Daring Pirate Women

Daring Pirate Women

Sharp, A. (2002). Daring Pirate Women. Minneapolis, MN: Learner Publishing Group.

Category: Nonfiction-Biography

Synopsis of Book: Blackbeard and Long John Silver weren’t the only feared pirate who sailed a ship with a skull and crossed bones flag.  Throughout these tales, many pirates are not as well known but just as notorious for being fierce!  Women were some of the most successful, bloodthirsty pirates to have sailed the seas.  This books tells the story of several of these dangerous women and their legendary stories about the crimes that they committed to make them so feared.

Use in Classroom: Pirates are shown in television shows, movies, and books but sometimes what they do or what they look like can be some-what misleading.  To introduce the lesson, I would read aloud a book discussing where the pirates’ ships were going and coming from (to work on geography), what were the ships carrying, why did the pirates both other ships, and what did some of their flags look like?  By discussing what life was like for pirates and analyze why they dressed the way that they did.  I would encourage the students to research at least one pirate of their choice (other than Blackbeard) and find general information about their pirate.  This book would be used as a resource to help the students find information about a specific pirate.  I would then have the students design their own pirate costume on paper, incorporating the things they’ve learned about pirates (specifically the ones they researched) and the things they kept on board their ships.  They can also draw background scenes, based on the scenes of the Caribbean or North Atlantic and the pirate ships they’ve seen.  Then have students write sentences describing their costumes, scenery, using the information that they gathered.


Guinness World Records 2012

Guinness World Records 2012

Glenday, C. (2012). Guinness World Records 2012. Canada: Jim Pattison Group.

Category: Nonfiction

Synopsis of Book: This book contains all of the world records known.  There are a lot of categories represented in this book such as structures, things/events in nature, and what people have done to reach a world record.  This book also has very vivid photographs of certain records that help interpret the text.

Use in Classroom: Students love books that present factual information this was and so having this book in the classroom library would allow the students to read about current events that are occurring in our world, kind of like their newspaper.  Another use of this book would be for a research project on certain subjects.  Sometimes textbooks, encyclopedias, and dictionaries can be confusing for students to use  so having this book would enable them to find concise information about specific topics.



Lord, C. (2006). Rules. New York: Scholastic Press.

Category: Disability/Award Winning Book (Newberry Honor Award and Schneider Family Book Award)

Synopsis of Book: The only thing Catherine wants is a normal life but that is almost impossible with David, her brother with autism.  Catherine has taken the responsibility of looking out for David and coming up with social rules for him to follow.  She does this to limit David embarrassing her in front of Kristi, the new girl next door, who could potentially be a friend.  Catherine spends the summer finding out in unexpected ways about the true meaning of being “normal.”

Use in Classroom: It is important in an elementary classroom setting that every student is respectful to others who are different from them.  As a future teacher, I will not tolerate discrimination in my classroom and I think that the values the children have will develop and they will have those same values when they are older.  This book would be a great to read out loud to my class and have a discussion of what is considered “normal” in our society and why, realistically, we are a little not-normal ourselves.

One of the themes of this book is disability and how the individual with the disability as well as their friends and family cope with it.  Cynthia Lord uses a lot of imagery to help the reader imagine how things look, feel, smell, sound, and even taste.  In Chapter 2 of Rules there are a lot of imagery components that you could have the students analyze and place in a graphic organizer and then have a class discussion on what they found.  The graphic organizer would have three columns with the following titles:

  • Imagery Found In-where you would place the object being described along with the page number
  • Words that Create Imagery- what words the author uses to describe the object
  • The Sense or Senses That the Imagery Appeals to- smell, taste, touch, sound, or look



Giff, P. R. (2010). Storyteller. New York: Random House, Inc.

Category: Historical Fiction

Synopsis of Book: Elizabeth is a young girl whose father has to go out of town and so she is forced to stay with her aunt.  She is not thrilled about “learning about her Mom’s family” until she finds a drawing of her ancestor, who they called Zee, who remarkably, looks a lot like Elizabeth.  The lives of these two girls are intertwined as Elizabeth’s present-day story alternates with Zee’s.  Her story takes place during the American Revolution and shows how it tore her family apart.  Elizabeth becomes increasingly interested in Zee and begins to learn all about the journey she took in becoming free from British rule.

Use in Classroom: Sometimes textbooks can be confusing for elementary students to use because of the advance vocabulary and lack of experience they have using a textbook.  By using picture books to first introduce a topic will help the students gain background knowledge on that specific topic so that they become more familiar with it.  To me, the problem with nonfiction books is that the students do not have an emotional tie with the text, they do not know how the people were feeling at that time in history.  I feel that this book would help the students create that emotional link between them and the people who were alive during the American Revolution.  By having this emotional link, they will then become more interested in the subject, want to learn more about it, and remember the information better.

This book can also be used to show character development and how they can change as the book progresses.  At the beginning of the book, Elizabeth has little self confidence, no friends, and has no interest in getting to know her aunt.  As Zee’s story becomes known to her all of these things change.  It will be interesting to see whether the students recognize this change in Elizabeth as well as their opinions as to why she changed.

Giant Book of Questions and Answers

Giant Book of Questions and Answers

Farndon, J., James, I., Johnson, J., Macdonald, F., Steele, P., Royston, A., Walters, M. (1999). Giant Book of Questions and Answers. China: Barnes & Noble Inc.

Category: Nonfiction

Synopsis of Book: Ever have a question about how things in nature happened or where did the Vikings come from?  This books if filled with more than 1,000 questions and answers about various topics that children (and adults) may have.  There are also beautiful illustrations through out the book that help the reader understand the topic.

Use in Classroom: To me this book is essential to have in an elementary school classroom library because it is filled with questions that young children may have and they are answered in a way that they are able to understand.  It allows children to become more independent in finding the answers to their own questions and help foster new ones.  This book has an index at the end of the book and a table of contents of the topics covered in the entire book as well as one at the beginning of each topic, with more specifics as to what is being covered.  Also at the back of the book is a short quiz on each ‘chapter’ of the book with the answers so if children wanted to find out more about a certain subject, they can look it up.  Because of the elements in the book, it is easy to teach children how to use a nonfiction book to look up information and is a good transition to using a textbook.

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia

Paterson, K. (1977). Bridge to Terabithia. New York, NC: HarperCollins Publishers.

Category: Realistic Fiction/Award Winning Book (Newbery Medal)

Synopsis of Book: Jess Aaron is just a regular grade boy whose only goal in life is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade.  All of his practicing over summer has finally led up to the first day of school where he is waiting anxiously for recess.  Everything changes when the new girl (Leslie) crosses over to the boys’ side of the playground and beats everyone in the race, including Jess.  Although their friendship did not start out very promising, it turned to be the best kind of friendship a child could ask for: a friendship with imagination.  Together, Jess and Leslie create a magical kingdom in the woods near their houses called Terabithia where they rule as kind and queen.  An unexpected accident occurs and sends Jess into deep despair.  He will then have to use his courage that Leslie has given him to make it through this tragedy, proving how strong the ties of friendship are.

Use in Classroom: This book has such a deep connection with friendship as Jess Aaron and Leslie Burke become friends.  In my future classroom, I want each student to have at least one special friend that they can rely on and by using this book, I can show students to understand and explore the value of friendship.  Students will make predictions about the book and its main characters.  They will also complete an in-depth analysis at Jess and Leslie’s friendship and relate the characters’ experiences to their own as they define friendship and identify ways to make and keep friends.  I feel that this lesson is very important in the upper elementary grades because the students are moving to the age where their friends become a very important aspect of their lives and who they surround themselves with will effect the decisions they may make.



Clements, A. (1996). Frindle. Boston, MA: Harcourt.

Category: Realistic Fiction/Award Winning Book (The Christopher Award)

Synopsis of Book: Nick Allen always has a creative way of getting things done.  When has to give a report on the dictionary, his teacher points out that the meaning of words are made by the individual.  This inspires Nick to do his most creative act yet, inventing the word “frindle,” which has replaced the word “pen.”  This innocent word use causes a large uproar in the school, and Nick has created a word war between him and his fifth grade language arts teacher.  Everyone int he school begins using “frindle” and Nick then realizes that the entire town even the country is using “frindle,” which means that it no longer belongs to him anymore.

Use in Classroom: This book was awarded The Christopher Award because it encourages creativity.  As children grow up, their creativity seems to decrease and as a teacher I want to encourage creativity in my classroom.  This can be difficult because older students tend to strive to be the best which may or may not always be the most creative.  To encourage creativity I will have a “Creative Wall” in my classroom where I will take pictures or post student’s work that was origional and unique.  The assignments on the wall will not be critiqued on spelling or grammer, but simply on creativity.  This will help decrease the anxiety  that students may have when it comes to certain subjects and increase their self confidence in those subjects that are difficult for them.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries