Tar Beach

Bibliographical Information: Ringgold, F. (1991). Tar Beach. New York: Crown Publishers.

Brief Annotation: Cassie Lightfoot is a girl dreaming of flying over her neighborhood and imagining being the only one able to fly.  This story brings forth the hardships that people of the lower class in Harlem deal with.

Genre: Synthesizing

Grade Level: Kindergarten-3

Readers who will like this: I think this would be a great book to read in an inner city classroom or with children who do not have the perspective of a life outside the middle class.  This story is great for any elementary readers.

Rating/Response: 4 I think this book is a great representation of the situations that people faced in Harlem back in the day.  I think it encompasses not only the hardships but the belief of freedom and hope that things will change.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever wanted a super power?  What would it be and why?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: I chose to read this book because of the strange title.  I was confused as to what it was about and then read it and understood that it would be a great book to use for synthesizing because of the interesting title as well as the interesting pictures.  Readers are immediately questioning what is going to happen in the story even before opening the book.

Posted by: Brittany Billiet


My Name is Not Isabella

Bibliographic Information: Fosberry, Jennifer, and Mike Litwin. My Name Is Not Isabella. Naperville, IL: Source Jabberwocky, 2010. Print.

Brief Annotation: This book follows a little girl who wants to constantly change her name to be the name of important women who have made a difference in the world.  In the end, she wants to be herself again but have all of the qualities of the women she had named before.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: K-2

Readers who will like this: Students who enjoy wonderfully created pictures and great adventures about wonderful women throughout history will love this book.

Rating/Response: 4 – This book has great pictures and wonderful women.  One of my favorite parts of this book is the last part where the authors introduce all of the women and what they had done in history.  It is an easy read and makes history a little bit easier to understand for students.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Has there ever been someone else you would like to be like?  Like a parent, sibling, someone in history, etc.

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: This book holds a great message that at the end of the day it is good for us each to play the role of ourselves but to remember that we all hold some of the best qualities of some of the greatest people ever.  Some students believe that they can’t be like some of those women that are named in this book but we need to teach them that they can be whatever or whoever they want.

Posted by: Breanna Richey

Cindy Moo

Bibliographic Information: Mortensen, Lori, and Jeff Mack. Cindy Moo. New York: Harper, 2012. Print.

Brief Annotation: This book tells the story of a debate between cows about whether or not a cow can jump over the moon.  Finally one cow, named Cindy Moo, decides to actually try it.  Will she be able to do it or will she fail?

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: K-3

Readers who will like this: Students who are interested in old nursery rhymes or know of them will love this book!

Rating/Response: 4– This book is silly and creative.  It definitely captured my attention from the first page!  The message that goes along with the book about never giving up is something that all students need to be taught right from the beginning.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Has there ever been a time when you have wanted to give up?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: This book introduces a concept that students believe could not happen, such as jumping over the moon, but then the book proves them wrong and shows them that when you don’t give up you can find a way to make any dream come true.

Posted by: Breanna Richey

Apple Pie 4th of July


Bibliographical Information: Wong, J. S. (2002). Apple Pie 4th of July. San Diego: Harcourt.

Brief Annotation: The young girl in this story is frustrated with her family because she thinks they do not understand the American way of celebrating the Fourth of July and believes their store will get no business on this day.

Genre: Synthesizing

Grade Level: Pre-K-3

Readers who will like this: I think this book is great for students who may feel as if their parents do not understand the American culture and feel different from others.  They can relate to this book and understand that it’s okay to be a different culture and that people still like them just the same.

Rating/Response: 4.5 I liked that this book discussed the cultural differences that children face but that it doesn’t matter what holiday it is, people still appreciate their culture.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever felt as if you and your family are different from other people?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: This book is perfect for synthesizing because it draws upon the preconceived ideas people may have about the Chinese culture or of the Fourth of July and what is expected.  We can dig deeper to the roots of the Fourth of July and the Chinese culture and discuss how they are actually similar in many ways.

Posted by: Brittany Billiet

Silent Music

Bibliographic Information: Rumford, James. Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. New York: Roaring Brook, 2008

Brief Annotation: Silent Music follows the experiences of a little boy named Ali who lives in Baghdad and loves calligraphy.

Genre: Realisitc Fiction

Grade Level: 2-5

Readers who will like this: Students who enjoy stories about art, other countries, and current events.

Rating/Response: 4 – This book is beautifully written and illustrated.  I particularly loved how the author shared the experiences of the little boy through his love of calligraphy.

One question you would ask before a read aloud:  what do you know about the country of Baghdad?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy:  This book allows students to take what they know of Baghdad and change their thinking based on the experiences of the little boy in the book.

Posted by: Olivia Cyr

Tough Boris

Bibliographic Information: Fox, Mem, and Kathryn Brown. Tough Boris. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1994. Print.

Brief Annotation: This simply worded story tells us all about Boris von Borch, a really tough pirate, who cries when his parrot dies.

Genre: Fiction

Grade Level: K-2

Readers who will like this: Children who like pirates will love this story. I feel all students can be engaged with the image of a tough pirate and will be surprised to see he cries in the end.

Rating/Response: 4 – This is a very simply written book that readers can easily take on independently, but you’ll want to read this one with them. The repetitive structure and simple sentences on each page are encouraging for young readers, and the illustrations nicely depict each trait of a pirate (scruffy, greedy, etc.).

One question you would ask before a read aloud: What words would you use to describe a pirate?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: This gives students a chance to monitor their thinking and how it’s changed by the end of the story. Often times, children wouldn’t think that tough people cry, but this story shows otherwise. This book can also be used to teach word choice or characterization as well as reading and phonics, since the pages repeat with “All pirates ___.”

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

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Bibliographic Information: Goble, Paul. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks: Simon & Schuster, 1978. Print.

Brief Annotation: This is a story about a young Native American girl who loves horses. She understands horses in a very special way. She eventually becomes one of them to forever run free.

Genre: Fiction/Native American Folktale

Grade Level: 2 – 6

Reader who will like this: Readers who enjoy cultural stories would love this book! Any reader could connect through the imagery and rich language.

Rating/Response: 5 – This story is beautifully written and illustrated and portrays the Native American culture in a genuine way. That being said, this book might be difficult for younger students as an independent read, and would be better suited as a read aloud. I would definitely use this as an introduction to a lesson/unit revolving around the Native American culture.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever felt like you connect to something in a special way? Explain.

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: Students can take the information presented in the story and connect that to information regarding the Native American culture as a whole. They can also synthesize the sequence of events to find deeper themes.

Posted by: Emma Henke

La Mariposa

Bibliographic Information: Jimenez, Francisco, and Simon Silva. La Mariposa. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.

Brief Annotation: This is a story about a young boy, Francisco (who is actually the author). It is his first year in an American school and he is having trouble understanding the English language. He is drawn to the slow-moving caterpillar next to his desk, whom he relates to. He knows that caterpillars turn into butterflies, but doesn’t know how. He tries to learn the words in an informational book but struggles. The story attempts to promote tolerance for English learners.

Genre: Nonfiction

Grade Level: K – 4

Reader who will like this: English learners, especially those who are native Spanish speakers, would throughly enjoy this story.

Rating/Response: 5 – This is an amazing book that promotes tolerance and patience for those learning English. It would be an awesome story to use as a read aloud in a classroom, especially in a diverse classroom.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Have you ever felt confused or been in a situation in which you couldn’t understand? What did that feel like?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: There are many relevant think aloud opportunities to go along with this story in regards to synthesizing, as students can pick apart the story in regards to the character’s thoughts and feelings and can relate that to their own.

Posted by: Emma Henke

Dory Story

Bibliographic Information: Pallotta, Jerry, and David Biedrzycki. Dory Story. Watertown, MA: Talewinds, 2000. 

Brief Annotation: Danny’s parents told him never to go out in the boat alone. After learning about plankton, Danny desired to see and learn more. He took the boat out into the bay where he witnessed the food chain in the works! Danny’s boat capsized and he grew fearful of the hungry fish. He swam as fast as he could to the rock in the middle of the bay where he heard his mother yelling to him, “Danny, you tell the best stories when you’re in the bathtub!”

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Grade Level: 1-3

Readers who will like this: Students who like learning about marine animals and nature will enjoy this story. Students will like the adventure Danny takes them on as he explores the bay and fish living within it.

Rating/Response: 4. I really liked Dory Story. I was engaged throughout the story and caught by surprise at end. The text was informational about the food chain and involved rich illustrations.

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Does anyone know anything about the food chain?

Reading Strategy: Synthesizing

Rationale for Strategy: While reading Dory Story students will activate their prior knowledge of the food chain and make inferences about what will happen to Danny as he is stranded in the middle of the bay in his boat.

Posted by: Kelsey Peterson