Tag Archives: friendship

Clink clank clunk!

Bibliographic Information: Aroner, Miriam. (2006). Clink clank clunk!. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Boyds Mills Press.

Plot Description: As Rabbit drives to town one day, he sees many friends along the way. First there is Mole, who pops up from his hole to ask for a ride. Then they see Squirrel who trades a berry for a ride. Next it is Porcupine who is going into town for a quill trim. As each animal joins the car pool, Rabbit’s old car makes different noises that show there may be trouble. Next they pick up Possum as the car hisses and fizzles. Followed by Beaver, Crow and Skunk, who is warned he will be kicked out if he sprays. The car countinues to make more noises: tucka, tucka, thunk! The final two passengers are Fox and Cow. Clankity, clunk, boom! The car breaks down and the friends must work together to get it to town. Rabbit’s car is a wreck. How will they get home?

Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: N/A Interest Level: Lower Grades ATOS Book Level: 2

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story features figurative language. Each time a new animal gets in for a ride, the car makes new noises, which are onomatopoeia. Organization is chronological, sequential and conventional. Transitions lead the reader through the story. There is a pattern young readers will be able to follow and use to predict the sequence of events. The majority of the pages start with an animal being spotted along the road to town and asking for a ride. The opposite page features figurative language (onomatopoeia) of the sounds the car is making as it slowly breaks down. Text features organize the information and guide the reader. For example, all the sounds the car makes are in a different font than the rest of the text, as well as being a larger font size and bolded. The last sound on each page is in a different color than the rest of the story, with the exception of the first letter of the text on the opposite page, which is also large and the same color. So the first letter and the last word of the two page layout are matching in color. Counting is also reinforced in the story each time a new animal gets in the car the number of passengers is stated.

Content Area: Reading, Literature

Content Area Standard:

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6 Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

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.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Foundational Skills: Fluency: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.4.b Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

Curriculum Suggestions: After the teacher has read the story aloud have students take turns reading the lines of the different animals using expression, tone and rhythm. Teach students about figurative language and in particular onomatopoeia and have them find as many examples as they can from the text. Ask students how the author uses rhythm and figurative language to convey meaning. Have students write their own short story or sentences using onomatopoeia.

Supporting Digital Content:


Character names/descriptions: Rabbit is a friendly animal, whose old car is a means of transport for all the animals he meets on his way to town.

Personal Thoughts: I think kids will enjoy the onomatopoeia sounds and there is a message of generosity, as Rabbit gives everyone a ride and working together as the animals team up to get Rabbit’s car to town.

High interest annotation: Rabbit drives his clunker car to town and picks up all his animal friends along the way, but as they drive along the car makes mysterious noises: clink, clank, clunk!

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Filed under Reading For Pleasure (Picture Books)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Bibliographic Information:

Chbosky, Stephen (1999). The perks of being a wallflower. Pocket Books: New York.

Plot Description: This is Charlie’s coming-of-age story, told in his own words. Through his letters to an unknown person, we see Charlie’s first year of high school. He shares his trials and tribulations, as well as his triumphs, as he tries to figuring out who he is and where he belongs in the world. After his best friend’s death the year before, he had a break down and spend time in a mental hospital. Charlie is a loner as school begins. Then he befriends a group of Seniors at a football game and slowly becomes a part of their world. Through observing and then ‘participating’ (as his favorite teacher tells him to do) he has both successful and detrimental results as he navigates high school, family relationships, friendship, acceptance and love.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 720L, ATOS Book Level: 4.8, Interest Level: Upper Grades (9-12), AR Points: 9

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The genre is familiar. The story is a first person narrative being told in letter form to an unknown recipient. The narrator is generally reliable (but not always), with a limited point of view. He uses stream of consciousness, as if he were speaking to someone, with little asides and explanations and opinions on people and events, as he sees them. The organization is conventional, but on occasion briefly shifts to the past before returning to the main story timeline. There are subplots and time shifts as he remembers snippets of his childhood and Aunt Helen, who died when he was young. Charlie (and the reader with him), slowly uncover more about the past as the story unfolds. The characters are more complex and not always understood because the reader only knows the characters through the eyes of the narrator. I would consider the text very complex based on these attributes of text structure, but not on it’s vocabulary, which is contemporary, familiar and conversational, while the conventionality is largely explicit and easy to understand, making the language features moderately complex. For knowledge demands I would put it in very complex because there are references and allusions to other texts and cultural elements, it explores themes of varying levels of complexity and abstraction and some of the experiences will be outside of most readers experiences. There are also many experiences that readers will be able to relate to, such as grief, trying to fit in, making friends, dating, family relationships, choices about sex, drugs & alcohol. Some themes are clear, while others are more subtly revealed over the course of the novel.

Content Area: English, Literature

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

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

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.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Curriculum Suggestions: Ask students to write their own (real or imagined) narrative of a coming of age event such as the first day of high school, first date, forming of friendship, etc. Students can write a letter to themselves like Charlie’s at the beginning of the school year, telling about their hopes, fears, goals, etc for the coming year and offering advice and encouragement to themselves. Respond to one of Charlie’s letter’s as if you were the recipient. Comment on what he has told you and offer your advice. Have students research suicide in teens and suicide prevention. Write an essay on how you would help Charlie cope if he was your friend. Rewrite one of the scenes in the book from another character’s point of view. Read this book paired with another coming of age tale, such as The Catcher in the Rye and have students do a comparative analysis.

Supporting Digital Content: 




Awards: SLJ Best Book, ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Charlie: the narrator, Sam: the girl he is in love with, Patrick: his best friend and Sam’s step-brother, Mary Elizabeth: a Goth Girl who has a romantic interest in Charlie and is Sam’s close friend, Aunt Helen: his dead aunt who he thinks of often.

High interest annotation: Starting high school is rough. Especially for shy, Charlie. Will he stay on the sidelines observing or gain the courage to take risks, find himself and fully participate in life?

Personal Notes: I enjoyed this novel and think it would be good for reluctant readers. It deals with a lot of ‘controversial’ issues and real life pressures and choices facing teens, so I think many would find it relatable.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Bibliographic Information:

Alexie, Sherman (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Plot Description: Arnold (known as Junior), is a Spokane Indian boy who lives on the reservation with his parents, older sister and grandmother. He has health issues and is constantly picked on by the other Indians. His only friend is Rowdy, a tough kid. After an incident at school, Arnold is persuaded by his teacher that the only chance he has of really learning and making something of himself, is if he leaves the reservation. So he transfers to the closest school off the reservation (more than 20 miles away). The Indians on the reservation resent him for leaving and life becomes even more miserable when he is no longer just an outsider, but a traitor. He hopes his new school will make up for the ridicule he receives. Arnold gets to school any way he can: getting rides from his family (when they have gas money), hitchhiking and even walking. How will he be perceived by the white students and teachers? Will he be able to alter their perceptions? Is he destined to always be an outsider or will he find a way to connect with his new classmates and most importantly, his new crush Penelope?

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 600L, ATOS Book Level: 4 , Interest Level: Upper Grades (9-12), AR Points: 6

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The text organization adheres to conventions and its structure is clear and chronological, with some temporary shifts in time. There are illustrations which are suppose to be drawings and comics made by the narrator, which augment the story and help explain or depict events, often in a humorous way. Different fonts, text sizes and bolding also draw the readers attention to the drawings. The language is straightforward and easy to understand. The register is familiar and casual, with a small bit of academic language during one scene with a ‘genius’ student. Some experiences may be uncommon to the reader like living in a community like a reservation, but most students will relate to feelings of grief, loneliness, wanting to fit in, etc. References to texts or cultural events are explained. Theme is clear, but also contains some subtlety. First person narration provides accurate depiction of events, but only from one point of view.

Content Area: English, Literature, History

Content Area Standard: CA CCSS Writing Standards for Literacy in History, Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects

Research to Build and Present Knowledge 8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.

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.

Curriculum Suggestions: Students research the history of the Spokane Indian Tribe. Look at maps of the Tribe’s past and current boarders. Have students create a list of their tribes, like the one made by Arnold in the book. Have students create their own illustrations or comics in one of the styles Arnold uses. Students can write an essay on what Arnold learns through the course of the book. How does Arnold cope with adversity and grief? Have students write about how they would cope with the situations Arnold faces.

Supporting Digital Content: 




Awards: Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Kirkus Editors Choice/Best Book, YALSA Top Ten, New York Times Best Books, BCCB Blue Ribbon Book, National Book Award, Horn Book Fanfare, Publishers Weekly Best Book, American Indian Youth Literature Award, SLJ Best Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award/Honors

Character names/descriptions: Arnold Spirit (Junior) a smart high school freshman who faces ridicule when he transfers from the school on the reservation where he lives in order to further his education, Arnold’s Father is an alcoholic who disappears on drinking binges, but is always there to support Arnold for his games and performances. Arnold’s Mother, Arnold’s Grandmother who loves to travel to Powwows and is very tolerant. Mary is Arthur’s older sister who hasn’t left the basement in years, Rowdy is a tough kid with an abusive father and Arnold’s best friend on the Rez, Eugene is Arnold’s Father’s best friend and an important person in Arnold’s life, Penelope the white girl Arnold loves, Roger a popular basketball player at Reardan High

Personal Thoughts: This is a coming of age story, further complicated by issues of ethnic identity. I have discussed the book with several second generation American students who easily identify with Arnold as they search for a balance between trying to belong in their family’s culture and fitting in with American culture. I think it will be a hit with students, especially at my mostly minority school.

High interest annotation: Can a nerdy, sickly Indian boy make it in the ‘white world’? Arnold plans to find out when he transfers to a school off the reservation after he figures out that he has to leave in order to follow his dreams.

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Yo! Yes?

Bibliographic Information:

Raschka, Chris (1993). Yo! Yes?. New York: Orchard Books.

Plot Description: Two lonely boys meet on a city street and through an exchange of one or two word phrases they go from uncertainty about each other to friendship. The African American boy starts the conversation with, ‘Yo’ and the shy white boy hesitantly replies, ‘Yes?’ Through their exchange we discover that they are lonely, but happily they have found a friend in each other. There a total of 33 words in the entire story (including the words that are repeated).

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: BR (Beginning Reader), Interest Level: Lower Grades (K),

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The entire story is made up of only 33 words. Sentences are all simple and none more than two words long. There are no allusions to other texts. The themes of loneliness and companionship are explored. Experiences of speaking to strangers on the street may be common to some, but not to others. Students will likely be able to relate the experience to making a new friend by striking up a conversation somewhere like school, the park, daycare, community activities, etc. The conventionality is largely explicit and easy to understand. A bit more depth is required in interpreting the bigger questions behind their one and two word phrases. The illustrations help convey the emotions behind the short dialogue. The sadness and loneliness behind ‘no friends’ is amplified by the downcast eyes and slump of the illustration, just as the jubilation of both boys when they agree to become friends, is amplified by not only the word ‘yow!’ but the jumping for joy conveyed in the illustration.

Content Area: English, Literature

Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards: Reading

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.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.7 Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Curriculum Suggestions: Have students discuss the dialogue in the story and the author’s choice of words and rhythm. How do the illustrations help fill in what the sparse dialogue leaves out. Have students illustrate their own meeting with a friend and provide captions. Discuss the similarities and differences between the boys. How are their similarities more important than their differences?

Supporting Digital Content: 



Character names/descriptions: The characters are unnamed boys looking for friendship. One is an outgoing African American boy and the other is a reserved Caucasian boy.

High interest annotation: Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words to convey your thoughts.

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When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Bibliographic Information:
Stead, Rebecca (2009). When you reach me. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

Plot Description: Miranda is a 12 year-old New York City girl who carries around a tattered copy of A Wrinkle in Time and helps her mom prepare to be a game show contestant. She faces many of the same obstacles a normal girl her age would face, such as trying to maintain relationships with her family (her mother and mother’s boyfriend) and the friends she loses and makes along the way, while at the same time attempting to make sense of a series of odd notes addressed to her that seem to imply her favorite book is not so fantastical and time travel is actually possible. If that is true, whoever is leaving the notes needs Miranda’s help in a life and death situation.

Quantitative Reading Level:  Lexile Measure: 750L, Interest Level: Middle Grades 4-8, ATOS Book Level:4.5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: Organization includes sub-plots, a non-linear plot line that shifts in time and more complex characters. The vocabulary is mostly contemporary, familiar, conversational and adheres to the reader’s linguistic base. First person narration provides accurate but limited perspectives or viewpoints. The sentence structure is mostly simple and compound. There are multiple themes of varying complexity. Most are clear, but subtly conveyed. The story includes references to a prior literary work: A Wrinkle in Time. Some of the concepts from that work are discussed in this story, but things are explained in a way that even those unfamiliar with the book will understand the references. Allusions to cultural elements of 1970’s city life and pop culture (like the game show Miranda’s mom is a contestant on) are present, but explained so that those who are unfamiliar will not have any comprehension issues. Time travel is not a concept readers will have experienced, but issues of self-identity, friendship, family, bullying, discrimination, etc will be common to most readers.

Content Area: Reading, Literature, Science (Physics)

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

Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature

Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Curriculum Suggestions: Group discussion of the book’s themes, such as friendship, family, bullying, social classes, self-identity, fear, etc. Have students discuss why the book is called a ‘hybrid’ genre. Which genres could it fit in and why? Knowing that A Wrinkle in Time is Miranda’s favorite book, what can we predict about her character? Make connections between the two novels: how are they similar? Common themes? Characters? Etc.

Supporting Digital Content:



Awards: Newberry Award, Kirkus Editors Choice/Best Book, New York Times Best Books, NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, Horn Book Fanfare, YALSA Top Ten, Horn Book Award, School Library Journal Best Book, Publishers Weekly Best Book, ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Miranda: a 12 year old New York City girl, Sal: her neighbor and longtime friend, Colin & Annemarie: her new friends, Marcus: a strange neighborhood boy.

Personal Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in two sittings. The short chapters added to the feeling that I was flying through it. I recommend this book for middle grades and up.

High interest annotation: Miranda must unravel the mystery behind a series of bizarre notes that seem to confirm time travel is possible and her help is necessary to save a life.

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Filed under Classic/Contemporary Novel Pairing