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The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return. This story is one of my favorite children's books of all time. I loved it as a child and I think I have an even greater appreciation for it today. As a teacher is there anything we can teach children that is more important than the concept of love? I once read, "Children that are loved at home come to school to learn. Children that aren't loved at home come to school to be loved". So simple, yet so very true. Although I think children of any age could benefit from reading this book, I would most likely use it in a K-2nd grade classroom to teach students that love really is the gift that keeps on giving. When you condition children at a young age on how to love, to give to those that need it, and be kind always these values are more likely stick with them later on in life. When teachers live out the messages they convey students not only hear it but see it as well.

The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss

One wet, rainy day while mother is out, a boy and a girl sit dejectedly in their chairs, watching the rain beat against the window. They're bored. Suddenly, in bursts a large cat in a tall striped hat, ready to play — and not just ordinary games, oh no! This cat likes to create mischief and mayhem, and to aid him, he brings Thing One and Thing Two. These two small fuzzy blue imps race around the house, wreaking havoc. Who's going to clean up this mess? This classic Dr.Seuss book is a wonderful read for kids of all ages, but I would use it in my classroom for grades K-2nd. This book would be great to read for Dr.Seuss week as it has so many great activities that you could do as a class to go along with it. This classic book was also made into a movie which would be good for children to watch after reading the book in order to compare and contrast. It could also be used in small reading groups to help students with Phonemic Awareness. 

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he's on a mission. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression! Bud's got an idea that those posters will lead to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him. I would use this book in a 6th grade classroom to broaden my students knowledge of the Great Depression. This story also gives students a basic knowledge of the music in this time period, particularly Jazz. Other than for historical purposes I would use this book to show readers that everyone desires to have a family and be accepted by those around them. Bud was an orphan who wanted a family so badly he went on a quest to find his father and let nothing get in his way. Many students have no knowledge of what it means to be an orphan, to be in foster care, to not know your family, and to feel as if you are completely alone. Through Bud's story students will receive a better understanding of these things which will help them be more sympathetic and accepting to others.

Maniac Magee - Jerry Spinelli

He wasn't born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. And Maniac Magee became a legend. Even today kids talk about how fast he could run; about how he hit an inside-the-park "frog" homer; how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. But the thing Mania Magee is best known for is what he did for the kids from the East Side and those from the West Side.

He was special all right, and this is his story, and it's a story that is very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth. In the end Maniac solves his problems and finds his forever home. I would use this story in a 5th-6th grade classroom to try to teach students better ways to solve there problems. It is crucial for all students, especially older ones to know that  the solution for problems is never to run away from them. My 6th grade class at Centerville Middle School are currently reading this book and they love it so much that it encouraged me to want to use it in my own classroom as well. 

Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt

Time drags by for Winnie Foster, an eleven-year-old girl who lives in a house bordering the woods owned by her family. Winnie spends her summer days under the watchful eye of her grandmother. Most of the time it's too hot to be out in the sun, and when Winnie does actually venture outside, she never goes beyond the fence of the yard. But one morning she sneaks away into the woods and there she sees a young man drinking from a mysterious spring of water he uncovers at the base of tree. The young man, Jesse Tuck, discovers Winnie watching him. So he kidnaps her.

Actually, the entire Tuck family — Mae and Pa and Jesse's brother Miles — kidnap Winnie. They have to keep the spring that Winnie has seen a secret, because the strange water there makes anyone who drinks from it live forever. Long ago the Tucks unknowingly drank from the spring, and now the four of them are over 500 years old. They have come to learn that immortality is not a blessing but a curse. Winnie is won over by the kind family. But she's not the only one who knows their secret. A man wanting to buy the well and make it famous has been watching the Tucks all along, and the only way to stop him is to take away the life he so wants to make last forever. Soon, Winnie must help her new friends escape from the police; she must break every rule that she knows, to insure that the most important rule in life — death — is not broken by everyone else. While I have never read this book I plan on reading it to one day be able to use it in my future classroom. I would use this story in a 5th-6th grade classroom to explain the cycle of life to the students. In the story they thought drinking the water would be a good thing, but they quickly realized this did nothing but make things worse. I would also use this book to remind students that things are not always as good as they appear to be.

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

Thirteen-year old Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake, and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure. Brian distraught over his parents' divorce and the secret he carries is now truly alone.

Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day's challenges. Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage; an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive. I would use this book in a 5th-6th grade classroom to first off remind students of the importance of family. Divorce is a common thing, but that does not make it any less hard on kids. Through the story I hope students learn to love their family no matter how different they are and how much you disagree, because you never know when they can be taken from you or you taken from them. Just because the structure of your family changes it does not mean that your love will. I also hope students learn to not wallow in self pity, anger, bitterness, rejection, or despair, but instead find courage, determination, acceptance, and blessings in the midst of unfortunate situations. This book gives a great message on how you can survive any situation that is thrown your way if you simply work hard and believe in yourself.

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

There's only one thing Jess Aarons is looking forward to in fifth grade, and that's being the fastest kid in school. He's been practicing all summer. He hasn't had much else to do, since his mom spends all her time with his four sisters and his dad is always working.

But when Jess arrives at the school playground to show off his speed, his new neighbor, Leslie Burke, beats him to it. She's way faster than Jess. But instead of being jealous, Jess admires Leslie's skill, confidence, and wild imagination. The two become instant friends, spending hours in the woods by their houses creating a magical kingdom. Then tragedy strikes, and Jess is left alone. How can he ever go on? Only when Jess is able to come to terms with this tragedy does he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him. I would use this book in a 4-6th grade classroom to teach several things. I would first off use this story to teach students the importance of acceptance. You do not have to have anything in common to be nice to one another. I would also use this story to teach students how valuable it is to have a friend. Jess and Leslie used there unlikely circumstance to become fast friends and get through situations they could not have gotten through alone. Finally, I would use this story to teach students how to deal with the tragedy's that life throws our way. Tragedy is bound to happen and students need to know how to make the best out of horrible situations.

Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

In the story Max is looking to have fun, but his mother is tired of his behavior and sends him to bed without any supper. Unexpectedly a forest grows inside his bedroom and Max is taken away to the land of the wild things. Fortunately the wild things do not eat Max and instead make him their king. In the end Max returns home to his mother and father and finally eats his dinner. I would use this story in my classroom to teach students that an imagination can transport you far away from whatever problems you may be facing. Although students need to know an imagination can help your problems, it is still most important to listen and respect the adults around you even when you do not agree with what they have to say. Tantrums are never a good way to handle a person or situation.

The Ugly Duckling - Jerry Pinkney, Hans Christian Andersen

The Ugly Duckling is mainly about a duck that is left out because of his looks, but ends up being the most beautiful duck of all. I would use this book in a K-2nd grade classroom to teach children about diversity. Through the story the students can learn how important it is to not judge others just because they look different than you. This story would also be good to incorporate why it is so important to not be a bully. After reading the story students will be less likely to judge a book by its cover.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond

When a generous boy shares a cookie with a hungry mouse, it is the beginning of a chain of events that keeps the boy busy all day long, and might keep him busy for days to come. If you give a mouse a cookie, after all, he's bound to ask for a glass of milk, for which he'll certainly need a straw, not to mention a napkin, and a mirror to check for a milk mustache, which will only lead to him noticing that he needs a haircut. This imaginary mouse has the kind of needs a child might have; he needs a nap with a soft pillow, and he needs his drawing hung up on the refrigerator. By the end of a day with such a mouse, a boy-hero might have an idea what it's like to be a Mommy! These books were some of my favorite in class and I still love them just as much today. I would use this book in a K-1st grade classroom most likely in a small group. I think it would be a good book to teach students how cause and effect work with examples they can relate too. Not only will students learn a new reading skill they will also see that kindness that is demonstrated throughout the story.

A Bad Case of Stripes - David Shannon

A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon, is the story of young Camilla Cream, a closeted lover of lima beans and a worrier about others’ opinions of her. On the first day of school, Camilla wakes up to find herself completely covered in rainbow stripes! If the stripes were not bad enough, Camilla’s skin develops everything people suggest she has – someone says ‘checkerboards,’ another says ‘bacteria,’ and she breaks out in checkerboard pattern and bacteria tails. When the Doctor, Specialists, Experts, and many others cannot figure out what’s causing the stripes, a little old woman appears with what just might be the cure. I love how this story focuses so much on the importance of being yourself and being comfortable with who you are. I would use this story in a K-2nd grade classroom to explain to the class how important it is to be yourself and stay true to yourself in a world that is constantly trying to mold you into something else. When kids get a sense of their true identity at a younger age they are more likely to stay true themselves and there beliefs at a younger age. This story shows that just because somebody else has something that seems good that doesn't necessarily mean it will be good for you.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s wonderfully wise Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is the perfect send-off for grads—from nursery school, high school, college, and beyond! From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life’s ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, “Seuss’s message is simple but never sappy: life may be a ‘Great Balancing Act,’ but through it all ‘There’s fun to be done.’” I have been read this book by so many teachers in so many classes over the years and I still love it just as much easy time. Life really is just one big balancing act that takes you to so many different places just as Dr. Seuss states so simply in the book. I would use this book in any grade level I was teaching to remind my students that they do not have to fear change. It is a good thing to embark on a new journey and start a new phase in life because there really is no limit inn the places you can go. I fully believe all students no matter the background need to be reminded that they are smart and they are capable of great things. When teachers believe in there students they create students that believe in themselves. I think this would be a wonderful book to read to your class on the first day of school to calm nerves and remind each student that they are all special and have a future far brighter than they could ever imagine.

The Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister, J. Alison James

The most beautiful fish in the ocean is asked to share one of his shining scales with a little blue fish, and to which he refuses. All the other fish in the sea leave him alone, and he wondered why. He goes to the wise octopus for advice, and she tells him to give away his scales. Rainbow Fish reluctantly does so, except for one. In the end, he is less beautiful then he was before, but he has new friends and is now the happiest fish in the sea. The Rainbow Fish is an excellent book because it asks the question if the consideration of the happiness of all is reasonable at the cost of one’s own happiness. The children may argue that having friends is valuable to them, so they would give up something they cherished. They may also argue that Rainbow Fish shouldn’t have had to share his scales and still be accepted by the other fish, because it seems unfair to be shunned by a community just because you were born with something nice. This book poses the moral that being selfish and unkind will leave you lonely, but it also leaves the door open for discussion on the topic of how much should you give in order to make friends. All these are such good topics for students to think on. Rainbow Fish was my favorite book as a child because not only is the story wonderful it also has beautiful illustrations. I would use this book in a K-2nd grade classroom for a better understanding on the values of sharing and friendship.

Duck for President - Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin

When reading about this book on scholastic the summary they gave was, "When Duck gets tired of working for Farmer Brown, his political ambition eventually leads to his being elected President.

My fellow Americans:

It is our pleasure, our honor, our duty as citizens to present to you Duck for President. Here is a duck who began in a humble pond. Who worked his way to farmer. To governor. And now, perhaps, to the highest office in the land.

Some say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he is a duck.

We say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he will be the next president of the United States of America.

Thank you for your vote". I have never read this book, but I have heard some wonderful things about it even more so recently with the election. I would use this book in a 2nd-3rd grade classroom to teach students about presidents and voting. This would be great to read during the election or even during social studies as well. I also think a mock election would be a great activity to do as a class after reading.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - Dr. Seuss

I love this story to read about in the classroom to remind students of the importance of kindness. I would use this book in the month of December in any K-3rd grade classroom. This book is very entertaining for children and it was also re created as a movie which you could let the class watch when they finish the book. After reading the book and watching the movie not only do students learn more about Christmas they also learn just what a difference kindness and love makes. Just as the Grinches heart grew through acts of kindness the same goes for them. Although in my classroom I would use this book around Christmas it is also commonly used when celebrating Dr. Seuss week.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids - Carol McCloud

This story is a modern take on the very common proverb "treat others as you want to be treated". The story goes on to explain that every time you do something good for somebody else you are filling a bucket. When you do something wrong or are mean to others you are dipping out of a bucket. Since you want others to fill your bucket it is your job to fill the buckets of those around you. I LOVE this book and think it is appropriate in any K-6 classroom. I would read this book on the first day of school with my class, have a create your own bucket building station, and base our classroom rules around it. At the end of the year after the students have had plenty of time to truly understand how the bucket filling vs. bucket dipping system works I would let my class have a bucket filling party where they would create there own book on how to be a bucket filler. This book preaches the importance of kindness which is something every student can benefit from and improve on.