Making Curriculum Pop

Just catching these reviews - sound like interesting reads!

Check it out: Alabama Moon by Watt Key

Recommended by: Rachelle Gura, Library Media Specialist, Miller Middle School, Kingston Teachers Federation

Suitable for: middle-level students

Why I chose it: Middle-level students are big fans of funny books and also love adventures and survival stories.

Moon is 10 years old. He's lived all his life in the Alabama woods with his father. They have had virtually no contact with the outside world, as Moon's father is distrustful of the government.

But when Moon's father dies, Moon is left on his own. He has great survival skills, but he gets lonely and that results in him getting into a lot of trouble. In the end, he learns that he needs other people.

How teachers can use this book: Themes include friendship, family, death, loneliness and survival. It will get students reading and wanting to discuss what they read.

Teachers can pair it with Hatchet (Gary Paulsen) and discuss survival themes, or with Hidden Talents (David Lubar) and compare friendship and boarding school themes.

What I like best: Moon learns how a "family" can be formed in many different ways, and about trust vs. self-reliance.

He learns there are advantages to finding others to trust and help him, even though he often relies upon his own survival skills. This book is also very funny!

Check It Out features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians.


Check it out: Paper Towns by John Green
New York Teacher - September 11, 2009

Recommended by: Sari Grandstaff, Saugerties Senior High School, Saugerties Teachers Association

Suitable for: Grade 12

Why I chose it: Green's characters are complex and quirky. He immediately draws the reader into the lives of Q and Margo Roth Speigelman by flashing back to an unusual incident they witnessed together in early childhood. As in Green's An Abundance of Katherines, this book successfully utilizes the plot device of a road trip. Students will recognize some of the New York state towns that are mentioned.

How teachers can use this book: How well can you ever really know someone? When the girl next door goes missing, three high school seniors set out to discover the answer. The story addresses issues of alienation and the illusion that popular students always have a perfect life. This would be an excellent classroom read or free choice selection for English classes. Students enjoy the author's humorous video on the publisher's Web site.

Link to it through; click on "author programs" on the Paper Towns Web page.

What I like best: The concept of a paper town is an intriguing metaphor for adolescence — a time when students are questioning their place in the social sphere of high school.

Are any of us really the person inside that our classmates think we are?

Check It Out features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians.


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