Lutz's Learners

Lutz's Learners

I really enjoy children's literature because I am an aspiring special education teacher. I love classical children's literature, as well as more modern literature!

"Henry's Freedom Box"- Slavery Unit
Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad - Ellen Levine

My co-operating teacher introduced me to this inspiring and emotional true story about Henry "Box" Brown. This story takes place during slavery and is a story about a young man who escapes through the underground railroad. After being torn from his mother at a young age, he started his very own family while living with his new owner. Year passed, and Henry felt as though his family was normal until his wife and children were sold at the slave market. With tears in his eyes, he watched his family in shackles, ride off knowing he would never see them again. A kind man, who opposed slavery, helped Henry construct an escape plan. To find out Henry's fate you will have to read the rest! This text will definitely be included in a history unit in my classroom. It gives a great perspective on how children lived in terror during slavery. This book is leveled at 3.0 on the accelerated reader scale. 

Thank You Mr. Falker
Thank You, Mr. Falker - Patricia Polacco

This text is not so much instructional as the others I have posted, but it sure is empowering and inspiring. I do not know anyone who is dyslexic but I am sure I will have a student who is in years to come. This story could be used to prevent bullying and also encourage a child who may have dyslexia. Not only is this text inspiring to a child who faces these challenges, but it is inspiring to us educators who at times can forget the reason we love teaching. Our calling is to empower and help our students be the best they can become. This text is quite lengthy but the message behind it is very powerful. Along with the text, the pictures are exquisite and help the reader understand the text on an emotional level. Tricia struggles to overcome her dyslexia and is passed on by all her previous teachers until being placed in Mr. Falker's class. He truly teaches her to read and feeds her hunger for knowledge unlike any teacher she has had before. This book must be read to receive the full extent of the message. This book is leveled at 4.1 on the AR leveling system. 

Because of Winn-Dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

"Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo is my hands down favorite children's chapter book. I remember reading this book in third grade and it increased my love for chapter books tremendously. The story is about a little girl named Opal who moves to a new town and has to meet new friends and adjust to a new environment. Fortunately she meets a dog who changes her world and helps her get through many trials such as asking difficult questions to her father. This book is a great text to use for setting, main events, and all the elements a story has to offer. Along with these, it has great vocabulary for a beginning lover of chapter books and will draw a reader in quickly. When discussing theme, this text has several different realistic themes and each student could easily write about one. The accelerated reader level of this text is 3.9. 

The Great Kapok Tree and making inferences
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest - Lynne Cherry

After being reintroduced to this text after many years, I fell in love with it all over again. My co-operating teacher read this story during a whole group lesson on inferencing and I was amazed at how well this text worked with the standard. Essentially the story is about a man who is contemplating cutting down a large tree in the Amazon Forest. Before doing so, he falls asleep beneath the tree and the animals and a child speak to the man in an attempt to convince him to decide differently. Each page gives an opportunity for the teacher to stop and ask the students to use their background knowledge and infer what would happen if the man were to cut down the tree. Within each page, there were clues that if the student was listening he or she would easily be able to make an inference. This story is leveled as a 3.8 on the accelerated reader system. 

Library Lion and understand feelings and actions
Library Lion - Michelle Knudsen, Kevin Hawkes

I had never heard of this book, until I began visiting my CT's classroom and she taught a unit revolving around this text. If you have never read this book by Michele Knudsen it is one to go on the must read list. This book is about a librarian, Miss Merriweather, who is very particular about her rules for the library. The aide in the library, Mr. McBee is also pretty particular, but he becomes jealous when this new friend the "lion" begins visiting the library daily. Mr. McBee's feelings cause him to take actions he would most likely not normally take. This is an upset to the lion who also has to choose the best actions for his feelings. I won't spoil the story but the book has a great ending and will have students connecting feelings and actions better than before. Library Lion is leveled at 2.8 on the accelerated reader system. 

And Tango Makes Three
And Tango Makes Three - Justin Richardson, Henry Cole, Peter Parnell

Among much scrutiny, And Tango Makes Three is a story about two dad penguins who care for an abandoned egg. The egg hatches and Tango makes her grand appearance. This nonfiction story, takes place in Central Park Zoo in New York and is a part of the banned books collection. I agree that this text is a little risqué and should be used for special purposes to make sure no parents get offended. This book would be great in the counselors office for a child who has a homosexual family and needs some encouragement or who may have questions regarding what homosexuality entails. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert

The classic story, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, is exceptional for a kindergarten or pre-k learner. This book can help those struggling with their alphabet and leaves them remembering a catchy tune. The rhyming of this story makes the text even more interesting and the student experiences some word play with some of the letters, including loose tooth T and black eyed P. In my experience with this book, it has been effective for all readers and even the oldest of readers enjoy this text. 

Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type
Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type - Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin

Growing up, this was one of my favorite books to read. I remember checking it out several times at my schools library. This book is perfect for the students who love animals and especially love farm animals. Doreen Cronin writes this book perfectly to enable its use in the classroom to promote writing letters. The format the cows use is exactly how a letter should be written and it would be a great example to show younger students. You could have the students write a letter to Farmer Brown, the cows, or just a parent but the guidelines shown in the text are perfect for a lesson in writing letters. 

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell! Book and Audiocassette Tape Set (Paperback Book and Audio Cassette Tape) - Lucille Colandro, Jared Lee, Skip Hinnant

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Shell, is a spin off from There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly. Personally, I like this version because it involves the beach. The author, Lucille Colandro, does a great job to sequence the next culprit the lady swallows. Any of these versions, could be used to help students with sequencing. Have the students fill out a sequencing activity sheet or divide the class into groups and assign each member a different object then have the students put their selves in order. 

"A Bad Case of Stripes"
A Bad Case of Stripes - David Shannon

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon has multiple lessons you can teach. The book starts out as a tale about Camilla Cream, a girl who loves lima beans, but she gets made fun of for eating the beans. Her friends tease her and she decides to stop eating the beans and the next morning she wakes up with rainbow colored skin. She goes to school and her friends tease her even more than before and she is sent home by the principal for being a distraction. In the end, a sweet little old lady finds her cure of lima beans and feeds them into her giant mouth. Camilla turns back into her normal self and never refuses lima beans again. With this story, you can do a cause and effect, external and internal traits, adjective, and even a lesson involving authenticity to yourself. 

Home, Away, Home
Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are is a timeless classic that features the infamous home, away, home story. The main character, Max, gets into mischief throughout the day and finally his mother has had enough, so she sends him to bed without any dinner. While enduring his punishment his room turns into a forest and he travels by boat to where the wild things live. Max becomes king of the wild things but he still feels something missing. In the end, Max misses his family and returns home to a hot meal waiting for him. Throughout this story, there are many events that can be used to explain cause and effect. Making a "T chart" activity sheet would be beneficial to have the students understand the meaning of these. Also, this story includes great vocabulary, so a mini vocabulary lesson would be beneficial before reading the text. 

Weather Facts
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - Judi Barrett, Ron Barrett

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs may seem like a silly text to discuss weather, but reviewing the different types of weather would be beneficial. This story by Jodi Barnett, includes vivid words that paint a picture in the readers mind and incredible illustrations. The story is essentially a grand father telling his grandchildren a fictional bedtime story about a town named Chewandswallow. Chewandswallow is quite the town because instead of rain, snow, or ice, food pours from the sky instead. The town does not have super markets where the residents can buy groceries, instead they rely on their meals to come from the sky. After a storm brews in the city, the residents must find a way out of the city and find a new place to call home. With this book, you could also use it as an example of how to over come challenges and think outside the box. This text is most appropriate for second and third grade readers.

Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, Not Buddy is a wonderful resource to use in the classroom. This book would be great because it is from the point of view of a ten year old boy who is living in the Great Depression. Bud, is left homeless after his mother dies and is placed in an orphanage. Unfortunately, this orphanage is not the best place to live and the foster home he is placed in is much worse. After sleeping in a shed to being beaten by his foster brother, Bud finally has enough of the abuse and sneaks away. He begins on a journey to find his "father" and along the way has quite an adventure. In the end Bud finds peace with his final home and can at last feel safe. Using this in the classroom would be quite easy especially when interesting a young, reluctant reader. Introducing the Great Depression and discussing Hoovervilles would incorporate history into literacy as well. During reading and language arts the class could discuss the elements of the story and correct spelling of words used in the text. Since this story is from the point of view of a ten year old, this would be easy for the students to read on their own and also keep them interested. In my opinion, Bud, Not Buddy should be an great read for a fifth grade student. #UMLitblock  #GreatDepression #Hooperville 

5 Stars
Outlook in the classroom
The Pout-Pout Fish book and CD storytime set - Deborah Diesen

This is one of my favorites! Currently my daughter is obsessed with this book and I love the story it tells. The Pout Pout Fish is definitely a frowny fellow, who encounters many fish in the sea whom encourage him to turn his frown upside down. He clearly finds himself as dreary and will not change until he meets a certain Kiss Kiss Fish. She plants a kiss on his pout and he finally sees that he is more than a pout pout fish. In the end, he plants a kiss on all those he pouted toward and has a change of heart. This story teaches students that it's all about perspective. You could use this book at the beginning of the year to encourage your students to have a positive attitude in the classroom. It would be ideal to have cheery faced student everyday but some days that will not happen. You could refer back to this book, and remind the class that all it takes is one compliment, smile, or nice gesture to turn a friends frown upside down.