Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins

coverThe Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley; Illustrated by Brian Selznick.

Teacher read aloud: Grades 1-6; Publisher PK-5; Booklist Grades 3-5; AR Interest Level LG; Independent Reading AR 5.0; Lexile AD550L.

Text Structure/Genre: Biography; Narrative non-fiction.

High-Quality Text and Illustrations: Caldecott Honor Book 2002; ALA Notable Children’s Books 2002; Booklist starred.

LC Summary: The true story of Victorian artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, who built life-sized models of dinosaurs in the hope of educating the world about what these awe-inspiring ancient animals were like.

Why should I teach with this book? Picture book non-fiction doesn’t get much better than this: In topic, content, and artistic quality, this non-fiction narrative book is simply one of the best there is.

CCS What Common Core Standards can I teach with this book? NOTE: At the end of this post, look for the red CCS icon I created to indicate for in-depth lesson correlation. CCR RL 7 | CCR RI 6 | CCR RI 7

Read Aloud Guidelines: Suggested questions or points to discuss briefly when reading aloud to increase the students’ comprehension of the text. Buddy up the students in groups of 2 or 3 to give them someone with whom they can discuss their ideas at various points in the read aloud.

book_open2 Endpapers through title page (title/author/illustrator): Discuss the illustrations and information. You will want to skip over the detailed acknowledgments on the verso until another time. What effect is the illustrator giving to the story? Besides being appropriately Victorian, the setting is as if the opening of a magic or theatrical stage show. At the end of the book, discuss why B. Selznick would pair this technical setting with the story of Waterhouse Hawkins. He probably is emphasizing that these hard-to-image, fantastical creatures were real even though they seemed astonishing, or at least they were the best guess at the time of how the dinosaurs might have looked. CCR RL 4 | RL 7 | RI 7

book_open2 Text on page begins: Horse-drawn carriages clattered down the streets. . . Continue reading through the page that begins with. . . Now Waterhouse was busy with a most exciting project. . . Clarify with students, what is the non-fiction aspect of this story and what is the fictitious part? Horse-drawn carriages, children in streets, meeting with people would have been true; what he was thinking there would be no way of knowing unless he wrote the story or left a record of a specific incident. The facts of his life are true–artist; sculpture; helping Richard Owen; and creating dinosaurs for The Crystal Palace. CCS RI 6

book_open2 Text on page begins: Waterhouse threw open the doors to his workshop. Nervously. . .  Check for understanding of the word: violà–French, literally, see there, used to draw attention to something to express satisfaction or approval, or to suggest an appearance as if by magic. CCS RL 4

book_open2 Text on page begins: Designing the creatures was only the first step. . . Draw attention to the amount of work involved in creating the models and to the step-by-step sequence involved.

Check for understanding of the word: eminent–successful, well-known and respected. CCS RL 4

book_open2 Text on page begins: In the weeks that followed, Waterhouse basked in the glow. . . Check for understanding: basked–to enjoy the attention and good feelings expressed by others. CCS RL 4

book_open2 Text on page begins: When the guests arrived, they gasped with delight! Check for meaning “course after course”–a dish, or a set of dishes served together, forming one of the successive parts of a meal. CCR RI 7

book_open2 Text on page begins: The next months passed by in concrete, stone, and iron. . . Note that the “Forty thousand spectators” who attended is just a little under the size of the entire population of Glenview, IL.

book_open2 Text on page begins: Then disaster struck. William “Boss” Tweed. . Check for the students’ understanding of: thwart–prevent (someone) from accomplishing something.

book_open2 Text on page begins: Waterhouse stumbled outside, only to find mounds of dirt and dinosaur rubble. . . The illustration show him stumbling away in a dark rainstorm. When reading aloud, or at the end of the story, ask the students how the illustration communicates the mood and is symbolic, rather than a non-fiction representation, of what is happening in the story. The “dark cloud” is often used to communicate sadness and the cold rain gives the feeling of pain, an uncomfortable and barely tolerable situation that someone would want to flee from.

book_open2 Endpapers. . . Spend time examining the endpapers with the students especially the menu for the dinner hosted by Waterhouse and given for the eminent scientists invited to see his first model, the iguanodon.

Instruction at the Conclusion of the Read-Aloud. Look for my extra-info iconextrainfo: At the end of the story, depending on time discuss other items mentioned in the book to build the students’ background knowledge:

extrainfo Geography: Clarify where London is; where Sydeham Park is relative to London; and exactly what country London is in, e.g., the UK which includes Great Britain, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This Infographic is a good visual to use with the students or  . Also, this YouTube video provides a complete explanation, however, the creator, who is the narrator, speaks so rapidly the video may not be useable for the classroom but is great for teacher background information. (Note: In 2014, Scotland will be voting as to whether or not the country will be independent from the UK.)

extrainfo Depiction of passage of time: Discuss how the illustrator shows the passage of time in the  2-page illustration that begins with “Just as he had hoped, his models were the start of something wonderful. . .” Note the sepia color in the first drawing like the sepia colored photographs of the 1800s and of course, the change in dress styles. It seems to me that the people look short and squat, however, is that because the dinosaur sculptures are so large? Did Selznick downsize the proportions of the people to make the dinosaurs be large and looming? Note that Brian Selznick says that when he was viewing the dinosaurs in the park, a goose bit him so he included the goose in the illustration!

extrainfo Building historical content knowledge: Although Queen Victoria is usually portrayed as she was when older, in 1854 she was years old. Here is a photo of her with her husband and children and here she is in a portrait she had done as a gift for her husband, Albert.

CCS CCS RI 1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas. Hawkins is acknowledged to have had a “lasting influence in paleontology.” Looking at the text of the book, have the students find evidence that Hawkins work was remarkable and had the potential to have a lasting influence.

Divide the students into teams of 2-3 with each student having their own copy of the text. (Email me to request a file of the text only at: libraries_rule (at) yahoo.com.)
Assign students part 1, part 2, or part 3 and have them put brackets around phrases of text that provide evidence to support the idea that Hawkins work was remarkable. You may want to model a paragraph before the students begin to work. When done, discuss the answers found by the groups. Have the students do their work in pencil but correct in pen and/or highlighters to help you assess their skill before and after the activity.

CCS CCS L 5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. Divide the students into teams of 2-3 with each student having their own copy of the text. (Email me to request a file of the text only at: libraries_rule (at) yahoo.com.) Assign students part 1, part 2, or part 3 and have them look for: active verbs; interesting words; and/or interesting patterns of language. Or, look at the pages and discuss each together. Discuss as a group what ordinary words could have been used that would not have had the same impact on the reader. Here are some examples:

Text on page begins: Horse-drawn carriages. . . Strong verbs include: clattered; tipped; ducked and dodged; hurried.

 Text on page begins: Now Waterhouse was busy with a most exciting project. . .  Strong verbs include: prowl, studies, compared, create, gaze. Interesting word choices: “Scientists weren’t sure either, for the only fossils were some bits and pieces–a tooth here, a bone there.”

Text on page begins: In the weeks that followed, Waterhouse basked in the glow. Author’s craft: What feeling is created by how the author wrote this paragraph–The iguanodon mold was hauled outside. A platform was built. A tent erected. Instead of using “and” in-between each phrase, the short sentences give the feeling of action and builds excitement.

Text on page begins: Designing the creatures was only the first step. . . Interesting word choices: “Waterhouse showed his guests the small models he’d made. . . from scales on the nose to nails on the toes.” Point out the quotations around what Waterhouse said. It means that it is taken directly from Waterhouse (is there a reference in the book?Check for understanding of the word: eminent–successful, well-known and respected if not pointed out during read aloud.

Text on page begins: When the guests arrived, they gasped with delight! Discuss the uses of a colon here. Twice it is used to indicate a list. Once it is use for emphasis.

Text on page begins: The next months passed by in concrete, stone, and iron. . . Strong verbs include: mingled, boomed, swelled, gasped, shrieked. Check for understanding of the words regal and dignitaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clever Jack Takes the Cake

bookcoverClever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming; Illustrated by G. Brian Karas.

Teacher read aloud: Grades 1-5; Publisher PS-2; Booklist; AR Interest Level K-3; Independent Reading AR 3.8; Lexile AD600L.

Text Structure/Genre:Narrative; Fairy tale.

High-Quality Text and Illustrations: Booklist Editors’ Choice 2010; Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2010; Parents’ Choice Recommended Book; School Library Journal Best Books of 2010; and more.

Text Structure/Genre: Narrative; Fairy tale.

LC Summary: A poor boy named Jack struggles to deliver a birthday present worthy of the princess.

Why should I teach with this book?

Classic fairy tale structure and features: See information posted by Dr. Mary Magoulick of Georgia College for excellent information about the genre.

Excellent source for word choice used in writing: active, descriptive, concise, depth of meaning in a word.

Excellent prewriting video by Candace Fleming on Reading Rockets website.

What Common Core Standards can I teach with this book? My CCSCCS icon NOTE: Look for the CCS icon for in-depth lesson correlation.

(This list does not include standards that could be taught with almost every book such as “Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.”)

RL K.6-With prompting and support, name the authorand illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story. RL K.7-With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

RL 1.2-Retells stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson. RL 1.3-Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details. RL 1.7-Use illustrations and details in a story to descibe its characters, setting, or events. RL 1.10-With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.

RL 2.3-Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges. RL 2.7-Use information geained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot. RL 2.10-Read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the 2-3 text complexity band proficiently with scaffloding. . .

Read Aloud Guidelines:

Suggested questions or points to discuss briefly when reading aloud to increase the students’ comprehension of the text. Buddy up the students in groups of 2 or 3 to give them someone with whom they can discuss their ideas at various points in the read aloud.

book_open2 Endpapers through title page: After revealing each section, ask the students what they already know about the beginning of the story before the text even began. Draw attention to the invitation falling out of the sack as opposed to being delivered; the blueish ribbon that shows drifting of note through air; the design on the title page that is the inside relief of the invitation, i.e., the stationary minus the decoration on the edge, and the invitation drifting under the door.

book_open2 Text on page begins: One summer morning long ago, a poor boy. . .

Check for the students’ understanding of these words: cottage–small, simple, plain house; opposite of fancy or castle. realm–area of land under a kingdom ruled by a king or queen.

book_open2 Text on page begins: Jack had to admit. . .

Visual joke—to show someone has an idea we usually would show a light bulb but the illustrator uses a candle, why? A lightbulb would be an anachronism, i.e., something belonging to a different time period.

book_open2 Text on page begins: He gathered walnuts. . .

Why does Jack dip the candles? If the students are unfamiliar with candle-making, it might be something to show at another time.

Check for understanding of the words: succulent–tender, juicy, tasty.

What is the root word, base word, for juiciest? Follows spelling rule change the y to an i and add ending.

book_open2Text on page begins: That same night, Jack stood back. . .

Buddy-up and share: Do you think the princess will like the cake? Why or why not? 15-30 sec for each partner to share.

Word choice/close reading: That same night. . . What other words could the author have used? “When he was finished. . .” “After the cake was done. . .” Her choice, however, carefully tells the readers much more than other word choice. It tells the reader that 1) it took Jack all day to make the cake; and 2) it was very freshly finished. It shows how much effort he took and that he finished it on-time so he’s not late and the cake is still fresh.

book_open2 Text on page begins: Early the next morning, with combed hair. . .

This text is printed in italic: Perhaps I should pick a bouquet for the princess. . . What do italics tell the reader? Jack is thinking to himself. If he said it aloud it would be written with quotation marks.

What does “four-and-twenty blackbirds” refer to? Read full poem another session. See extension resources about this poem later in the blog.

book_open2 Text on page begins: On the other side, he looked down at his gift. . .

What are the white streaks? Represents the whispering wind.

Word choice/close reading: Why is “pressed on” such a good choice of words? It means to keep walking steadily, to exert steady pressure. With the obstacles Jack is facing, it portrays his feelings of overcoming any apprehension and just keep focused on this mission.

book_open2 Text on page begins: The tiny flame cast a magical circle of light…

Word choice/Close reading: Why did Jack decide to light a candle at this point in his journey? What part from the text tells you that?

“The road grew narrower. The trees grew thicker. The light grew dimmer. Soon it was so dark that Jack couldn’t see the cake in front of his face.”

If Jack couldn’t see anything and the path became more narrow with trees as obstacles, Jack might have fallen if he couldn’t see where he was going.

book_open2 Text on page begins: Holding the cake proudly before him, Jack continued on to the castle.

Concertina: a musical instrument that resembles a small accordion and that is played by pressing the ends together

book_open2 Text on page begins: Jack looked down at his gift, and for several seconds he was unable to speak. . .

Can you spot the anachronism, i.e., objects from the wrong time period? Helium and/or latex balloons?

book_open2 Last illustration and the endpapers at the back of the book. What is happening?
Jack is either retelling his story or telling a new story. The princess is enjoying herself so much she follows him home. How do you know they are returning home? They are on the other side of the bridge that was the first obstacle Jack faced.

 

Instruction at the Conclusion of the Read-Aloud. Look for my extra-info iconextrainfo: At the end of the story, depending on time discuss other items mentioned in the book to build the students’ background knowledge:

extrainfoIlluminated Text: Discuss the decorative first letter of the story. Information from a website about illuminated text: “Medieval manuscript decoration included small painted scenes (called miniatures), intricate borders, ornate chapter letters, and even elaborate full-page paintings. Such decorations illustrated the text and helped guide people through it. The pictures were especially important because during medieval times, many people, even those who owned manuscripts, could not read.”

With this in mind, why do you think the illustrator drew the first letter of the book with a crown?

extrainfo Four-and-twenty blackbirds: Who knows the poem, Sing a Song of Sixpence? Point out the interesting tie-in to Randolph Caldecott illustration of the poem. Here is the Caldecott illustration on its own.

See versions of the poem here. The site explores extensive discussion of history along with versions and variants of the rhyme. Very interesting reading!

On another site, see page 8 for the poem in these scanned images of Mother Goose rhymes.

extrainfo Concertina: The gypsy is playing a concertina, the musical instrument that resembles a small accordion and that is played by pressing the ends together. Here is a video of a musician playing the concertina. It is a non-youtube video, just in case youtube is blocked.

extrainfoDancing a jig: The gypsy has her bear dancing a jig. A jig is defined as a rapid, lively, springy, irregular dance for one or more persons, usually in triple meter. Here is a great clip of professional Irish dancers whose style is sometimes referred to as a jig. Note: Forcing a bear to perform considered to be cruel to the animal. Although still done in the early 1900s, it is illegal in many countries to capture and train bears, and other animals, to perform.

extrainfo If Jack’s cake had survived, how do you think the princess would have responded? The princess gives Jack the honor of cutting the cake. What do you think Jack is thinking as he looks at the cake? It is so much more grand than his cake was. Perhaps it did work out for the best that his cake “disappeared.” Maybe he wouldn’t have told her the story and discovered that she loved stories!

Lessons specifically correlated to the Common Core Standards after the first read aloud of the story:

CCS RL K.6-With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story. RL K.7-With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).

CCS Display the author and illustrator information on the back flap and tell them about each person. Either have them copy the name of each on different sides of a piece of paper or small piece of cardboard or have it printed on the paper ahead of time. Then, show different open book spreads of the story and ask questions for the students to identify whether it was the author or illustrator (or both) who tells that part of the story. For example: Show the page with the gypsy. Ask, who tells us that the gypsy is wearing a scarf? Have them turn-up their papers showing the name of who they think did that. Then read the page in the story. Ask them to change the name on their paper if they changed their mind. Then discuss how the author never describes the gypsy but the illustrator decided to give her a flowered scarf on her head. Be sure to ask questions where the answer is both and discuss why.

CCSRL 1.2-Retells stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson. RL 1.3-Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details. RL 1.7-Use illustrations and details in a story to descibe its characters, setting, or events. RL 1.10-With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.

CCSShow the prewriting video of Candace Fleming describing her C.L.A.P. idea about how to a story. During the classtime, diplay the endpapers at the beginning of the book on a document camera. Have the class generate a list of the settings in the book with their own terms such as: Jack’s house, the forest, the clearing, the courtyard. Then, put students into groups of 2 or 3. Have each group begin with a different setting from the list just generated and have them make a sub-list to describe, in detailed phrases, everything they remember from that particular place. Before the end of class, stop group work and create a master list of all the answers the class thought of. Record the master list on the computer to post online when all the classes have completed the exercise. If time, match their answers to the exact text in the book or the illustrations and determine if their impression comes from one or the other or both.

CCS Copy the Readers’ Theater version of Clever Jack Takes the Cake and perform the script for another grade level. Presenting to younger children, such as Kindergarten, is especially motivating and exciting for both age groups.

CCSRL 2.3-Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges. RL 2.7-Use information geained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

CCSLearning Activity #1 There are two types of responses that Jack has to major events and challenges. First, he solves the problem and second, he responds in a positive way to the change of events.   Provide the students the list of problems that Jack faced. Have them record what actions he took to deal with the problem and what attitude he took to think positively. When finished, have them use only the only information presented in the text to think of other problems that Jack may have encountered and how he might have responded in action and attitude. Have them record their answers in groups of 2 or 3 and then discuss their responses at the end of the classtime.

CCSLearning Activity #2 Have the students discuss the following questions with their partners and then share as a group.

Jack’s mother: What tone of voice do you think the mother used when she said this to Jack when he decides to make a cake for the princess. The mother’s questions (“‘From what?’ asked his mother, ‘From the dust in the cupboard? From the dirt on the floor?’”) are not given a context for how she might have spoken them. Based on her small part in the story, how do you think she would have said them? Sadly, sarcastically, with some humor? How do you support your point of view? The mother’s questions are not given a context for how she might have spoken them. Possible response—Jack’s mother doesn’t say anything else negative to Jack. Her response to his cake was quite positive. Her words make their lack of means even more obvious and Jack’s effort exceptionally resourceful.

Jack’s Gift-Does Jack’s efforts to make the cake make the gift more special than if he purchased it from a bakery? Or, is it the thought that counts not the trouble someone went to get a gift? Explain your logic. What if the gift is met with the indifference the princess showed when receiving her birthday gifts?

The Princess: How would you describe the princess’s personality traits? What text supports your opinion? When each gift was presented, “even the most magnificent treasures did not seem to interest Her Highness.” Her comments were accompanied by a “bored yawn” and the words “how tiresome” and “how dull.” She seems a tad bit spoiled and unappreciative of the gift and thus rude to the giver. At this point the reader might now like her very much except that she responds so positively to Jack’s gift. She could have better manners, of course.

CCS RL 2.10-Read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the 2-3 text complexity band proficiently with scaffloding. . .

CCS Copy the Readers’ Theater version of Clever Jack Takes the Cake and perform the script for another grade level. Presenting to younger children is especially motivating and exciting for both age groups.

————–idea under this broken line are under-construction—————-

Word Study   Opinion/Proof-Unanswered question in story—is Jack meant to receive the invitation or was it by chance?   Story Elements: Setting on endpapers-setting changes throughout the realm.   Word choices: bloom-speckled

Requests from recent NIU Children’s Literature Conference

At the annual Northern Illinois University Children’s Literature Conference, I presented a brief overview of using picture books to teach the CCSS. During the presentation, I was asked to post information on some things I had mentioned. I’ll start with the easy ones first!

Articles from the Internet of particular interest:

Looking for Primary Sources? Try these links:

 

 

 

 

Those Rebels, John & Tom

Those_Rebels,_John_&_TomThose Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley;
Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Teacher read aloud: Grades 1-5; Publisher 2-4; Booklist 3-6; AR Interest Level K-3; Independent reading AR 6.3; Lexile 960
Text Structure: Narrative nonfiction
High-Quality Text and Illustrations: Orbis Pictus Award: Honor Book 2013; Selected for Book Links Lasting Connections 2012.
LC Summary: A dual portrait of two American founding fathers shares introductions to the many ways they helped a young United States in spite of their disparate views, tracing how they overcame interpersonal differences at key points in the nation’s early history.

 

Why should I teach with this book?
Presidents in February: Though Presidents’ Day originally honored Washington, adding Lincoln changes President’s Day to Presidents’ Day. However, without John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the term “president” might have been a moot point.

Compare and Contrast: Because the book clearly focuses on the differences of the two personalities, it is a simple, uncomplicated example of how to compare and contrast two people/topics.

Good Model of Documenting Sources: The author provides her sources for all the words or phrases she quotes in the book. Though many other nonfiction books reference their sources, not as many match the quote with the source, including page number. This feature is an excellent way to show students that facts are backed by authoritative sources.

A good place to explain the use of documented quotes is where John is pushing a wheelbarrow of dirt and Tom is on horseback overseeing the construction of Monticello. The students will need an explanation of how these quotes tell us the author is quoting someone else and that the author is citing reliable, authoritative sources.

Personality Differences Can Be a Good Thing: In many ways these two men exemplify the personalities of introverts and extroverts. A recently published book entitled, Quiet: Empowering Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, explores these personality types. Both books support the idea that differences in personalities can be an advantage when a group is working toward a common goal. In a world that tends to reward extroverts, students would benefit from understanding that one type is not inherently superior to the other.

Research and Writing Possibilities: (forthcoming)

 

What Common Core Standards can I teach with this book?
(This list does not include standards that could be taught with almost every book such as “Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.)

1st Grade
Caveat: The text level of this book is quite high due to the vocabulary and text complexity. However, the information is accessible to younger children as a read aloud. Rather than asking the children to use context to determine the meaning of words or having you, the teacher, try to explain all the unknown words, the focus for the 1st graders can be directed to the words in larger print on each page. These words, phrases, and sentences give the essential points of the text.

RI.1.3. Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
The opening page of the book summarizes the text in one sentence. However, the words “alliance” and “treason” are not known concepts for 1st graders. After asking the students what they understand about the sentence and what they don’t, this would be a page to leave unexplained until the end of the book. After reading the book, the students should be able to deduce how the author supported her statement. (see below)

RI.1.6. Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.
The first page of the story is a good example as to how an illustrator communicates ideas that the text has not yet mentioned. The students can explain, in general terms, the differences they see in the personalities of John and Tom by examining the clues from the illustrator.

RL.1.5. Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
Students at this level will need to see the difference between an informational book and a narrative nonfiction. In preparation for that discussion, it is important to show the students how the author of this nonfiction book uses quotation marks.

RI.1.9. Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

(forthcoming)

At the end of the read aloud:
RI.1.3. Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
After finishing the book, now is the time to return to the first page and have the students try to understand and explain the author’s opening statement. What does alliance mean to them now after hearing the book? Why is the alliance surprising? How did they both commit treason? What did each of the men do to “launch a new nation?” What do you think the author is explaining about people’s differences? To answer these questions, it will be important to go back through the book to find what text supports the students’ conclusions.

2nd Grade
Caveat: As with 1st graders, the 2nd graders may fine the text level difficult due both in vocabulary and text complexity. However, the information is accessible to younger children as a read aloud. Rather than asking the children to use context to determine the meaning of words or having you, the teacher, try to explain all the unknown words, the focus for the 2nd graders can be directed to the words in larger print on each page. These words, phrases, and sentences give the essential points of the text.

RI.2.3. Describe the connection between a series of historical events . . . in a text.
While looking at the personalities of the two rebels, John and Tom, the author takes note of the changes in their relationship. Analyzing what events caused the change would show the students that under different circumstances and with new information people can change their opinions. Though the story ends with the two united as friends in a cause, the author provides notes at the end that further explain the ups and downs of the friendship. Paraphrasing this information would be of benefit to the students and would reinforce the concept of how the friendship was affected by the intense debates in the country. Here is another opportunity to show how an author finds information and gives credit to the source. (See page following image of the Declaration of Independence.)

RI.2.6. Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain or describe.
The author states the purpose of her book which is, how two men who were very different worked together, put themselves in personal danger, and helped form the USA. Displaying and discussing her opening sentence would make it easier for the students to discover parts of the text address these three topics. The students should find where the compare and contrast format ends and the author begins to tell how the men came to agree about the need to take action. See the open book spread that begins, “TOM might be silent in Congrees, JOHN realized, but he wasn’t afraid to answer King George with his pen.”

The students can also pinpoint the points in the text that explains the alliance, the treason, and the start of the new nation.

RI.2.9. Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.


Forthcoming)

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski
Teacher read aloud: Grades 1-5
Independent reading: AR 5.7 | Lexile AD1020L
LC Summary: The history of the Meadowlands, from its pristine state, to its gradual transformation by European settlers, to the pollution caused by industrialization, and the changes brought by environmental organizations striving to protect it.
Text Structure: Expository; Chronological Sequence.
Text Features: Author’s notes; Bibliography; Websites.
Clustered Text Recommendations: River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River, by Hudson Talbott. The river undergoes a paralleled change from human hands.
Other resources: Blog: Classroom Bookshelf
Author’s Website

Why should I teach with this book?
Current Topic with Real-World Application: The Meadowlands in New Jersey is a small part of the area that was hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Research and Writing Possibilities: The book provides a starting point for further student research and writing into the issue of rebuilding on lands below sea level. In addition, each 2 page spread is bordered by small colored drawings of objects and animals that have a relationship to the main illustration and text. However, the author does not explain each item and would spark interest in students trying to answer the questions: What’s that? and Why is paired with these pages?

High-Quality text and illustrations: Horn Book’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2011; Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2012; The New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2011, Picture Books

Text Structure: Expository; Chronological Sequence; The book contains few “signal” words commonly taught for a specific text structure, and thus requires a closer reading to determine the text structure or what signal words are implied.

What Common Core Standards can I teach with this book?
(This list does not include standards that could be taught with almost every book such as “Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.”)

1st Grade
RI.1.3. Describe the connection between…events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.
The author chronicles the effects of every new event, both those of the people who live in the area and the changes in the ecosystem. Because this is a survival story, the story has a somewhat positive ending of how some of this area was rescued from total destruction by humans. The text explains lots of new and interesting facts. For instance, the muck in a wetlands can help to filter out pollution and bury it under layers of new muck. Who knew?
RI.1.6. Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.
Again, each 2-page spread is bordered by small, colored drawings of objects and animals that have a relationship to the main illustration and text. However, it is up to the reader to find the association of the border to the text.

2nd Grade
RI.2.3. Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts…
Within the events described in the book, there are two basic themes—the destruction of the wetlands and its revival. Students can find the connections between the events by matching the causes with their effects on the wetlands.
RI.2.6. Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
The author presents the facts, as an expository piece, but the purpose of the book goes beyond just what happened. The implied purpose is for us to examine our actions, attitudes, and impact on our environment.
RI.2.9. Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
While the book explains the history of the area and covers some of the characteristics of a wetlands environment, there is much more for the students to learn about wetlands in general. There are several books of varying text levels that can be paired up with this book to show obvious differences between the features of nonfiction books. The other texts, listed below in Clustered Texts, are markedly different in that they contain the standard features of a nonfiction book such as headings, indexes, captions, etc. which this book, Meadowlands, does not.

3rd Grade
RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts…using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect. Students can examine the chronological sequence of events by estimating how much time had passed between each major event. They can also find the cause and effect structure over time. For instance, the first chunk of time is stated that the “The wetlands supported the Lenni Lenape for thousands of years.” And, the Dutch ships arrived in 1609. The effect on the environment or people is not defined as harmful. In the next chunk of time, through the 1800s, the effects of the human activity starts causing greater changes. Water is drained, marshes are filled in, and the Lenape die from diseases brought from Europe and they are forced off the land.
RI.3.9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.
As in the 2nd CCSS, additional titles on the wetlands become a tool for easily comparing and contrasting both the details of the wetlands and the obvious difference between the structure of two nonfiction texts. See RI.2.9 above and Clustered Texts below.
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A Boy Called Dickens

Here is a enjoyable, quality book that you can read to your class during these last days before winter break. Why did I pick this book?
1) The book is seasonal in that Dickens’ tale The Christmas Story is widely used in the media at this time of year;
2) Most children are at least a little familiar with The Christmas Story;
3) The book will build students’ background knowledge of the author Charles Dickens as well as some aspects of English society in the 1800s;
4) Reading the book can provide vivid, memorable examples of many of the Common Core State Standards you are teaching, which is the point of this blog!

If using this book to teach particular standards, it is wise to remember that asking questions during the read aloud is beneficial only if it does not interfere with the pace that holds the students’ interest in the story. Except for the questions that are necessary for the students to understand the story, the questions and discussions can be done after the reading of the book.

If you use this book with students, or use this site, please email me and tell me about it and what parts of the blog were helpful. Email me at: libraries_rule at picturebooksforthecommoncore dot com (substitute at with @ and dot with . No spaces.)

A Boy Called Dickens~written by Deborah Hopkinson
~ illustrated by John Hendrix (ISBN:978-0-375-86732-3)
Standards to teach during read aloud lesson, though not limited to:
RL1.1|RL1.3|RL1.7|RL2.1|RL2.5|RL2.7|RL3.1|RL3.7|RL4.1|RL4.3|L4.5a|RL4.6|WR4.9a|RL5.1|RL5.3|RL5.4|RL5.6|L5.5a| RL6.1|RL3.1|RL6.5|RL6.3

Discussion Points During and/or After Read Aloud Lesson:
Wrap Around Cover and Title Page: Discuss what information the illustrator is giving the reader for the setting, characters, and genre. The focus is on what is observable, not what can be predicted.

1st double spread with this opening text, “This is old London, on a winter…”
•Setting and mood from illustration and text: winter; city of London; cold, gray; thick, black Thames, ragged children. Black smoke came from burning coal and can still be seen on the buildings today. The ragged children add to the dismal scene.
•Writing device to shift focus: “We are here to search for a boy called Dickens. Maybe the boy is down by the river…”
•Similie and metaphor: “silent as a ghost” and “to fold the city in cold, gray arms.”

2nd double spread with this opening text, “Or maybe he’s dashing…”
•Writing device to shift focus: “Or maybe he’s dashing into that schoolroom…”
•Genre: historical fiction: True facts are accumulating about Dickens–where he lived, hardships, appearance.
•Verbs–shades of meaning:dashing, huddled, longs, lugged.
•Vocabulary: pawnshop

3rd double spread with this opening text: “Suddenly Dickens is gone.”
•Checking for Understanding: Why does the author ask us if we are brave enough to follow the boy?
•Prediction: Why might the boy be going here to Warren’s?

Third person narration: Discuss the author’s third-person narrative technique that includes speaking directly to the readers to move the story along from place to place. Discuss the difference between the technique and writing in the third-person.

4th double spread beginning with, “Dickens ties on a ragged apron…”
•Key Details: How does this work compare with other 12 year olds you know?

5th double spread beginning with: “And so Dickens begins:…”
•Key Details: Is the story Dickens tells Fagen true? What does it remind you of? Hungerford Stairs, put to work, can’t bear it anymore. Writers write about what they know and this is what Dickens knows all to well.
•Vocabulary: foreman
•Illustrations extending story:Examine the illustration of the foreman. How does this communicate his personality? Moths flying around him add to his disagreeable personality-does he smell like moth balls?
•Verbs–shades of meaning: “the door flies open” compared with ” the door opens?”

6th double spread beginning with: “We must wait a long time…
Key Details: Why is ten hours a “long workday?”

7th double spread through 9th double spread beginning with “Dickens shoves his hands…” until last sentence, “That mystery must wait for morning.”
•Vocabulary: vendors, miserly, convicts, old curiousity shops.
•Craft and Structure: What do you think Dickens dreams about for the future? How could these people and ghosts be a part of his dream for the future? What happens when the author makes the reader wait? It builds anticipation and excitement.

10th double spread beginning with: When Dickens wakes, it is Sunday.”
•Vocabulary: debtor and debtors’ prison; 40-pound debt
•Explain: The irony of the situation is that while he is imprisoned, he cannot make any money to pay off his debt. How then could they ever leave debtors’ prison?

11th double spread beginning with: “Winter gives way to the pale light of spring.”
•Key details: How exactly did they get out of debtors’ prison?
•Punctuation: Notice the use of the semicolon. See
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Teaching the CCSS with Picture Books

Interested in this blog or wanting to join in on this project? If so, send me an email at libraries_rule at picturebooksforthecommoncore dot com (substitute at with @ and dot with . No spaces.)

Are you using the Common Core State Standards in your teaching?
If so, I plan to use this blog to lead you to a variety of high quality picture books that teachers of grades 1-6 could use to teach, review, or demonstrate different standards. The picture books may be on your library shelf or digital and will chosen from fiction and non-fiction genres.

To make this useful for you, tell me what you are teaching and I will help you find a book that will address that standard. The books will only be ones that I regard, and other reviewers regard, as well-written and adeptly illustrated.

So. . .

What CCS is coming up soon in your curriculum, or is one that you continually review, for which you feel you could use additional materials? (It can be more than just one standard, of course.)

I will match that standard with a picture book or two and you can decide if you would like to try them out.

Your feedback to this site will ensure that the books are ones that can be used in efficiently and effectively in teaching and learning. And, the added benefit, is that the pairing of text to pictures increases student learning and sparks their desire to read and learn.