Miss Gothard's Book Blog

Who is Sam Westing?

The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

The book begins with sixteen people gathering for the reading of millionaire Sam Westing's will. His will is structured like a puzzle and the sixteen people must find a solution in order to win the fortune. The Westing Game is different than other mysteries because the investigators are the suspects of Westing's "murder". While reading the book, the students will have a detective notebook and must use character analysis, inferencing, and questioning to solve the mystery. This activity will keep the students engaged instead of traditional comprehension questions. 


Reading Level: Lexile 750L


Grades: 5-7th 

I Love My White Shoes

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes - Eric Litwin, James Dean

In this book, Pete steps in large piles of numerous things that turn his white shoes different colors. Pete does not get upset; he just continue walking and loving the new color of his shoes. My student will have a print out of a cat wearing shoes and they will color the shoes the color of their shoes. I will attach a picture of them to the tail of each cat and will hang the activity on the class bulletin board. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD460L


Grade Level: K-2

Recreating Animals

Grandfather Tang's Story - Ann Tompert, Robert Andrew Parker

This story is about two fairy foxes told using tangrams. It is an endearing game between a grandfather and his granddaughter which reveals a story of magic, clever animals, and true friendship. I will read this story three times before providing them with tangrams. While reading it the 4th time, I will stop after each animal so the students can creating the animals. The lesson will consist of me ask questions about the shapes and which shapes make a new shapes. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD660L


Grades: 1-4th

Born To Be A Graceful Swan

The Ugly Duckling - Jerry Pinkney, Hans Christian Andersen

An awkward duckling does not fit in with his brothers and sisters. This little bird is made fun of and has to struggle through life without a great support system. However, the ugly duckling continues to push forward from the bullying of his fellow ducklings, the hunters, and cruel seasons. He survives and becomes a grateful swan. Students can create a story board to show the transformation of an ugly duckling to a graceful swan. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD820L


Grades: PreK-5th

Word Sounds

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? - Dr. Seuss

This book by Dr. Seuss presents students with different sounds of real world objects and animals. This book is an easy read for students. Students will experience rhymes and word sounds, or onomatopoeia. An interesting activity to do with this text is having students guess an object or animal from a particular sound. I will have a paper bag with multiple items it in and I will provide a sound for the item. The students will try to guess the item in the paper bag. 


Reading Level: Lexile NP (non-prose)


Grades: PreK-3rd

She Swallowed A What?

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - Simms Taback

This book (and song) is about a woman who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even more. The activity I would use with this book would be in a literacy center. I would have an old woman with Velcro on her abdomen and Velcro attached to different animals. The students must place the animals in order of when the woman swallowed them. The students will write down their sequence on the activity sheet and submit it, so I can check for understanding. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD320L


Grades: PreK-2nd

Easy as Enemy Pie

Enemy Pie - Derek Munson, Tara Calahan King

A boy decided to make an enemy pie with the new boy in town. In order to make enemy pie, you must "pretend" to be friends. After pretending to be friends, the two boys became true friends. This book teaches students about acceptance and that bullying is not acceptable behavior. The activity I would be the opposite of an enemy pie. My students will create a friendship pie. The students will choose what qualities make a good friend and how much of that quality does the friend need. I can also integrate measurement conversions into the lesson. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD550L


Grades: PreK-2nd

Fun On A Rope Swing

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia showcases children's creative sides. Two friends create a magical kingdom in their imagination and the only way to get there is by using a rope swing. The main female character, Leslie, dies in accident which causes Jess to reflect back on his memories of Terabithia and Leslie. This book introduces the themes strength and courage in the wake of a tragedy. While reading the book, I would want my students to think creatively and design a magical kingdom in their minds. After reading, the students will write about their kingdom and draw an picture of it. This activity provides students with a creative outlet. 


Reading Level: Lexile 810L


Grades: 3-7th

Because of Winn- DIxie

Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

This book provides students the opportunity to see a character building confidence throughout the story. Winn-Dixie changes Opal's life by giving her the confidence to be herself. An writing activity that students could do is write about a mistake you made or a struggled you experienced on a bottle shaped paper. This writing activity will hang on a paper cut out of a tree similar to the ghost tree in the book.


Reading Level: Lexile 670L


Grades: 3-6th

Are We There Yet!?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis

In this book, the Watsons head to Birmingham (1963) to visit Grandma Sands. Their visit happens during the Civil Rights Movement. The book shows how the racism and the violence in the South at this time changed many families forever. The narrator, Kenny, witnessed a church bombing and became depressed as a result, believing only magic can heal him. Depending on grade level, I would use selected passages (lower grades) or the entire book (upper grades). Students can write a letter explaining why the Civil Rights Movement is important to the United States. Math can also be integrated with this book. Students will be assigned a certain amount of money and must plan a trip to Birmingham. 


Reading Level: Lexile 920L


Grades: 5-8th

Will You Help Someone in Need?

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

In Lois Lowry's book, Number the Stars, the main character helps protect her best friend by pretending she a part of the family. The setting of the book is during World War II and the Holocaust. I would use the book ,in conjunction with The Diary of Anne Frank, to provide insight into the life of hiding and the fight to live. Teachers could have their students create culture quilts to show the many aspects of their cultures. A piece of paper is folding into sixths and the students will draw or write the aspects of their culture. This activity shows students that everyone has one thing in common. 


Reading Level: Lexile 670L


Grades: 3-6th 

A Mouse is the President

Woodrow the White House Mouse - Peter Barnes, Cheryl Shaw Barnes

Woodrow, the White House Mouse shows students what is like to be the President of the United States. This story also shows students where the president lives and the president's many jobs. This is a great book to read before taking a field trip to American Village. I would use this book to help with comparing fiction and nonfiction texts; I would use a text that pertains to the White House.


Reading Level: Lexile NP (non-prose)


Grades: PreK-3

Brothers in Hope

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan - Mary Williams, R. Gregory Christie

This story is about a boy named Garang who must leave Sudan after his village is attacked during a civil war. Garang and thousands of other boys find safety in a Kenyan refugee camp. Garang tells his story to a refugee worker who shares it with people in other countries. Brothers in Hope:The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan teaches students that everyone experiences challenges and they must continue to fight. My students would write a letter to one of the Lost Boys explaining what they admire about him and how his situation made them feel.


Reading Level: Lexile 670L


Grades: 2-4

Can't Do It Yet.

Leo the Late Bloomer - Robert Kraus, José Aruego

In Leo the Late Bloomer, Leo is sad because he can't read, write, or eat neatly like his friends. His parents notice something is wrong with Leo, but Leo is just a late bloomer.With love and encouragement from his parents, Leo is able to achieve what his friends are able to do. This story shows students that if you work hard, you can achieve anything like Leo. I would share this story at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Students will write about what they want to accomplish and how it will be accomplished through the year. At each point I share the story, students will write how their goal is progressing and if they see a change in themselves. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD390L


Grades: PreK-3

I'll Give You the Scales Off My Back.

The Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister, J. Alison James

The Rainbow Fish grabs students' attention before reading the book. The cover and the pages within provide color and texture to keep students interested in the book. The Rainbow Fish is a tale about a fish who has so much pride in his scales that he loses friends when he refuses to share them. An activity that goes along with this book is for students to write a sentence about a good friend is and color a rainbow fish. This activity will hang in the hallway creating a large rainbow fish. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD610L, PreK-3

A Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar introduces readers to a caterpillar as it curbs its hunger. The caterpillar then becomes a beautiful butterfly who is not so hungry. This book allows teachers to showcase days of the week and counting to students. I would use this book to help my students learn sequencing along with counting and addition. My students will put the events in order and they will tell how much food the caterpillar ate during the week. 


Reading Level: Lexile AD460L


Grades PreK-2