George Washington’s Teeth

Bibliographical Information: Chandra, D. (2003). George Washington’s Teeth. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

Brief Annotation: This book is both factual and witty and provides the many accounts of George Washington losing his teeth.

Genre: Social Studies

Grade Level: Pre-K-3

Readers who will like this: I think anyone would enjoy this book.  It is a funny way of telling the actual ways that George Washington lost his teeth.  Young children may relate to this as they are losing their own teeth!

Rating/Response: 5 I loved this book.  I think it is great to incorporate in the classroom as children begin learning about George Washington.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: From what we have learned about George Washington, have we learned anything about his teeth? If not, what do you think happened to them?

Reading Strategy: Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: I chose this book because I like witty books and I feel that it keeps children engaged.  I could see myself using this book to introduce a lesson during a social studies unit in my classroom.

Posted by: Brittany Billiet


January’s Sparrow

Bibliographic Information: Polacco, Patricia. January’s Sparrow. New York: Philomel Books, 2009. Print.

Brief Annotation: This book tells the true story of a family of slaves – the Crosswhites – who run away to Canada in search of freedom, and stop to stay in Marshall, Michigan on the way. It’s told in the third person, but follows specifically the young daughter of the family, Sadie.

Genre: Historical Fiction (fictionalized accounts of true events)

Grade Level: 5-6

Readers who will like this: Students who like suspense; students who like history, especially those interested in slavery.

Rating/Response: 5 – This is a beautiful, detailed book that makes a real-life story truly come alive. It leaves nothing out, but is still accessible to non-adult readers. I always enjoy Patricia Polacco’s attention to storytelling and illustration, and this book is no exception to that.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you know about the Underground Railroad?

Reading Strategy: Questioning, Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: This book is an excellent source for students who have had some years of experience learning about slavery in the US. It specifically talks about runaway slaves, the Underground Railroad, and the help along the way. It’s great for asking questions about content and about the elements of the story as well. The lesson can begin with students asking questions about the Underground Railroad experience and keeping track as to whether they’re answered in the story. While reading, students can ask questions specific to the text. After reading, students can ask questions they still have about the Crosswhite family, and about slavery and the Underground Railroad as a whole, which can launch into a unit on slavery, using the Crosswhites as a focus. The book can be graphic at some points (a slave is beaten in the beginning), so I’d use it with older readers. It’s also quite long for a picture book, so I would be sure to set aside a lot of time in one lesson to read it, or read it over two days.

Posted by: Caitlin Miller

Goin’ Someplace Special

Bibliographic Information: McKissack, Pat, and Jerry Pinkney. Goin’ Someplace Special. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2000. Print.

Brief Annotation: This story takes place in a segregated southern 1950’s town and follows the journey of an African American girl named ‘Tricia Ann on her way to Someplace Special. Along the way, she is met with “Whites Only”  signs and ignorant people, but soon finds herself at Someplace Special – the public library where “All Are Welcome.”

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade Level: 3-6

Readers who will like this: Children who enjoy historical fiction, especially those interested in the Civil Rights Movement. Primary and mid-level elementary students love to be kept guessing and will enjoy trying to infer where ‘Tricia’s Someplace Special is.

Rating/Response: 5 – First of all, I love Jerry Pinkney’s detailed and engaging illustrations. Secondly, I really like how this story takes a large issue and scales it down to a personal story with which children can relate and be engaged. It’ll capture students’ curiosity and sympathy almost immediately, and guarantees a genuine conversation about the big issues in the Civil Rights era. This story is actually based on author Patricia C. McKissack’s real experiences as a girl in segregated Nashville!

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Where is someplace special for you that you enjoy going to? Why do you enjoy going there (how does it make you feel?)?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing, Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: This book offers opportunities to infer/make predictions, make personal connections, and ask questions. I can see so many ways to use this in the elementary classroom – it can act as an introduction to the Civil Rights movement, or give students with a basic understanding of that era a way to personalize and understand the implications of the time. Students can monitor their change in thinking about segregation as well as the importance of libraries/reading.

Posted by: Caitlin Miller

We Are All Born Free

We are all born free : the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pictures

Bibliographic Information: Amnesty International. (2008). We are all born free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pictures. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books in association with Amnesty International.

Brief Annotation: We all have the right, lets learn about the thirty laws that protect the whole world.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade Level: K-8

Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy reading about the historical documents; children who enjoy picture books.

Rating/Response: 5- This is a great book with illustrations that match the laws presented in the book.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What is your definition of Human Rights?

Reading Strategy: Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: Human Rights and the right to freedom and  equality is something that is very important to know about, this book is a presentation of the Human Rights Declaration, it is written and illustrated in away that children of all ages would understand the meaning of human rights and the laws present to protect them.

Posted by: Yesenia Corral



Bibliographic Information: Winter, J., & Juan, A. (2002). Frida. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

Brief Annotation: A wold wide famous painter called Frida Kahlo lived a life full of struggles, lets walk through her child her journey to find out how those struggles influenced her life and how painting helped her get through those struggles.

Genre: Biography

Grade Level: K-4

Readers who will like this: Children who enjoy art; children who like to learn about different cultures; who enjoy biographies.

Rating/Response: 5- This is such an amazing book that gives factual information about Frida Kahlo’s life journey. In addition the illustrations are very vivid and realistic to the the life she lived while growing up, they all connect making this story even more interesting.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Think about when you paint, what do you feel when you are painting?

Reading Strategy: Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: In Social studies children are able to learn about different famous woman that influenced the world, Frida Kahlo was one of those women, this a great book to introduce her and her works as an artist.

Posted by: Yesenia Corral

Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock

Bibliographic Information: Bair, Sheila. Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock. Morton Grove, IL: A. Whitman, 2006

Brief Annotation: Two brothers, Rock and Brock, could not be more different.  One is tidy, one is messy.  One gets up early, the other sleeps in.  When their grandpa proposes a savings plan where he will match every dollar they save from their allowance each week, one brother saves and the other spends.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this: Students who are interested in math, money, or poetry.

Rating/Response: 4 -This book has beautiful pictures and the rhyming text makes it entertaining while still teaching important concepts

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Do you receive an allowance? Do you save it or spend it?

Reading Strategy: Important Ideas

Rationale for Strategy: This book is a wonderful way to introduce important economic concepts of buying goods and saving money.

Posted by: Olivia Cyr

What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!

Bibliographic Information: Kerley, Barbara. What to Do about Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! New York: Scholastic, 2008

Brief Annotation: This book is an entertaining biography of President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Grade Level: 2-5

Readers who will like this: Students who are interested in history, non-fiction, biographies, and strong female characters.

Rating/Response: 5 – This book is charming and entertaining with stunning illustrations.  A non-fiction book that is just as entertaining as fiction.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you already know about Teddy Roosevelt or his daughter Alice?

Reading Strategy: Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: This book would be wonderful for an American history unit while students are learning about the presidents.

Posted by: Olivia Cyr


Bibliographic Information: Yolen, Jane, and David Shannon. Encounter. San Diego: Voyager Books, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1996. Print.

Brief Annotation: A young Taino boy has a prophetic dream of mysterious visitors coming to his land. When these mysterious white men actually arrive, the boy warns his people not to welcome them, but is pushed aside because he is young.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Grade Level: 3-5

Readers who will like this: Children who are interested in American history; children who enjoy poetic language; children who prefer books from the point of view of children.

Rating/Response: 5 The writing is very powerful and has lots of descriptive imagery. This book offers a point of view that isn’t usually told in the story of Columbus’ arrival in 1492.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you know about Christopher Columbus coming to America? How do you think the Native Americans felt? Specifically, how do you think the children understood the situation?

Reading Strategy: Visualization, Social Studies

Rationale for Strategy: The book would obviously make a very powerful Social Studies lesson, but additionally, there are many beautiful passages describing the boy’s dreamlike perception of the new visitors. You could read the story without showing the pictures, asking students to make illustrations based on the words they hear, then compare to the book. It would really put the students in the same shoes as the boy in the story and help them see what he saw.

Posted by: Caitlin Miller

If You Lived Here

Bibliographic Information: Laroche, Giles. If You Lived Here: Houses of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. Print.

Brief Annotation: The book goes through 16 different beautifully illustrated types of homes in various regions of the world. Each page talks about in what kind of environment your house would be, materials used to build it, when and where you would see these houses, etc.

Genre: Non-fiction

Grade Level: 3-6

Readers who will like this: Students who like learning about different cultures; students who would like to travel; students concerned with global issues.

Rating/ Response: 5 – The collage-style illustrations are beautiful and detailed, and each page of text is factual yet engaging.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What materials is your home built with? Why do you think that?

Reading strategy: Making Connections

Rationale for strategy: You can make global social studies connections about how different homes are built using background knowledge about different environments, resources, social groups, etc, and build new knowledge and perhaps even spur research projects about other homes.

Posted by: Caitlin Miller

Same Sun Here

Bibliographic Information: House, Silas, and Neela Vaswani. Same Sun Here. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2012. Print.

Brief Annotation: This is the story of two 12-year-olds – River, a boy from mountainous Kentucky, and Meena, an Indian immigrant living in New York City – who become pen pals (and, by the end of the story, best friends). The book is told through their letters to each other about issues in school, family, and living in their respective environments.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: 5-6

Readers who will like this: Students who enjoy diverse cultures; students who are concerned about environmental issues; students who are in late elementary school (close in age to the characters); students who enjoy realistic fiction.

Rating/ Response: 5 – This neat book covers many serious and relevant issues. It takes place in 2008, so it covers recent events like the election of Barack Obama. The characters are relateable and their relationship very heartwarming and genuine. The style of letter format is engaging.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you imagine the life of someone living in NYC is like vs. Kentucky? What could these people have in common?

Reading strategy: Free Choice (Chapter Book)

Rationale for strategy: This chapter book would take more than one lesson to read aloud. It can be tied into many lessons – learning to write different kinds of letters, writing to students’  own pen pals across the country, etc. The subject that this ties in most to is social studies due to all the social issues (rent, mountaintop removal, family issues, etc.). Find more ideas on the Classroom Bookshelf blog:

Posted by: Caitlin Miller