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Everything You Need For Back-to-School: Books & More

September 3, 2013

Whether you’ve been back to school for weeks or today is your first day, whether you’re a student, an educator or a parent, whether you’re in elementary school or high school, today’s RAoR post is a must-read!  Below you’ll find a slew of wonderful book recommendations for various subjects and grade levels, along with links to helpful resources like educator guides, book discussion guides, apps and websites. 

The Civil Rights Movement:

I Have a Dream Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

August 28th marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s legendary I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  His words paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent illustrations make this a stunning celebration of that famous moment in history.  Play the CD of MLK’s speech (included) before reading it aloud together with a child.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, illustrated by Raul Colon

In this moving picture book just out in paperback, author Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. 

The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

September 15th marks the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteen Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the horrific event that inspired this award winning novel, one that appears on school reading lists throughout the country.  The movie premieres on the Hallmark Channel on September 20th. 


Learning to read with Rocket:

Rocket’s Mighty Words by Tad Hills

This is the latest Rocket book from bestselling author illustrator Tad Hills and it’s perfect for introducing early reading concepts to the littlest readers.  Preschoolers watch the little yellow bird teach Rocket simple words, like n-e-s-t and m-u-d.  And beginning readers will love practicing their new literacy skills alongside another brand-new reader-Rocket! It is an oversized board book so it’s perfect for sharing during storytime or lap time.

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

In the original picture book starring Rocket, kids can follow along as the little yellow birdie helps Rocket sound out words, then string them together to make sentences and before they know it they’ll be reading along with him.

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

Once kids have discovered the joys of reading, Rocket is ready to introduce them to the exciting craft of storytelling in yet another adorable picture book that is perfect for the classroom or as a family read aloud.


Novels for kids ages 8-12:

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein creates a fun and exciting tale, set in a library with a cast of quirky characters and a mystery that readers will be racing to uncover.  With a quick pace with short chapters, this makes a great family or classroom read aloud and the author has created a whole online component that kids can do in their own libraries (see link below). 

Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall

Now out in paperback, this is an impeccably researched work of historical fiction, written by a former teacher and museum historian, with outstanding characters and great curriculum hooks (WWII, African American History).


Paired text for the Common Core State Standards:

The Common Core State Standards roll out in 2014 in most states, and one of the focuses will be on pairing or grouping works of fiction with informational texts. 

Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today paired with National Geographic Readers: Weather

Get kids reading with these two great series:

The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library is a kid friendly series that covers a range of interesting topics and is both entertaining and educational.

National Geographic Readers are cool, exciting and easy to read and they also cover a wide range of topics and reading levels.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen paired with National Geographic Kids Everything Big Cats

Carl Hiaasen’s books for young readers (ages 10 and up) are hilarious, entertaining and thought-provoking.  In Scat, kids can read about the panthers that inhabit the Florida Everglades, and then they can become experts on all things big cats by reading load of interesting facts in National Geographic Kids Everything Big Cats.

Magic Tree House #50 Hurry Up, Houdini! paired with Magic Tricks from the Treehouse

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne is beloved by teachers and kids alike. Now with 50 fiction books in the series, and nonfiction companions to go with most, this is the ultimate paired text!


Read it before you see it:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

James Dashner’s bestselling dystopian thriller series has won the hearts of countless teens and adults alike and next year, readers can see it on the big screen when it hits theaters February 2014.  But first they must read and discuss the books!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

With obvious curriculum ties (WWII and Holocaust), high schoolers should read this one before they see it in theaters on November 15, 2013.


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