We talked about books and read
- The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers; and
- With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzzane Slade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell.
At the end of With Books and Bricks, we read Booker T. Washington's words: "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." We discussed the obstacles he had to overcome to get an education and build a school.
We talked about math and read
- The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; and
- One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi.
In spite of the third graders' confidence that the Rani had made a good choice when she chose her reward of a single grain of ice on the first day and then an amount double that of the preceding day on each subsequent day for thirty days, I still heard "ahs" and "wows" as I unfolded the page showing her final payment in One Grain of Rice. Numbers become more real when you can visualize them.
We talked about freedom and read
- Two Parrots by Rashin; and
- Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
I asked the students to think about the merchant's conclusion in Two Parrots: "Freedom is more important than food and water and all the wealth in the world." That can be hard to understand when you have always known freedom. The students were troubled by Henry's plight, particularly when his wife and children were sold, and despite an unexpected fire drill midway through the story, Henry's Freedom Box was one of my favorite books of the month.
We talked about the joy in finding just the right word and read
- Nelly May Has Her Say by Cynthia DeFelice, illustrated by Henry Cole; and
- The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
I wished I had had the thesaurus my dad bought for me when I was seven to show the students as I told them how I loved reading through the lists of words. A thesaurus reminds me of Mark Twain's words: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and lightning."
And finally, we talked about inventions and read
- Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat; and
- Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse.
We talked about two inventions that had accidental beginnings--chocolate chip cookies and Post-It Notes. I have been waiting for a good chance to share Hoop Genius, one of my favorite books from last year, and finally found one.