some discipline specific aviation terms, which are explained. The sentences are mostly complex in structure. Whenever there are references to outside ideas or events they are explained for the reader.

Content Area: Reading, History (US History)

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for College and Career Readiness: Anchor Standard for Reading

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1

English Language Arts Standards for Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

English Language Arts: History/Social Studies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5 Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

History-Social Science Standards for CA: Grades 6-8

Historical Interpretation

  1. Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.
  2. Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including the long- and short-term causal relations.
  3. Students recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.
  4. Students recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new informa­tion is uncovered.

Curriculum Suggestions: Social Studies-Have students look for primary sources on the internet, such as photographs, news stories, news reels, audio recordings, etc that feature Amelia Earhart or her disappearance. Have students do an investigation on women in flight since Earhart. Use Google Earth to map Earhart’s flight. Language Arts-Have students write the end to Amelia’s story from her point of view. Analyze the authors structural choices in breaking up Amelia’s life story with accounts of the search for her missing plane.

Supporting Digital Content:




Awards: Orbis Pictus Honor, Kirkus Editors Choice/Best Book, School Library Journal Best Book, Golden Kite Award/Honor Book

Character names/descriptions: Amelia Earhart, a pioneer in aviation and women’s independence.

High interest annotation: The life of one of the most well known aviation pioneers in history intermingled with the mysterious disappearance of her plane and firsthand accounts of the subsequent search efforts.

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Filed under Non-fiction Historical Work

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Bibliographic Information:
L’Engle, Madeleine (2005). A wrinkle in time. New York: Laurel-Leaf.

Plot Description: Meg is a Teen girl who doesn’t feel she fits in, the only one who understands her is her young brother Charles Wallace. These two must go on a fantastical journey through time to find their missing father, who may be in danger. They are accompanied on their quest through time and space by Calvin, an older boy from Meg’s school and aided by three strange ‘unearthly’ old women: Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, all of whom are certainly much more than meets the eye. Their journey takes them to several planets, one of which is ruled by ‘IT’ an evil disembodied brain that bends the population to its will and forces everyone into conformity. The children try to resist being hypnotized and taken over by ‘IT’. In order to save them from evil Meg must discover on her own, the one thing she has that ‘IT’ does not.

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 740L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.7 Common Core State Standards Appendix B Titles-CCSS Grade Band 6-8

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The book contains figurative language such as symbolism, metaphors, allusions and imagery. There is also some science vocabulary relating to physics concepts and time travel. Multiple themes such as struggle to fit in, conformity, good vs. evil, fate and free will are familiar to many readers, however the experiences in the book are not. First person narration provides accurate but limited perspectives or viewpoints. The text structure includes shifts in time and more complex characters, such as a 5 year old with special gifts that make him wise far beyond his years with an ability to read people, in addition to other worldly creatures that can change their appearance. The book contains elements of both moderately and very complex texts according to the SCASS Rubric, thus I would simply call it complex. However, the CCSS call it somewhat complex.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Science (Physics & Astronomy)

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

Curriculum Suggestions: Examine literary devices, plot, theme, figurative language, character development, etc used in the novel. Discuss themes of self-perception, courage and place in family & school. Write a continuation to a chapter or end of novel. Create your own fictional planet and its inhabitants. Use the special edition of the book and read the essay on science in the novel as an opener for further learning and discussion of scientific theories related to the story.

Supporting Digital Content: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/sites/default/files/asset/file/a-wrinkle-in-time-bookfile.pdf



Awards: Newberry Medal, NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, School Library Journal Best Book, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

Series information: Time Quartet

Character names/descriptions: Meg an awkward high school girl who travels through time to rescue her father , Charles Wallace Meg’s highly intelligent 5 year old brother who has a gift for reading people, Calvin a popular neighbor boy who accompanies Meg and Charles Wallace on their journey.

Additional Information: This Special Edition includes an essay about the real-life science that inspired the book.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to middle and high school students, especially those who enjoy fantasy or adventure.

High interest annotation: Three young people travel through space and time to fight evil.

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Filed under Classic/Contemporary Novel Pairing