Teaching children about refugees, immigrants and slaves through picture books

Children around the world

How do we explain the unimaginable? Where are the words to describe how some children are torn from their homes, run in fear from all they know, looking for a place to live where they will feel safe?

Children’s literature does not fail us here. Recent publications include stories of slaves, immigrants and refugees, spoken in honest words. These books are heart-rending, but true tales, revelations of strife and hopeful ideals. When children ask questions about the protests they are hearing about on the news surrounding immigration issues these books lead to a path to understanding, and sometimes to more questions. Read More »


A middle schooler’s top five vacation reads

Middle Schooler's Book List

If you’re a middle school student like me, you might spend most of your holiday vacation week playing sports or video games. But just because it’s vacation doesn’t mean you can’t spend time on reading too. These five titles are a combination of both older and newer books and offer something for everyone. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Here are my Top 5 suggestions for books for middle schoolers to read over the vacation:

  1. “Bud Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis In this book, a ten-year-old boy embarks on a journey to find his father in the 1930s in the south.  It serves as an inspiration to middle school students because Bud never gives up.
  2. Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson Jess Aarons is a fifth grader who wants more than anything, to be the fastest runner in his grade. As a fifth grader on my middle school track team, I really connected to this story. The main theme in this book, however, is friendship, something extremely important to all of us middle schoolers.
  3. The Big Nate series by Lincoln Pierce Nate is an eleven-year-old boy who is “not quite the honor roll” student. He always ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, a perfect combination for both laughs and detention.
  4. Among the Hidden” by Margaret Haddix This book takes place in a future in which there is a population control policy. Luke is a forbidden third child who fights for his right to exist. I’m curious about what like might be like in the future, so I found this book very interesting.
  5. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney You may already be familiar with this series, but they are always great to read over and over. Greg Heffley is a boy who seems only able to do wrong. Fortunately, he often finds a way to get out of trouble that makes the reader laugh out loud.

Joey Manning is a fifth grader at Raynham Middle School.


Favorite books about snowmen

Books about snowmen

Winter weather is finally upon us, and that means building snow forts, snowballs and snowmen! It is also a wonderful opportunity to tie in the kinesthetic family fun of outdoor winter play with literacy. Here are my family’s top three favorite books about snowmen:

  1. Wondering what you need to build a snowman? In All You Need for A Snowman, author Alice Shertle uses counting, rhyming and a wild imagination to have her characters create a very unique snowman. This book will have your children using their prediction skills to guess what the youngsters in the story will add next.
  2. Snowmen at Night is one of a series of books about snowmen by author and illustrator team Caralyn and Mark Buehner. Ever wonder what snowmen do at night? Why it’s their absolute favorite time! When the world is dark and children are sleeping, it’s party time for snowmen everywhere. This book is a whimsical tale that imagines lavish snow parties that happen each night. So in the morning, there may something about your snowman that is just a little bit different, and now you’ll know why.
  3. Published in 1978, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is truly a classic. Like many books about snowmen, the main character in this story also comes to life. Yet this charming book has no words at all. It is a perfect book for non-readers to “read” to their family, because they can make up the words as they turn from one page to the next. The brilliant illustrations will endear this snowman to your children’s hearts forever.

So after you stomp all of the snow off your boots and hang your mittens up to dry, make a couple of cups of steaming hot chocolate with marshmallows and pull out some winter-themed children’s literature to extend the learning, the fun and the memories.