The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate
A.R. 4.0
Genre:  Fantasy
Newbery Award

This is the story of the real-life Ivan, an ape held as the main attraction in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He spends his time watching TV and talking to his friends, Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, the stray dog.  He has human friends, too, and will need to find a way to communicate with them to keep his promise to Stella.  The events in the story are not real, but the emotions they create definitely are.  You will cheer for Ivan, think a little deeper about your own humanity, and never forget this book.  

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists
Nursery Rhyme Comics
by Charles Duffy
A.R. 3.8
Genre: Nonfiction/398.8 Nursery Rhymes

Collaborating with 50 famous cartoonists, Duffy has compiled a collection of nursery rhymes in comic form.  Today, students know fewer nursery rhymes than they have in the past.  This collection will help introduce them to the classics in a unique way.  There are some tough vocabulary words in some of these nursery rhymes and the comic illustrations give young readers visual cues to help them understand.  We have access to several comic strip and animation apps that students can use to create their own comic versions of nursery rhymes once inspired by this collection.

The Milk Makers
The Milk Makers
by Gail Gibbons
A.R. 3.0
Genre:  Nonfiction/637 - Farming

This book begins with the cows grazing in the field and ends with a family sitting at a table enjoying their carton of milk from the grocery store.  In between,  the reader learns about all the things the cow and the farmer does to bring that milk to the market.  The informative, engaging writing is accompanied by beautiful drawings with labels and diagrams to help explain all the complicated processes.
Old Liberty Bell
by Frances Rogers and Alice Beard
Genre:  Nonfiction/974.8 - American History

This book was published in 1942 making it a good candidate for weeding except that it is so interesting.  It tells the story of the liberty bell from its commission by the Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania in 1752 through its participating in the 150th anniversary of Independence Day in 1926 (which was less than 20 years prior to the publication of this book!).  You'll learn how it got the famous crack, how it was saved during the Revolutionary War, and how it was used throughout our history to ring for freedom and liberty. 

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path
Jim Thorpe's Bright Path 
by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by S.D. Nelson
A.R. 5.5
Genre:  Biography

Jim Thorpe was a Native American born in 1887.  He had to overcome many personal hardships, including the loss of both parents and his twin brother before he finished high school.  He remained devoted to hard work and developing his athletic potential eventually winning gold medals in pentathlon and decathlon at the summer Olympic games and playing professional baseball and football.  In 1999, Congress passed a resolution honoring him as the athlete of the century.  I'm guessing many of my students still have never heard of him.  These shorter biographies for the upper grade level readers don't get as much attention as they should.  I need to do a better job promoting them so that students can learn from the triumphs and trials of ordinary people that became famous.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
by Adele Q. Brown
A.R. 6.8
Genre: Biography

I dare say, all of my students have heard of Elvis.  This is a thorough biography of Elvis's early life through his death.  It's a great text for teaching nonfiction reading skills too, with plenty of captions, timelines, insets, and headings/subheadings to organize the information.  A child of the 70s, I knew most of the facts here except for one disturbing new one for me - Elvis received his only failing grade in music class.  It really makes you think, as a teacher, about how to authentically assess what your students know and can do in a given subject.

The Elements
The Elements (A True Book series)
by Matt Mullins
A.R. 6.0
Genre:  Nonfiction/546 - Chemistry

Like all the books in the True Book series, this text begins with a true or false question to frame your reading.  Did you know that chemistry developed out of attempts to find a way to make gold from less expensive matter and to find a potion that could extend life?  The elements are the building blocks for all matter, which is the focus of chemistry.  Eye-catching pictures, diagrams, and captions draw your attention to key facts while the text is organized in concise sections to aid comprehension.  You'll learn all the famous scientists in chemistry, including Boyle, Brand, Mendeleev, Ramsey, Rutherford, and Newton and how their contributions led to the creation of the periodic table we know today.  Read this book to learn all about how the periodic table is used to organize elements and how scientists are still discovering new elements today. 



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