A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights by Kate Hannigan

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 3.33.17 PM


Did you know there was a time when girls were not allowed to speak in front of an audience at school? During the mid 1800’s, Belva Lockwood saw this happening and knew it was wrong. She decided to end this oppression by teaching public speaking courses to girls.

There were other injustices, too, and Belva was not going to stand by and let them happen. When someone told her “no” because she was a woman, she kept persisting until she heard “yes”. When she was not allowed to vote, Belva campaigned and ran for president.

This fascinating story will appeal to all readers as they learn a lesson in speaking up for what’s right. Belva Lockwood’s example in determination inspires readers to persevere when faced with opposition.

Screen Shot 2018-06-18 at 4.28.27 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Create II.A.2 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by adopting a discerning stance toward points of view and opinions expressed in information resources and learning products. 

  • Ask learners to think of a time when they saw something that wasn’t fair. What happened? Were they able to voice their opinion?
  • Introduce the story. Invite learners to raise their hand when they hear something that is unfair. Ask what makes it unfair. Welcome different points of view.
  • Ask, “I wonder if you encounter unfairness at school?” Ask learners to respond by writing unjust scenarios on sticky notes. Collect the notes and read some to the group. Brainstorm ideas to fix problematic situations.
  • Consider grouping students. Give each group one problem to discuss and solve. Students can act out a scene for the class to observe.

Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 2.53.33 PM



Where does creativity come from? Steve Jobs once said it evolves from “connecting things.” The story of Ada Lovelace supports this idea. Energized by a curious imagination as a child, Ada designed fantastic creations. Her mother worried about Ada’s wild notions and sent her to school to study science. Ada thrived at the school. She was especially interested in learning about machines. One machine in particular caught her eye; the loom. Punch cards full of holes told the machine what to do, and this fascinated Ada. She wanted to apply this technology to create something new. One day, she did. She wrote the first computer program.

This is the perfect book to introduce computer programming. The fanciful illustrations work well with the enjoyable narrative to describe the technology. Readers will appreciate this story and remember Ada Lovelace’s contribution to programming.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 2.55.16 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Share V.C.1 Learners engage with the learning community by expressing curiosity about a topic of personal interest or curricular relevance.

  • Explain that code tells a computer what to do. Everything they see on a website or a game was created by code. The placement of the paragraphs, the flash of a video, the size of an image is all made with code.
  • Show learners what code looks like. Find a favorite website and view the websites source code. Learn how to do this by reading How to Read Your Website Source Code and Why It’s Important for SEO.
  • Invite learners to share what they notice about the source code.
  • Watch What Most Schools Don’t Teach to inspire coding. Show learners the code for the video by clicking the share button on the bottom right hand side. Explain that people use that code to embed the video on their websites or blogs.
  • Ask if they would like to give coding a try.
  • Go to Code.org and model how to find courses that are just right for their age group.
  • Assess learning by asking what fascinated them the most about what they learned about coding.

Web Resources:

How to Read Your Website Source Code and Why It’s Important for SEO

Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing (https://www.wired.com/1996/02/jobs-2/)

What Most Schools Don’t Teach (https://youtu.be/nKIu9yen5nc)

Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs by Susan Hughes

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.26.43 PM


When was the last time you paid attention to the activities in your town? What did you notice? What did you appreciate? Jane Jacobs, an author and an activist, was fascinated by the intricacies of city life. As a child, she wondered how cities sustained daily activity. She had questions about man holes, sewer systems and street design. Jacobs loved her neighborhood, and when city planners threatened to tear down her community to build a highway, she protested. She wrote letters and involved neighbors to challenge the plan. She made a difference. The highway was never built.

Jane Jacob’s story will compel readers to take a new interest in their neighborhoods. What do they appreciate about their town? How can they stay informed about proposals? Prepare learners to get involved by trying the lesson below.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 1.28.17 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Share II.C.1 Learners exhibit empathy with and tolerance for diverse ideas by engaging in informed conversation and active debate.

  • Introduce the story by asking learners what it takes to make a difference. Write responses on chart paper.
  • Explain that you are going to read a story about a woman who made a difference in her community. Their job is to notice what she did. Compare her actions with the traits listed on the chart paper.
  • Ask learners what they love about their community. Read a local news article or minutes from the latest town meeting to spark debate. Ask learners what they think about the proposed changes. Do they like the idea? Why or why not? What questions do they have about the proposal?
  • Gather questions for further research and consider inviting guest speakers to answer questions.
  • Prepare learners for a debate by giving them time to research and discuss the topic. Learners will state their position and support their ideas with detailed points. They will ask questions and respond to ideas they hear during the discussion.
  • End the lesson by asking learners if their position changed after the discussion. Reflect on the importance of sharing ideas and being open to hearing opposing points of view.


Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 12.21.56 PM


It’s eerie to think that Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson was published two months before the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. The stories are the same; courageous children taking monumental risks to draw attention to atrocities.

This powerful story, illustrated with remarkable images, will inspire readers to make a difference. The Afterword provides ideas to encourage children to volunteer and learn more about important topics.

Illustrator Frank Morrison is extremely talented at illuminating the feelings of each character in the story. We clearly see worry, pain, fear, satisfaction, courage and pride in the facial expressions of the characters.

The back matter includes images of children being arrested and sprayed by a powerful hose.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 1.00.13 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Share III.C.2 Learners work productively with others to solve problems by involving diverse perspectives in their own inquiry processes.

  • Show this example of a young girl by the name of Molly Steer who is making a difference with her Straw No More campaign. Ask the following questions after watching the video:
    • “What is the problem Molly is fixing?”
    • “How did she discover it was a problem?”
    • “What does she need to solve the problem?”
    • “What are the constraints?”
  • Visit the Youth Service America website to inspire learners.
  • Ask learners to brainstorm problems they see in their school, community, country and world. Allow the class to choose a problem to solve. They can collaborate as a whole class or in small groups to develop solutions and create plans.


March for Our Lives (https://marchforourlives.com/home/)

Straw No More | Molly Steer | TEDxJCUCairns. (https://youtu.be/Rr5Py1r9xjw)

Youth Service America. (https://leadasap.ysa.org/ideas/)

Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 4.57.32 PM


Rodney can’t sit still in class. His curiosity about the natural world draws his focus to the window to see birds, bugs and dogs. The outside world fascinates him. Being in school does not. His classmates laugh at Rodney when he fools around. His teacher can only sigh with resignation. But when Rodney visits a park during a school field trip, he is finally in a classroom that feels right. The realistic illustrations add movement to the story, inviting us to see an intimate side of Rodney with close-up images. Where’s Rodney? is a story we can all connect with because we all know someone who itching to get outside.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 4.54.53 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Create III.B.2 Learners participate in personal, social, and intellectual networks by establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge.

  • Invite learners to imagine what school would be like if classes were held outside. What could they learn from the outdoors?
  • Challenge learners to write a lesson plan for Rodney. The creative constraints are as follows:
    • The lesson will take place outside.
    • There is no Internet.
    • The lesson must contain a learning outcome, a list of materials and a way to assess learning.
  • Divide learners into collaborative groups. Facilitate the conversation by asking learners to consider what is important to learn in school. How can they learn these skills in nature? Encourage all learners to share their ideas.
  • Welcome groups to present their lesson ideas when they finish.

Fun Fact

Traditional schooling was not a good fit for Ansel Adams. His father pulled him out of school and the let the world be his new classroom. He spent most of his time playing the piano and taking pictures of nature.

Pair Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature with Where’s Rodney? Compare and contrast the stories of the two boys.

The Field by Baptiste Paul

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.56.12 PM


What does a pick-up game of soccer look like in your neighborhood? Where do the children play? What sounds do you hear? In The Field, by Baptiste Paul, the reader has a front row seat to watch an exciting game that takes place on a Caribbean island. Extraordinary action shots from different vantage points illustrate the story. You’ll watch the game from the top of a hill and behind large tropical leaves. A double page spread brings you close to the action where the players look like they could skid out of the book. Each illustration compels readers to wonder about the setting. Where do the players live? Why are the children playing around farm animals? Why are some houses on stilts? What materials did they use to make the soccer goal? Readers will also ask questions about the Creole words tucked in throughout the story. A guide at the end of the book offers the translations. Children who love sports and free play of any kind will enjoy this book. Curious learners will appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Saint Lucia, the Creole language, and soccer. Enjoy the book trailer.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.56.24 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think 1.A.1 Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular

  • Ask learners what questions they have about the illustrations and dialogue as you read the story. Record answers on an anchor chart.
  • Model how to find answers to their questions using books, databases, and online resources.
  • Enrich learning by asking students to create a Venn Diagram that illustrates the similarities and differences between a local pick-up game of soccer and a game in Saint Lucia. The circles in the diagram can take the shape of a soccer ball.
  • Watch this unforgettable TMB Panyee FC short film to learn about a remarkable group of boys in Thailand who love soccer. They solve a problem by creating an interesting space to play.
  • Add a third circle to the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast soccer in Thailand with soccer that is close by and in Saint Lucia.


Mentioned Resources

Paul, Baptiste. 2018. The Field. United States: NorthSouth Books Inc.

“The Field” by Baptiste Paul and illustrated by Jackie Alcantara (https://youtu.be/BZsbvWUnM4E)

TMB Panyee FC short film (https://youtu.be/jU4oA3kkAWU)


The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story by Darcy Pattison

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 8.08.35 PM


Do you believe everything you read in newspapers? What if you read a news report about a monster living in the sea? Would you believe the story? In 1937, The Inquirer and Mirror published sea monster sightings in Nantucket. After large webbed footprints appeared in the sand, people were intrigued. Could this monster be real? The surprise ending will leave readers wondering about the validity of news.

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 8.02.50 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Engage/Think VI.A.2 Learners follow ethical and legal guidelines for gathering and using information by understanding the ethical use of information, technology, and media.

As the subtitle indicates, the sea monster story was fake news. The people that read the story were fooled.

Ask learners the following questions:

  • “How do you think the people must have felt when they learned the truth?”
  • “What do you think they did when they realized what happened?”
  • “Why is it important for newspapers to report the truth?”

High School Learners

Have you heard about Gabe Fleisher, a remarkable teen journalist? He writes a nonpartisan newsletter that makes government news easier to understand. Wake Up To Politics provides readers with the latest facts five days a week.

    • Meet Fleisher by listening to an interview with Joshua Johnson on NPR’s 1A Learners will be fascinated hearing about Fleisher’s passion for reporting the truth.
    • Read Fleisher’s newsletter, Wake Up to PoliticsGive learners time to explore and discuss.

Professional Development

Works Cited:

1A (https://the1a.org/shows)

News Literacy: Book Talk With Michelle Luhtala and Jacquelyn Whiting (https://youtu.be/5i15lk9uGq4?t=2m22s)

Wake Up to Politics (https://us3.campaign-archive.com/?u=4946817b18454973fb1cd7ecc&id=ea11899aa8)

Watch This Space: Meet Teen Journalist Gabe Fleisher (https://the1a.org/shows/2018-05-03/watch-this-space-meet-teen-journalist-gabe-fleisher)

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood

Post by Becky Granatini


From the author of the incredible book Ada’s Violin, Susan Hood invites us into the world of female innovators and activists. This book highlights, in poetic verse, the stories of fourteen young women that made a huge difference in the lives of women. Shaking Things Up delivers jumping off points to begin to understand the lives and important work of young innovators. What a great way to introduce students to these innovators and to offer a creative way to share understandings – through poetry!

Response to Literature
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think: l.A.1. Learners display curiosity and
initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic.

  • Read a poem aloud to learners.  Highlight the information both in the text as well as the illustration.
  • Ask learners to generate a question that connects to the shared poem, but will extend their understanding of the topic/person. Have them write it on a sticky note.
  • Collect question sticky notes and group according to topic.
  • Create student teams to begin an investigation about the topic.

Culminating Activity Idea:  Have students add to the existing poem or write another one in response to the shared poem to highlight their new learning. They could illustrate and find an authentic audience to share this work with.

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World; Susan Hood, illus. by various artists. Harper, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-269945-9

Out of the Box by Jemma Westing

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 10.34.39 AM


If you are looking for an easy way to get a makerspace up and running, start with this inspirational book. With a few supplies, children can make games, puppets, castles and hideaways. The introduction sets the foundation for building with cardboard. Clear instructions and crisp images prepare readers before they begin constructing. “Difficulty Level” thermometers also help children choose a suitable project. Encouraging notes compel makers to work through problems and try different ideas.

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 10.42.38 AM
Response to Literature
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Create V.B.1. Learners construct new knowledge by problem solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection.

  • Engage learners by watching Caine’s Arcade, an inspiring story about a remarkable boy.  Ask students to share their experiences with cardboard creations.
  • Introduce Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects For Makers by Jemma Westing. Ask learners what project intrigued them the most.
  • Create 2-4 stations that feature projects in the book. Each station will have directions for one project along with necessary materials.
  • Encourage children to make something on their own if they would like. They can use the book to inspire ideas and then make an innovative creation.
  • Invite parents, grandparents and community members to join the fun and offer support.
  • Ask learners to reflect on the experience and share helpful tips for the next group of makers.
  • Enrich the experience by joining the Global Cardboard Challenge.

Mentioned Resources:

Caines Arcade (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U)

Global Cardboard Challenge (https://cardboardchallenge.com/)

Image Citation: Westin, Jemma. “Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects For Makers.” NetGalley, DK, 15 April 2018, www.netgalley.com/.

Dig In! 12 Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps by Kari Cornell

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 8.26.51 PM


How cool would it be to have a farm-to-table experience in your library? All you need are kitchen scraps, a few supplies, the sun and recipes. The projects in Dig In! 12 Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps by Kari Cornell are inspiring. Gorgeous photographs and easy-to-implement plans will compel students to grow and cook food. Young chefs can join the fun by following the recipes that complement each project. Resources at the end of the book will support learners who want to garden outside.

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 7.23.43 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3. Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.

  • Follow the directions to grow lettuce. When it’s ready to harvest, ask parents to donate ingredients for the “Autumn Salad” recipe. Work together to make the salad and set a long table for lunch. Add other special treats to make it a memorable meal.
  • Enrich the experience further by asking learners to design a garden for their school. Ask learners what questions they have about designing a garden. Some may include:
    • “What should we think about when designing and building a garden?”
    • “What does a garden need to grow?”
    • “What are the best vegetables to grow in our area?”
    • “What materials do we need?”
    • “What size should it be?”
    • “Who will take care of it?”
    • “How will it get watered?”
    • “How do we keep harmful bugs away?”
    • “Who do we need to ask for permission to build a garden?”
  • Invite a Master Gardener in to help answer questions. Find ideas in books like It’s Our Garden: From Seed to Harvest in a School Garden by George Ancona.
  • Provide paper, pencils, crayons and markers to design the school gardens. Invite learners to share their designs with the class.
  • Save designs and search for grants to make their plans come to life!

Check out the fun contest below to challenge learners to make gardens out of milk cartons:

Carton 2 Garden: Helping Grow School Garden Programs

Image Citation: Cornell, Kari. “Dig In! 12 Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps.” NetGalley, Lerner Publishing Group, 8 April 2018, www.netgalley.com/.

The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 6.59.28 PM


If you want to grab the attention of a child, mention a Harry Potter reference and watch their eyes light up. That’s what author Charlotte Milner does in The Bee Book when she states that a “dumbledore” is a bumblebee. This fun fact presented with infographic flair will compel children to keep reading. Every page delivers interesting facts with engaging illustrations. Teachers will immediately recognize the value of using The Bee Book as a mentor text. Noting Milner’s craft for delivering information will inspire young nonfiction writers. Budding scientists will appreciate learning the significance of bees. Helpful solutions at the end of the book will inspire them to make a difference.

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 7.09.07 PM

Response to Literature

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Create: I.B.3. Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning.

  • While reading the story, ask learners to pay close attention to how the author, Charlotte Milner, presents information. What do they notice?
  • Point to some of the illustrations in the book to help define the word “infographic”. Ask learners what they like about the way the information is presented in The Bee Book.  What was their favorite infographic?
  • Explain that they will create their own infographic on a topic they know all about.  They will use some of the ideas in the book for inspiration.  Younger learners can use poster paper, crayons and markers to present their information. Learners in grades three and higher can try using Piktochart; an AASL Best Website for Teaching and Learning,
  • Display infographics in the library.

Wondering about the waggle dance? Watch this video by the Smithsonian Channel.

Image Citation: Milner, Charlotte. “The Bee Book.” NetGalley, DK Children, 6 Feb. 2018, www.netgalley.com/.

%d bloggers like this: