Frank, A. (1967). Anne Frank: diary of a young girl. New York: Doubleday division of Random House Inc.
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl is a true and moving story about a young Jewish girl who experienced the Holocaust and concentration camps. On Anne’s thirteenth birthday, June 12th 1942, she received a diary that she used to write about what she was experiencing in life. At first the diary is filled with a normal young teenager’s life until Semitism really starts taking place in her life. As she starts to experience the Nazi’s and hardships related to that, her diary begins to be filled with fear, nervousness, and many other feelings. Her family was forced into hiding once the Navi’s invaded the Netherlands. Anne went through so much adversity and hard times in which she wrote about in her diary. It is easy to see how Anne matured through her writing, since her mannerisms begin to change as she gets older and more experienced. This novel shows great strength and courage despite the end of the story. As she matures, in her writing it is clear to see that she starts to come to peace with her fate. Since she is aware of her fate, as it approaches she is very courageous and calm through this devastating part of her life. The power of this book lies in the reality of the life she was living. Since Anne was a real person it is easy for the reader to identify with the fear and nervousness that she endured. This book is perfect for your classroom if you have a Holocaust unit. By reading this primary source students will be able to get a firsthand view of what the Holocaust was and how dreadful it was. Even though this is not the most upbeat book, the Holocaust is a necessary part of history to learn about and this piece of literature is perfect for that.
About the Author:
Anne Frank was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party. Up until age 13 Anne thought she lived a normal life until her family went into hiding in 1942. Since the Nazi’s were looking for Jewish people to take to concentration camps, she and her family were in great danger. Her life ends, with millions of other Jews, in a concentration camp. Information was found at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/frank.html.
Keats, E. (1962). The snowy day. New York, Viking Press.
Genre: Multicultural fiction
Ezra Jack Keats’ classic picture book The Snowy Day is a great, short easy read. This book is especially special because it features an African American. It was made in 1962 when diversity was looked down upon and even though it is an old book, it still is a great read for kids today. It is an example one of the first multicultural books. When Peter wakes up one morning he finds snow on the ground. Therefore he makes snow angels, different tracts with his feet in the snow, and made a snowman. The reader will see him experiencing a snow day which is a very relatable topic for young children. This book can introduce snow to your children and give them ideas of what activities to do in their first snow experience! Snow days are very enjoyable times and every kid should experience snow the right way when they are young. Also it is an example that any kid is normal and can have fun playing in the snow doing normal things. It does not matter if they are white, tan, purple, black or green, kids love snow and they deserve to enjoy it! This message should be taught to your kids because equality is essential in our lives today. Read this to your child before they experience their first snow day or just because they like to read about snow!
About the Author/Illustrator:
From when Ezra Jack Keats was young he had always known he wanted to be an artist. As he grew up he had always been awarded with countless art honors. This pattern continued until he was an adult and a very successful Author and Illustrator. Ezra’s first children’s book that he illustrated was Jubilant for Sure by Elisabeth Hubbard Lansing in 1954. Due to the memory of being targeted of discrimination, Keats has compassion and understanding for those who suffered like hardships. Keats started working on a new series of books: “Then began an experience that turned my life around—working on a book with a black kid as hero. None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I’d begun to illustrate children’s books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book.” Even though much of Keats’ work is dated his works still promote respectful and powerful themes that everyone should take notice of. Information was found at http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/about/index.html.
Willis, J. (1999). Susan laughs. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Genre: Special Needs
Grades: K and 1st
It is very common to have a child or student who is handicapped or disabled. At times it is difficult to find an appropriate, deferential book that addresses special needs kids. If you are having this issue, worry no more! Susan Laughs is a magnificent fictional story about a young, handicapped girl named Susan. Throughout the book Susan is shown doing activities and feeling emotions just like kids without disabilities do. For example, she is shown being loud, creating trouble, swimming, and painting. The moral of this simple picture book is that a handicapped child is a normal child. A very valuable lesson to learn in life is the importance of equality. Children need to be taught that every child is different but no matter what kind of hair color or body type they have, or if they have a disability- no one should ever be treated differently than any other kid. Since this book is an easy read with vibrant pictures, it will be easy for your child to understand the moral of the story. This books make you feel happy and warm, without making you pity handicapped children, which is an apropriate feeling related to these kids. Jeanne Willis does an amazing job at creating an easy read for children to understand but displays one of the most important lessons to learn. Pick up this book to teach your kid a lesson they will never forget!
About the Author
Jeane Willis has not stopped writing since she was 5 years old. She has written countless books, not just picture books. She has authored series, novels, and nonfiction books. Awards she has won include the Children’s Book Award, The Sheffield Children’s Book Award and the Silver Smarties Prize. Other popular books she has written are Who’s in the Loo? and Misery Moo. Information was found at: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/jeanne-willis/.
About the Illustrator
Born in England, Tony Ross, attended the Liverpool School of Art. He has illustrated for many authors including Ronald Dahl. But he also writes and illustrates his own books. In 1976 he created Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There are many videos featuring his work and also some of his book have been turned into cartoons on television. Information was found at: http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=authC2D9C28A0284033B20nLl2CCBDF1.
Siegel, S. (2006). To dance. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Genre: Graphic Novel
To Dance is a precious graphic novel about Siena Cherson Siegel’s life. This book leads the reader inside to her life as a dancer. Siegel tells her story from when she was a little girl up until she goes to college. She undergoes moving from one home to another, new dance classes, meeting new people, a divorce between her parents, a boyfriend, quitting dancing, going to college, and much more. From Puerto Rico, her birthplace, she goes to Boston for dance school and then ends up dancing with the New York City Ballet. This book is great for a young teenager to read especially if he or she is a dancer because they will be able to relate to the story and maybe learn from the Siegel’s mistake or what she experienced. Siegel’s husband Mark who is the illustrator, uses light colors that make sense with the story since it is a female novel. Through the faces of the characters you will be able to understand and feel what they are expieriencing. The graphic novel teaches hard work and dedication like she had throughout the story. These are two characteristics that are necessary to have throughout one’s life so by learning these leassons through this story is really helpful for the young reader so they can acquire these life skills. Read this with your daughter and she will be entertained and will learn valuable lessons about hard work.
About the Author and Illustrator
Siena Cherson Siegel has not made many books but the memoir To Dance is certainly a great start. She teams up to make a wonderful story based on her past. Mark Siegel is a wonderful illustrator who’s most well known work is in To Dance. While she wrote this graphic novel he created great art work. His work is a graphic artwork in a feminine way coincide with the theme of the book. He uses bring colors and detailed drawings to bring the comic strips to life. Information was found from: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Mark-Siegel/707637/books and http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Siena-Cherson-Siegel/21443453/books.
Speare, E. (1958). The witch of blackbird pond. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
Set in Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1987, The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a mysterious and thrilling book. Kit Tyler becomes an orphan once her Grandfather passes away and moves to Wethersfield to live with her Aunt and Uncle. They are English settlers who she has never met. She not only struggles with trying to be true to herself and belong but she struggles with trying to survive in this new home. A friendship with Hannah Tupper gives her hope even though she is believed to be a witch by the colonists. Kit runs into a dilemma between being a faithful friend or falling into the towns narrow beliefs. There is often a conflict between the adolescent young people and the authority. This is definitely an aspect where young teenagers relate to since they experience conflict with rules and authority daily. Also the romance in the novel attracts a long of young female readers, so it is a great read for girls especially! Speare does a great job with building tension throughout the book by the way she writes. This book is a really great mystery and historical fiction. The location Speare chooses are real and based on real events. Pick up this book to find out what really happens to Kit when she makes this new and scary move to Wethersfield, Connecticut!
About the Author
Elizabeth George Speare is an extremely successful author who is known for her many great works which have won awards. Some of her well known books include The Bronze Bow, Calico Captive, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Of those, The Bronze Bow and The Witch of Blackbird Pond have both received Newberry awards. Information found about Speare was found at http://www.biblio.com/author_biographies/2111937/Elizabeth_George_Speare.html.
Lowry, L. (1989). Number the stars. New York: Dell Publishing.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars is a fantastic, short novel told by the perspective of Annemarie Johansen, a ten year old Danish girl. During the early 1940’s Denmark was undergoing the Nazi invasion and therefore the relocation of Jews. When the family of Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, was being forced to move, Ellen moves in with the Johansen’s and pretends to be part of their family. Through many deaths, run-ins with the Nazis, and a lot of traveling, Annemarie is required to show great strength and bravery to help save her best friend and to keep her safe. Young readers can easily relate to Annemarie because of her dilemma with her best friend. They can understand what Annemarie is experiencing because they love their best friends as much as she loves hers. Lowry’s style of writing keeps the reader hooked. Since she has great descriptions that makes the reader be able to visualize the plot, you’ll never want to put it down! Even though this story is historical fiction it provides great information about the time period of the Nazi’s invasion. It also gives the reader an inside view of what life was like during this trying time. This book is an educational, entertaining story that is great to read in schools or just as a night time story.
About the Author
After marrying young and having 4 children, Lois Lowry went back to school to receive her degree and begun to write professionally. She is the author of many wonderful books including The Giver, A Summer to Die, and Gathering Blue. Even though each one of these books is different she says that she uses the same general theme with each one: the importance of human connections. Pick up one of her books for a deep and refreshing read! Visit her at http://www.loislowry.com/.
Kirk, D. (1994). Miss Spider’s tea party. New York: Scholastic Inc. Callaway Edition.
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
Grades: Kindergarten- 1st
Kirk’s picture book, Miss Spider’s Tea Party, is an animated, colorful tale about Miss Spider attempting to have a tea party. When she asks other bugs to join her for tea, they quickly decline in fear they would get eaten because they thought she was a “scary” spider. One bug finds out how truly nice Miss Spider is and spreads the word to the other bugs. In the end, Miss Spider gets the tea party she deserves. A lesson can be learned from the rude behavior from the mean bugs in Miss Spider’s Tea Party. Pick up this book to teach your children to never judge others based on their appearance; they should always get to know them first before making judgments. The illustrator uses so many bright blues, yellows, greens, and reds in the pictures that will directly attract the readers eye. The story is written is poetic form which attracts young readers due to the rhyming words. This is a colorful and creative way to teach an important lesson!
About the Author/Illustrator
David Kird learned abou bugs and painting while growing up in central Ohio. He now has been making toys and art for children for over ten years. He has made many books including the Biddle Book series and the Nova Robot series. Information about him can be found at http://biography.jrank.org/pages/1670/Kirk-David-1955.html.
Pfister, M. (1992). The Rainbow Fish. New York: North-South Books
Genre: Picture Book, Fantasy
The Rainbow Fish is an inspiring story about the most beautiful fish with shimmering, gorgeous scales. In the beginning of the book, Rainbow Fish was self-centered and had an arrogant personality; whenever any fish asked for one of his many scales, he would always decline and never would share. Throughout the story, Rainbow Fish slowly realizes that being beautiful is not the key to happines. The lesson learned is that sharing and being a good friend is how you become happy. This lesson Rainbow Fish learns is very important and should be taught to all children. The Rainbow Fish’s character develops and is defined through the text and illustrations therefore making it easy for children to relate to. By seeing Rainbow Fish’s reactions on his face and reading how he is feeling, the reader can sympathize with his character. By sympathizing with Rainbow Fish’s character, the reader will be able to learn the moral of the story. Share this story with your kids and not only will the be entertained by the wonderful, iridescent illustrations but they will learn a lifelong lesson.
About the Author/Illustrator
Born in Switzerland, Marcus Pfister started out as a graphic desgner of an advertising agency. He then realized he wanted to dedicate more time to children’s books. He illustrated and wrote his first book The Sleepy Owl in 1983, his career blossomed from there. Rainbow Fish is his best piece thus far but other books he has created are Penguin Pet and Hopper. Information can be found at http://www.bravemonster.com/authors/marcuspfister.htm.
Carle, E. (1986). Papa, please get the moon for me. Natick, MA: Picture Book Studio.
Genre: Picture Book, Realistic Fiction
Grades: Pre-K – 1st
Papa, please get the moon for me is a precious story that displays the love that a father has for his daughter. Monica feels so close to the moon that she tries to grab it and play with it, yet she is not close enough. Therefore, she asks her dad to retrieve the moon for her so she can play with it. Her father is able to find an extra long ladder and climbs up to the moon. When he reaches the moon and it becomes small enough to carry he takes it back to his daughter. This is a great bed time read for a father and young child, it is easily understood and the illustrations are very original. The illustrations are so great and original because of the action and detail portrayed in the pictures. Also there is an interactive part of the book where the pages extend, wich is always fun for readers. Pick up this book for a short, heartfilled read and you will not be disappointed!
About the Author/Illustrator
Eric Carle is a very successful authr of many popular books including The Ver Busy Spider, The Foolish Tortoise, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He started out as a graphic designer for the New York Times and then an art director for an adverstising company. He found his niche when he was asked to illustrate a book and his career blossomed from there. He has very recognizable art that is adored by millions of readers. He always wants children to be able to learn about their world from his books. Information found about Eric Carle is from http://www.eric-carle.com/bio.html.
Scieska, J. (1989). The true story of the 3 little pigs! New York: Puffin Books.
Genre: Picture Book, Modern Fantasy
Have you ever read the story of the Three Little Pigs? If you have not, this version of the original is completely different and one you will not forget! Scieska’s hilarious “remake” of the Three Little Pigs story is a must read. In this edition, the Big, Bad Wolf narrates and tells his side of the story. Throughout the book he explains what happens at each Pig’s house and how in the end he gets framed. Lane Smith’s illustrations perfectly describe the story and are very detailed. The illustrations reinforce the text making the book even better. In one illustration, when the Wolf is wiping his nose with a tissue, Smith even drew the patterns on the tissue! It is written in simple language and is appropriate for mostly all ages in Elementary school. Share this book with your class or children and your audience will not be disappointed!
About the Author
Jon Scieska started working as an elementary and secondary teacher but soon discovered that his passion for life was creating books for children. Jon has won so many different awards and has sold over 11 million copies global. Some of his other famous books are The Frog Prince Continued, The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, Math Curse, and Science Verse. Visit him at http://www.jsworldwide.com/just_the_facts.html.
About the Illustrator
Books that Lane Smith has either authored or illustrated have made the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best sellers list, won a Caldecott award, or some other kind of award. Lane Smith has paired up with Jon Scieska many times to create hilarious, original childrens book. Visit him at http://www.lanesmithbooks.com/bio.htm.