Update from ILA on COVID-19: We are committed to keeping you informed of all the latest developments, including the impact on the ILA 2020 Conference in Columbus, OH, and how ILA is helping educators during this period. Let us know what support you need and stay engaged using these free resources.

Literacy Now

Putting Books to Work
Making a Case for Reading Joy
ILA 2019 Replay
Making a Case for Reading Joy
ILA 2019 Replay
  • SKY COLOR describes the thought process of a child named Marisol when she is faced with a dilemma of painting the sky in a school mural. Marisol, as well as the people around her, considers herself to be a true artist. In the fashion of an artist, she wants everything to be just perfect in her works of art. She also encourages others to explore their artistic side as well.
    • Blog Posts
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Peter H. Reynolds' SKY COLOR

    by Kathy Prater
     | Sep 18, 2012
    SKY COLOR (Candlewick, 2012)
    Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
    Pre-K through Grade 3


    SKY COLOR describes the thought process of a child named Marisol when she is faced with a dilemma of painting the sky in a school mural. Marisol, as well as the people around her, considers herself to be a true artist. In the fashion of an artist, she wants everything to be just perfect in her works of art. She also encourages others to explore their artistic side as well.

    Marisol is excited when her class is allowed to paint the mural in the school’s library. Everything is going well as the students work together to brainstorm, design, and draw out the concept of the mural. The trouble begins when Marisol cannot find the color of the sky that she feels is most accurate—blue. Over the next pages, Marisol’s thought process is modeled through her riding the bus home, thinking on the porch, dreaming, and waking up to a rainy day. She finds the true sky color and is able to finish her portion of the mural with great success.

    This book will be great to introduce critical thinking and thinking outside the proverbial box. Students should be encouraged to think about the world beyond their comfort zone and consider other possibilities.

    Cross-curricular connections: Science, Art, Math

    Ideas for Classroom Use:

    Color Mixing

    The purpose of this activity is to review or teach the primary and secondary colors. Marisol was set on using blue for her sky color and could not figure out a way to get blue. Before reading the story, have students try mixing various colors of finger paint or tempera paint to see if they can create new colors. Encourage creative thinking of ways to mix colors and chart what blends result in different colors. Is there more than one blend of colors to make a certain color? Have students determine which colors could never be created by mixing other colors. Then show and discuss the colors wheel in reference to primary and secondary colors.

    Read SKY COLOR to the students after the color mixing and discuss the colors Marisol mixed and created and see if any of her colors matched the student’s creations. Then, encourage them to use their newly created colors to create a picture. Have them dictate/write the description of their picture and why they chose the color to paint with. Encourage creative thinking and use of colors.

    Tree Changes

    The purpose of this activity is to foster creativity in looking at the world around the school/home and thinking beyond the present. As a group, read the story SKY COLOR. Ask students to focus on the things that are different than expected in the story. Discuss what was different than their expectations through the book. For instance, when I read this story to my classroom, they were fully expecting Marisol to have discovered a way to make the color blue for the sky. When I turned to the final page, they were all amazed.

    Children should be able to pick up on this difference without much direction. Discuss the fact that items can appear different at different times of the day, such as the sky, and at different times of the year.

    Have students brainstorm, as a group for young children or in small groups for older grades, a list of things that change their appearance. Encourage children to accept all answers even if they don’t agree with them. Discuss the lists and allow children to justify their thoughts. Fall, in most areas, is a perfect time to observe these changes quite easily in the color changes of a tree.

    As a follow up project, have students create a drawing, story, or painting or a tree without using the traditional colors of brown and green. Have students dictate/write their reasoning for the colors they chose for their tree. Students can showcase their creations in an art gallery like Marisol did and collect feedback from other students.

    Sky Graph

    The purpose of this activity is to introduce/study changes in the sky, and introduce the concept of graphing to young students and review graphing with older students. Read SKY COLOR to the students and discuss the changes in the sky Marisol was looking at. These observations can be done over a series of days or weeks. Have students keep a log, journal, or chart of the sky color over an assigned amount of time. For younger students, this may be best done once each day during school time, and once each evening with parents over the course of a week. Have students record the color of the sky at each of those intervals.

    As a group, in pairs, or individually, depending on the age of the students, transfer the observation information into graphs. Each student’s graph may be a bit different depending on the times they observed the sky. Determine with students if there is a color that is more prevalent than the others. What is sky color?

    Create a definition as a class of what sky color is based on the observations and graphs made. Write a poem or short story with illustration of “sky color.” Each child should be encouraged to express their own thoughts as the sky looks different through each set of eyes. Dictate/Write the stories and display along with illustrations in an art gallery (bulletin board) display for other classes to see as well.

    Additional Resources and Activities:

    A Classroom Guide for Sky Color
    This PDF guide contains activities suggested by Peter Reynolds for use with his book, SKY COLOR. The file has ideas for classroom use, as well as a little background information on how the book was created. The author has also included a couple printables for use with his activities.

    Why Leaves Change Color
    This website provides background information about why leaves change colors in the fall. The US Department of Agriculture details how weather affects trees, what creates the colors, the best places to see fall colors, and how the leaves help to enrich the soil after they fall. This is easy to read background information to accompany the “Tree Changes” project.

    Catch a Rainbow
    This website provides an easy to complete science project showing the process of color mixing. The materials for the project are easily accessible and inexpensive. The page gives the directions, ingredients list, a printable sheet for marking observations, and a link to an easy to read and follow color wheel. The color wheel is printable as well to serve as a guide for the color mixing project.

    Kathy Prater is a Reading Specialist who works with students with dyslexia, an Adjunct Professor at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and a full time pre-kindergarten teacher at Starkville Academy in Starkville, Mississippi. Her passions include reading, writing, tending her flock of 15 chickens, and helping students at all levels to find motivation for lifelong reading and learning. She believes that every child can become a successful reader if given the right tools and encouragement.

    WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE? Send your name, the grade level(s) you teach, the title of book that you put to work, and a line or two about how you use it in your classroom to engage-membership@/.


    © 2012 Kathy Prater. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
    Read More
  • AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN, by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle, is a work of historical fiction in a graphic novel format. The story centers on Earhart’s time in Trepassey, Newfoundland , as she prepares for her attempt to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1928.
    • Blog Posts
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Taylor and Towle's AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN

    by Aimee Rogers
     | Aug 21, 2012
    AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN (Hyperion Books, 2010)
    Written by Sarah Stewart Taylor and illustrated by Ben Towle
    Grades 5-9


    AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN, by Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle, is a work of historical fiction in a graphic novel format. The story centers on Earhart’s time in Trepassey, Newfoundland , as she prepares for her attempt to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1928.

    The narrator is Grace, a young girl from the island of Trepassey with a nose for news. Grace writes THE TREPASSEY HERALD and is familiar with much of the opposition faced by Earhart as Grace, too, is trying to make it in a field that is dominated by men and not seen as a place for women. Earhart’s time in Trepassey is one of the highlights of Grace’s young life, especially when she has the opportunity to talk to Earhart directly.

    The story continues into Grace’s future and shows her living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, still pursuing her dream to be a serious journalist. Grace has kept up with Earhart’s exploits and is devastated to learn of her disappearance. The parallel stories of Grace and Earhart serve to highlight the struggles faced by women as they attempt to break into male-dominated careers.

    The images of this graphic novel are rendered in black, white, and turquoise. While this color combination may seem odd, the black and white provides detail, while the turquoise captures the feeling of both the sky and the ocean. Towle masterfully uses a variety of panel shapes and sizes to illustrate how time is passing in the story, as well as to emphasize the emotions in important moments.

    The introduction by Eileen Collins provides another highlight of this historical fiction graphic novel. Collins was the first female pilot of a space shuttle and considers Earhart to be one of her inspirations and heroes. Without Earhart’s actions, Collins would not have had the opportunity to pilot a space shuttle.

    Cross-curricular Connections: history/social studies, visual literacy, math, science, language arts/English

    Ideas for Classroom Use:

    How Much is too Much? (Grades 8-9)

    In addition to the weather, the weight of Earhart’s airplane was cited as one of the reasons that the crew was having difficulty getting it into the air. Many calculations were done on the weight of the gas and the distance that had to be traveled. Students could complete these same calculations by determining the weight of a gallon of gas, the distance traveled, how many miles per gallon and how much fuel the plane could safely carry.

    Students could also complete an experiment on the weight of gallons of different liquids, such as water, milk, soda, etc. Older, or more advanced students, could also include an exploration of the physics of flight and the impact that weight has on lift.

    Panel Discussions (Grades 5-9)

    The authors provide “panel discussions” in the back of the book that either expand upon information found in a panel, provide background to events in the panel, or give additional bibliographic information. Students can research and write their own panel discussions or add to the authors’ panel discussions.

    A variation on this activity could be the creation of additional panels for the graphic novel with the research to support the panel.

    A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (Grades 7-9)

    The purpose of this activity is to develop and hone students’ visual literacy skills. Many theorists in the field of comics and graphic novels, including Scott McCloud (UNDERSTANDING COMICS), discuss the importance of “reading” and understanding visual images.

    Towle is a master of using the elements of the graphic novel to capture a feeling. The image on page 51 is one such example. The lower left corner of the page features Grace’s back with her arms raised to the sky. The rest of the page is white except for a small black rendition of the profile of an airplane in the upper right hand corner. The open space and the subdued colors allow readers a window into Grace’s longing for both freedom and equality.

    Ask students to analyze this image (or others) for the feelings and meanings that it conveys. Encourage students to find additional examples of pages where the images carry the weight of the meaning.

    Pioneering Women Journalists (Grades 5-9)

    Grace, the narrator of AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN, wants to be a journalist, but in the 1930s this was not considered “women’s work.” However, just like Earhart, there were pioneering women in the field of journalism. Have students complete research on these early women journalists. Students could present their findings in a wide variety of fashions; in keeping with the journalism theme, students could write a newspaper story about a pioneering woman journalist or conduct a mock television interview.

    Classroom News/Herald (Grades 5-7)

    Grace authored her small town’s newspaper, THE TRESPASSEY HERALD, and tried to report on all the important local events. Using this as inspiration, have students write a classroom newsletter. Ask them to consider some of the following questions:

    • What format will the newsletter take (digital or print)?
    • How often will the newsletter be published?
    • What will you call the newsletter?
    • What are considered important events worth covering?
    In addition to this being a fun and educational experience for students, it may also provide an interesting way to keep parents informed of class happenings.

    Additional Resources and Activities:

    Random House Teacher’s Guide to AMELIA LOST: THE LIFE AND DISAPPEARANCE OF AMELIA EARHART by Candace Fleming

    Fleming’s 2012 Orbis Pictus Honor Book is targeted towards middle grade readers, and as such, presents the story of Amelia Earhart’s life and disappearance in interesting and understandable ways. The link is to a PDF version of the educator’s guide to the text.

    George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers (Purdue University Libraries)

    In 1934, Earhart was invited to lecture at Purdue University by Purdue’s then-president Edward C. Elliott. In fact, Earhart was on a leave of absence from Purdue when she disappeared in 1937, during her attempt to fly across the world along the equator. This archival collection of pictures, documents, correspondence and more is maintained by the Purdue University Libraries. More than 3,500 materials from this collection are available online, including some of the maps used by Earhart and her marriage license. The site also includes an extensive biography of Earhart and links to additional resources.

    American Experience: Amelia Earhart

    PBS’s American Experience series is well-known for its depth of coverage on the events and people that have contributed to the American experience. This is a link to the almost hour-long exploration of Amelia Earhart’s life, achievements, and historical impact. This video could serve as great way to build background knowledge or to serve as a supplement after reading AMELIA EARHART: THIS BROAD OCEAN.

    The Official Website of Amelia Earhart

    While the “official” nature of this website is difficult to determine, it does provide a great deal of information and links to additional web sources. Visitors to this website can read an extensive biography of Earhart and view several images of Earhart. One of the most interesting resources on this site is its collection of recent news stories related to Earhart.

    Aimee Rogers is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota studying children’s and adolescent literature. Prior to her return to school, Aimee taught high school students with special needs, in a wide variety of settings, for ten years. She misses working with adolescents but is developing a passion for working with undergraduate pre-service teachers. She has a growing interest in graphic novels for children and young adults and is hoping to make them the topic of her dissertation.

    WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE? Send your name, the grade level(s) you teach, the title of book that you put to work, and a line or two about how you use it in your classroom to engage-membership@/.

    © 2012 Aimee Rogers. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


    Putting Books to Work: Joseph Lambert’s ANNIE SULLIVAN AND THE TRIALS OF HELEN KELLER

    Putting Books to Work: Jacobson and Colon's ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY
    Read More
  • Imagine, if you will, a world in which you have lost everything and the only chance you have to save your family lies in believing you have magical powers. That is what Sadie and Carter Kane discover as their father disappears after blowing up the Rosetta Stone on their annual holiday outing. They become embroiled in a game of search and rescue to save their father—and the world—from destruction by their mortal enemy, the Egyptian god Set.
    • Blog Posts
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Rick Riordan's THE RED PYRAMID

    by Susan Kaye Jennings
     | Jul 17, 2012
    THE RED PYRAMID by Rick Riordan (Hyperion, 2010)
    Grades 5-12


    Imagine, if you will, a world in which you have lost everything and the only chance you have to save your family lies in believing you have magical powers. That is what Sadie and Carter Kane discover as their father disappears after blowing up the Rosetta Stone on their annual holiday outing. They become embroiled in a game of search and rescue to save their father—and the world—from destruction by their mortal enemy, the Egyptian god Set.

    If you want to introduce your students to the world of fantasy, THE RED PYRAMID is a great book to begin with. Written in the form of an audio transcript by the two children, Riordan takes us on a journey through Egyptian mythology and history as part of the Kane children’s dangerous mission. The trials and tribulations that Sadie and Carter encounter as they continue their quest provide multiple opportunities for educators to teach their students about the genre of fantasy, while tying the storyline across the curriculum.

    In addition, on their journey Sadie and Carter learn the values of trust, faithfulness, and accomplishment—as well as get to know each other after a period of separation. This is important to teach in the classroom as we build a community of learners who will learn these values as they work together throughout the year.

    Cross-curricular Connections: reading, math, history, geography, writing, technology, art

    Ideas for Classroom Use:

    Family Timeline (Grades 5-12)

    The characters in THE RED PYRAMID are tied together in one way or another, whether it’s as family members, Gods and Goddesses, or magicians. Rick Riordan weaves the lives of these characters throughout the book in order for Carter and Sadie to understand themselves as well as the life of Set and how to destroy him.

    In this activity, students will identify significant events that have occurred within their family and create a timeline of these events. These events can take the place over a one, five, ten, or twenty year span (it is up to the teacher’s discretion and the purpose of the lesson). Explain to the students that they will need to have a certain number of events for that particular time period.

    In order for the students to gain this information they will need to talk with family members. Remind them to gather information, photos, documents, and “artifacts” so that they can use them in their timeline and presentation.

    Using the Timeline Tool from ReadWriteThink (or something comparable), students will create their personal timelines. Once finished, students will prepare a presentation to show their timeline to the class. For this, they will need to be able to access their timeline on a computer that projects onto a screen. A lower-tech version is to have them create this timeline on good old-fashioned poster board.

    Marking the Miles (Grades 5-8)

    In THE RED PYRAMID, Carter and Sadie are led through several countries and states in order to learn how to defeat Set. Each time they travel through an obelisk, it lands them in a new place. This opens up an excellent opportunity to strengthen geography and math skills as they travel with the Kane children throughout the book.

    When conducting pre-reading activities with the class, introduce them to a map of the world. Explain to them that as they read, they’ll be tracking the location of Carter and Sadie. You can also include the locations of other characters for further reference. Begin by marking the locations of Carter and Sadie at the beginning of the story. You can do this with little pennants with the characters names on them, or some large tacks purchased at the dollar store.

    As the class continues reading, tie lengths of red yarn between the pennants or tacks to represent the distance traveled between the locations. Each inch of yarn should equal a set amount, such as ten kilometers. This will allow you to create math problems for students to solve. For instance, if Carter was at Heathrow Airport, and Sadie was at her grandparents’ house, what is the distance between the two locations? Asking them to represent the distance with yarn asks them to utilize measuring skills as well.

    As an extension to this activity, place students in groups of three to five and have them create math problems of their own. Groups can then exchange and solve each other’s problems.

    The Quest for Meaning: Egyptian Vocabulary (Grades 5-12)

    Rick Riordan uses a wide variety of vocabulary in THE RED PYRAMID to bring readers into the world of magicians and Ancient Egyptian culture. His use of these words make the text on the page “pop” out at the reader and pulls them into the intrigue and mystery that surround the Kane children. The purpose of these activities is for students to learn the terminology that was associated with Ancient Egyptian times.

    Terms could include:
    • obelisk
    • hieroglyphics
    • sarcophagus
    • nome
    • Shabti
    • Pharaoh
    • sphinx
    • portal
    • papyrus
    • pyramid
    To prepare for this activity, you’ll need to prepare numbered cards that have incomplete words on them (such as __ i __ r __ g __ __ p __ __ c __ for hieroglyphics). Next, you’ll need to create a laminated “cue” sheet to go along with the cards. The cue sheet will contain three-five meaning cues for the word on the card (matching numbers). Example cues for the word hieroglyphics could be: writing system, pictures, and many symbols.

    A typical set of cards would consist of 15-20 words and cues. For easy storage, you can place a set of cards and the meaning cue sheet in a zip-top bag. You’ll need several sets so that multiple pairs of students can do the activity at one time.

    Finally, you’ll need to create yes/no cards (4x6” is a good size). These will be used during the activity.

    To complete the activity, students should be placed in teams of two, and each team given a bag. One student will be the player, while their partner will be the “host.” The host will show the player a card and provide them with a meaning cue. Keep going until the player can guess the word from the meaning cues. Then place the card in the “yes” pile.

    If the player cannot guess what the word is after being given three clues, their partner will provide the word to them and place that word card in the “no” pile.

    If they happen to guess words before any cues are given then they will need to provide the meaning of the word to their partner. If they provide the correct meaning, the card will be placed in the “yes” pile.

    You may want to have each team member alternate between host and player after each word. They would then keep switching cards until all of them have been used.

    Another adaptation to this activity would be for the teacher to only give the meaning cues (and not the word cards) to the students. Or, the teacher could expand on the vocabulary by adding words the students should already be familiar with for review purposes.

    Additional Resources and Activities:

    The Online World of Rick Riordan
    This is the official website of Rick Riordan, where you can find information about all of Riordan’s books, including biographical information. Of particular note is the RED PYRAMID Egyptian Event Kit (found under “Resources for Students & Teachers” on the book page). It offers discussion questions, a “family tree” of (and guide to) Egyptian gods, and a multitude of additional ideas that make it easy to include the book in your classroom curriculum.

    Ancient Egypt: Stories and Myths (Grades 3-5)
    This website, from National Geographic Xpeditions, has lesson plans that provide a wealth of information and are written in a way that enables teachers to incorporate them into their instruction immediately. Though the site skews slightly younger than the book’s audience, the content is easily adapted to fit the needs of older students as well.

    Family Ties for Teachers and Parents
    This website provides ideas, videos, and interactives that will aid teachers in planning units that ask students to build family trees, learn the art of letter writing, and explore history through the stories of their families.

    Where Are We? Learning to Read Maps (Grades 3-5)
    Designed to teach students geography skills by learning how to read maps and legends, students can then apply these skills to locating places within their communities. Again, although the lesson is written for students in grades 3 to 5, it can easily be adapted to fit grades 5 and up.

    Using Story Innovation to Teach Fluency, Vocabulary, and Structure (Grades 3-6)
    This lesson plan provides students an opportunity to change a text to personalize it with characters, setting, and story elements. The new version of the story is then read aloud to increase students’ fluency while allowing them to compare and contrast their version with that of the original version.

    Susan Kaye Jennings is a graduate assistant at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Previously, she taught self-contained life skills to students in (K-5) for nine and a half years. at the same elementary school she went to as a child. Her passions include teaching reading to children with special needs, working with teachers to determine effective instructional methods/strategies, using reading assessment to drive instruction in the classroom, and using children's literature in the classroom.

    © 2012 Susan Kaye Jennings. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


    Rick Riordan to be Opening General Session Speaker at IRA Convention 2013

    Putting Books to Work: George O’Connor’s HADES: LORD OF THE DEAD
    Read More
  • ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY is the familiar story of Anne Frank in a new and compelling format. Jacobson and Colon tell the complete story of Anne Frank from her birth on June 12, 1929 to her death in March 1945 at Bergen-Belsen. Anne’s own immortal words, from her diary, are used to describe her life in hiding in the “Secret Annex.”
    • Blog Posts
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Jacobson and Colon's ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY

    by Aimee Rogers
     | Jun 12, 2012
    ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY (Hill and Wang, 2010)
    Written by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
    Seventh Grade and Up


    ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY is the familiar story of Anne Frank in a new and compelling format. Jacobson and Colon tell the complete story of Anne Frank from her birth on June 12, 1929 to her death in March 1945 at Bergen-Belsen. Anne’s own immortal words, from her diary, are used to describe her life in hiding in the “Secret Annex.”

    Her words are paired with illustrations that provide readers with a visual representation of the eight hiders and the events in their lives. Anne’s zest for life is captured in her broad, and often mischievous, smile; her moments of struggle during hiding as she grows and develops into a young woman who yearns for freedom are also reflected in her expertly rendered facial expressions.

    Jacobson and Colon’s dedication to accuracy is documented in their acknowledgements to those that aided in their research, particularly the Anne Frank House, the chronology provided at the end of the book, and in reproductions of the actual photographs used as the basis for the graphic representations. Anne’s life—and death—are situated within history through “snapshots,” which are descriptions, both verbal and visual, of the historical events that occurred before and during Anne’s life that ultimately lead to her death and the deaths of millions of others.

    The power of this graphic novel is in its wide appeal and its ability to capture the essence of Anne Frank. Those who are intimately acquainted with the story of Anne Frank and her diary will no doubt discover additional depths to Anne’s story through this work. Readers who are less familiar with Anne Frank will gain insights into the heart of a young woman and an understanding of the events leading up to and during a dark time in the world’s history.

    Cross-curricular Connections: history/social studies, visual literacy, math, writing, art

    Ideas for Classroom Use:

    Living and Hiding in 700 Square Feet (Grades 6-8)

    The dimensions of the “Secret Annex” at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam are provided on page 73. For example, Anne and Margot’s room was 16.57 feet by 6.86 feet. The entire annex was less than 700 feet and housed eight people for more than two years.

    In order to provide students with a sense of the size of the annex and an opportunity to practice skills in both measurement and mathematics, have groups of students measure out and mark the dimensions of each room in the annex. If a large space is available, this can be done in a way to accurately reproduce the space by placing the rooms exactly as they were in the annex. A cutaway of the annex building is provided on page 51.

    An extension of this activity could involve a comparison between the students’ living spaces and those of the secret annex. This could be extended even further by calculating the percentages of the differences in sizes between the students’ living spaces and that of the eight hiders. For example, a student might discover that her bedroom is 33% larger than the room shared by Anne and Margot and later Anne and Mr. Pfeffer.

    Historical Snapshots (Grades 6-12)

    Throughout this graphic biography of Anne Frank’s life, Jacobson and Colon provide “Snapshots” of historical events that lead to WWII and that occurred during Anne’s lifetime. Students can research and create their own historical “snapshots” of additional events during this time period. The events could be related directly to Anne’s life or more broadly to WWII.

    As Jacobson and Colon provide both written and visual information in their “snapshots,” students could also be required to provide visual information in the form of illustrated panels or some other visual means as well.

    Conveying Moods and Emotions through Illustrations (Grades 6-12)

    The purpose of this activity is to develop and hone students’ visual literacy skills. Many theorists in the field of comics and graphic novels, including Scott McCloud (UNDERSTANDING COMICS), discuss the importance of “reading” and understanding visual images. Jacobson and Colon convey numerous moods and emotions in their illustrations through a variety of techniques including color, line, and shape.

    Ask students to identify two sections in the graphic biography that show different emotions. Guide students through an examination of how the emotions are conveyed in the two sections. Pose such questions as:
    • Are particular colors used to illustrate this emotion?
    • How do the selected colors make you feel?
    • Do the lines vary based on the portrayed emotion (for example, big, bold, long, short, thin)?
    • Are particular shapes used to convey the different emotions?
    This activity could be extended by having students use some of the methods they uncovered in their examination to illustrate an emotion or mood.

    Additional Resources and Activities:

    Macmillan Teacher’s Guide to ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY Macmillan, the publisher of ANNE FRANK: THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE AUTHORIZED GRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY, has created a teacher’s guide for use with this text. The guide includes additional information about Anne Frank, the authors, and the text itself. In addition, the guide provides questions that can be used to facilitate discussions about the text and the events of WWII. Classroom activities are also suggested.

    The Secret Annex Online One of the highlights of this website is the ability to take a 3D tour of the secret annex. Visitors can explore the various rooms of the annex from all angles while a narrator provides information about each room and occupant. Each room also provides opportunities to follow further links to information about additional events both inside and outside of the annex.

    Anne Frank Received her Famous Diary in 1942 This ReadWriteThink calendar event marks Anne’s birthday, June 12, 1942, as the date she received her diary, which she named “Kitty.” The site includes links to activities and additional resources regarding Anne Frank, the Holocaust, and sources for eyewitness accounts.

    We Remember Anne Frank This online project, created by Scholastic, provides students and teachers with an opportunity to learn about Anne Frank through the eyes of two people that knew her, Miep Gies and Hanneli Pick-Goslar. Miep Gies was one of Otto Frank’s employees who helped to hide those in the secret annex. Hanneli Pick-Goslar was a childhood friend of Anne and later encountered Anne at a work camp. “We Remember Anne Frank” provides links to photo-stories, time lines and interviews. In addition, this online project provides lesson outlines and suggestions.

    Aimee Rogers is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota studying children’s and adolescent literature. Prior to her return to school, Aimee taught high school students with special needs, in a wide variety of settings, for ten years. She misses working with adolescences but is developing a passion for working with undergraduate pre-service teachers. She has a growing interest in graphic novels for children and young adults and is hoping to make them the topic of her dissertation.

    WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE? Send your name, the grade level(s) you teach, the title of book that you put to work, and a line or two about how you use it in your classroom to engage-membership@/.
    © 2012 Aimee Rogers. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
    Read More
  • HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a story about a young troll right before Christmas struggling to find his way in the world and family. The story opens with the narrator explaining that trolls’ tails fall off when they become helpful and kind. Instead of wanting that to happen, the troll, Rollo, runs away from home seeking to find someplace where he can “do what he wants.”
    • Blog Posts
    • Putting Books to Work

    Putting Books to Work: Jan Brett's HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

    by Kathy Prater
     | Dec 20, 2011
    HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Jan Brett (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011)
    Pre-K through Third Grade


    HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a story about a young troll right before Christmas struggling to find his way in the world and family. The story opens with the narrator explaining that trolls’ tails fall off when they become helpful and kind. Instead of wanting that to happen, the troll, Rollo, runs away from home seeking to find someplace where he can “do what he wants.”

    He attempts to live with many animals along the way and comes to a realization about helping. He thinks he won’t have to make a bed when he is with the owls’ family but then is forced to try to fly. With the bear family, Rollo was enjoying the luxury of not cutting wood until having a close call with a hive of bees. He also tried living with an otter family, a lynx family, and a moose family. Each place had its own trouble although it was different trouble than what Rollo was running away from. Rollo realizes that home is where he needs to be and has quite a creative trip getting back home with the aid of a shed moose antler. Once returning home, Rollo has a change of heart about helping out and the cat gets a new chew toy—Rollo’s tail.

    As is common in Brett’s books, the inset pictures tell another side of the story. They show the actions of Rollo’s family missing him while preparing for Christmas on the left side of the story, and give hints to the next page’s events on the right side. As always, there is a picture story within the picture story.

    Cross-curricular Connections: Character Education, Science, Reading, Art, Math

    Ideas for Classroom Use:

    Helping Out (Pre-K through Third Grade)

    The purpose of this activity is to engage the children’s prior knowledge and events at home to help build on work ethic, reinforcing the skill of retelling and composing. After reading the book to children, discuss as a group or in small groups, the actions Rollo chose when confronted with work that might be boring or difficult. Talk with the students about different types of work done by each animal in the book and how each animal felt about their own work. Also discuss the change in Rollo’s behavior as he was exposed to new jobs and ideas.

    Apply this knowledge to the students’ own lives and have them share in pairs or small groups what they find difficult or mundane as a chore at home. Have students work in pairs or individually to create a story about what they feel is a difficult task and compare it to something that could be even harder.

    Final products could be written compositions for older students, or drawings with dictation for younger students. Have students share their work with classmates and encourage discussion. Remind students to use positive statements in order to be kind to other authors.

    Timelines (Second and Third Grade)

    The purpose of this activity is to have students compare the time Rollo spends away from home with the time it appears to be taking in the inset pictures, reinforcing the skill of sequencing. The story says that Rollo stayed with the owls until the owlets started to fly and with the bear family until the end of the summer. Have the students document changes through the pictures and the narrative of the story, estimating the number of days Rollo stayed in each place.

    Then, in small groups or individually, have students create a time line of events in the story words and in the pictures on each page. Timelines should be written and illustrated with explanations. Display the time lines together so students can compare their time line to other groups. Discuss the differences between the perception of time for Rollo, the understanding of time by the groups in the time lines, and actuality.

    Animals and Challenges (Pre-K through Third Grade)

    After reading the story, talk with students about things animals do that we may not think of as work, reinforcing connection of prior knowledge to stories in books. Have students choose an animal to illustrate and tell about what the animal does that may be hard for a person to do. As a contrasting activity, have students discuss some things their animal does that a person may be able to do as well. Older students can research unusual animals and younger students can use familiar animals such as a dog or cat. Share information in a newscaster type setting for older students or in group meetings for younger students.

    Additional Resources and Activities:

    Jan Brett's website This website is the home of Jan Brett and includes links to her many books, activity pages, and interactive content. At the time of publication, no activities were included for HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, but many other activities would be adaptable to use with the book.

    Wild Animals A-Z This website, hosted by Discovery, has a list of wild animals of all kinds. Mammals, birds, invertebrates, etc., are all included with videos, links to additional information, and interactive quizzes. This site would be a good starting point for choosing and learning about an animal.

    Timelines: A Timeless Teaching Tool This article contains advice and ideas on using timelines to teach students of all ages. The information is broken down into subjects and grade levels. There are also multiple links to additional information concerning timelines.

    Kathy Prater is a Reading Specialist and Pre-Kindergarten teacher in Starkville, Mississippi. She tutors students with dyslexia and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. Her passions include reading, writing, and helping students at all levels to find motivation for lifelong reading and learning. She believes that every child can become a successful reader if given the right tools and encouragement. She has been teaching Christmas Around the World for multi-grade students for the past 18 years.

    WANT TO WRITE FOR ENGAGE? Send your name, the grade level(s) you teach, the title of book that you put to work, and a line or two about how you use it in your classroom to engage-membership@/.

    © 2011 Kathy Prater. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
    Read More
Back to Top

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives