2 Following

Ms. Nguyen's Favorite Books

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree shows the unconditional love a tree has for a young boy. Every day, the boy eats her apples, swings from her branches, and rests under her shade. One day, the boy stops coming. As the boy grows, he starts wanting more than her apples and her shades. The tree, who loves the boy, gives and gives until she was nothing more than a stump. When the boy comes back needing a place to rest, she is more than happy to give him a place to rest. 


This book is a classic children's book with so many activities to do with the book. Students can journal about a time they needed help and somebody is willing to give a hand to completing a problem and solution activity to sequencing the storyline. I would have my students act out the story with multiple narrators and different students to play the boy at different stages in life. 


AR Level: 2.6

The Juice Box Bully

The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up For Others - Bob Sornson, Maria Dismondy, Kim Shaw

The Juice Box Bully is a book to empower children to stand up to bullies rather than being a bystander. Pete is a new student in Mr. Peltzer's class. He bullies the other children from stealing their soccer ball to squeezing juice onto Ruby's white shirt. Instead of letting Pete get away with his antics, the students step up. They learned that Pete was bullied by other children at his old school so he starts bullying other children before they can be mean to him. The students tell Pete about 'the promise' they made to Mr. Peltzer. Pete later apologizes. 


An after activity in the classroom of any grade could be the students and teacher creating their own 'promise' for when they see bullying happening. Together, the students and teacher can sign the promise. 


AR Level: 3.2

How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids

How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids - Tom Rath, Maurie J. Manning, Mary Reckmeyer

Are you a bucket filler? What does that mean? How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids is another great character education book about kindness. We all have invisible buckets that dictate how we feel; we feel great when it is full and we feel awful when it is empty. How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids follows Felix as he learns to fill the buckets of his friends, family, and teachers through interactions. Along the way, he learns that by filling others' buckets, he is filling his own bucket. 


There are so many activities to do with this book. This is a book that should be read during the first few weeks of school to create a positive classroom environment among the students. In my classroom, I would have the students come up with ways to be a 'bucket filler' and ways to be a 'bucket dipper.' I would have the lists displayed in the classroom as a reminder for students to be a 'bucket filler.' 


AR Level: 2.4

The Recess Queen

The Recess Queen - Alexis O'Neill, Laura Huliska-Beith

Mean Jean is the Recess Queen. Every day at recess, Mean Jean blasts through the playground to swing, kick, and bounce before everybody else. "Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced." Until one day, Katie Sue arrives. Katie Sue, unaware of the playground rules, swung before Mean Jean swung, kicked before Mean Jean kicked, and bounced before Mean Jean bounced. Katie Sue then offers Mean Jean an invitation to play together


In my classroom, I would have students, in groups, complete a character trait analysis on Mean Jean and Katie Sue. The students will compare and contrast the two characters based on texts and illustrations. 


AR Level: 3.0

The Sneetches

The Sneetches and Other Stories - Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss' books are classic children's books. The Sneetches is about the Star Belly Sneetches and the Plain Belly Sneetches. The Star Belly Sneetches think that they are the best and look down upon the ones without stars. Sylvester McMonkey McBean comes along with his Star-On and Star-Off machines. 


I saw this book being taught in during my placement in the spring. The teacher read the book to the students and then showed the movie version. The students then had to compare and contrast the book version and the movie version on a venn diagram. The Sneetches can be integrated in a social studies lesson about segregation and the civil rights time period. The Star Belly Sneetches looked down upon the Plain Belly 


AR Level: 3.4

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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

A classic! Chicka Chicka Boom Boom follows the alphabets as they race up the coconut tree. Will there be enough room? 


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is used to teach alphabet recognition for early readers. A science lesson can be integrated into the book. Students will predict if coconuts will float or sink in the water. Students can make predictions and vote on what they think will happen. Then, the teacher and students can test the coconuts in a container of water. A literacy lesson for the younger students can be using the letters in the their names for the coconut trees. 


Lexile Level: AD530L

The Ugly Pumpkin

The Ugly Pumpkin - Dave Horowitz

A holiday themed book for all ages! In a pumpkin patch, there lived an ugly pumpkin. He does not fit in with the other pumpkins on the patch. Thanksgiving comes around he finds out his true identity. 


An activity to do with older students can compare and contrast the story of The Ugly Pumpkin with The Ugly Duckling. A science lesson can be experimenting with a squash. 


AR Level: 2.3

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman, Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace is a great empowering book for children of all ages. Grace is a girl who loved stories and has a great imagination. Grace constantly adopts different identities from Joan of Arc to Aladdin. When the school puts on a Peter Pan play, Grace knew who she wanted to be. After going to see a famous black ballerina with Nana, despite her classmates' comments, Grace is determined to become Peter Pan. 


Before reading the book, I would discuss with the students about the cover of the book. I would talk about a painting of one self is called a self portrait. After reading the book and discussing important parts of the story, I would let the students complete a self portrait to be displayed in the classroom. 


AR Level: 3.5

First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters - Julie Danneberg, Judy Love

The first day of school brings excitement, happiness, and jitters to students and grown ups alike! First Day Jitters can be read to students of any grade on the first day of a new school year. Many students can relate to the character in the book on the first day of school. 


The book shows that even teachers feel nervous about the first day of school. It can help ease the students' minds. An activity I would do in my classroom would be creating a "On the first of school, I feel" poster and let the students write how they feel. For younger students, they can write their name or stick a picture that represent them on a pre-made chart to show how many students feel the same way they feel. 


AR Level: 2.4

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows is another children's book about the bond between a man and his dogs. Billy's dream is to own two dogs. When he's finally able to save enough money, Old Dan and Little Ann came into his life. Together, the three become the finest hunting team in the valley. 


This is another book that stuck with me from elementary school. I would have students, in pairs or small groups, bring in 5 objects that represent key aspects of the story. The students will present the objects in class as a focus on symbols. 


AR Level: 4.9

Old Yeller

Old Yeller - Steven Polson, Fred Gipson

Old Yeller follows the story of an unforgettable bond between a young boy and a stray dog. Travis Coates, a fourteen-year-old boy, is left to take care of his family when his father sets out for Kansas when a stray dog shows up to steals food from the family. 'Old Yeller' proves his loyalty when he protected the family from danger. The stray dog becomes Travis' best friend and support. 


I really enjoyed reading this book when I was in elementary school. It was a book that stuck with me as a 'good book.' In my classroom, I would have students complete a cause/effect chart as well as a character map to focus on character traits. 


AR Level: 4.8

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

In a small town, two outcast children become friends. There is a nearby forest they named Terabithia. Terabithia is only accessible by a swing rope over the creek. In this Terabithia, they escape reality. They are royalty. They are not being bullied. They are not bored. 


I think doing a literature circle with older students would be a great idea with this book. In a small group of 3-5 students, they will meet and discuss parts of the book with different roles and responsibilities. 


AR Level: 4.6

The Napping House

The Napping House - Audrey Wood, Don Wood

The Napping House is a story about a cozy bed, a snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, and a snoozing cat. One by one, the characters snuggle on the cozy bed until an unwanted guest arrives. 


This is the book that I can recite in my sleep. I have read this book hundreds of times to the three and four year olds in my Sunday School class. This book is used for early childhood to kindergarten. The book can be read when students are settling down for rest time in the lower grades. An after activity I would do with the students after reading the book is to have the students draw about what they think the characters are dreaming about in the napping house.  


AR Level: 2.8

Where the Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

One night, Max puts on his wolf costume and creates mischief. His mother then sends him to bed without supper. That night in his room, he travels to the place where the wild things are. There, he becomes the king of all things wild. Max realizes that being king of all things wild is nothing if he is lonely. So he travels back to his room where a hot supper is waiting for him. 


This is a classic children's book about children's imagination. There are so much to do with this book no matter what grade. I would have my students write about a time where they felt like a wild thing and give them the opportunity to share it with the class. 


AR Level: 3.4


Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

Brian, a thirteen-year-old boy, was on his way to visit his father for the summer when his pilot suffered a heart attacked and died. Brian crash landed into the lake in a forest. He must learn to survive on his own with nothing but a hatchet given to him by his mother before he left. The book keeps readers wanting more with the suspenseful plot and twists. 


Because this book is aimed for upper elementary students, I would focus on the plot pyramid with this book as well as problems and solutions. I would also let students journal about what they would do if they were in Brian's shoes and have the students share their thoughts. 


AR Level: 5.7

Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Should I Share My Ice Cream? - Mo Willems

A fantastic book about sharing for character education. The story follows Gerald the Elephant and his "awesome, yummy, sweet, super, great, tasty, nice, cool" ice cream cone.  Throughout the book, Gerald debates whether he should share his treat with his best friend, Piggie. As he weighs the pros and cons of sharing, his treat was melting. By the time he reaches the conclusion of sharing, his treat has melted into a puddle at his feet. Just then, Piggie comes with her ice cream cone to share with him.  


In my classroom, I would let the students spell vocabulary words with ice cream. The students will use letters printed on ice cream scoops to spell different words. For younger students, they can spell their name. 


AR Level: 1.1