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As a teacher of early learners, K-2 in particular, I was always on the lookout for useful books for the classroom. I have found one that is great for students to read at home and at school. I am not a fan of the “guided reading” programs currently pushed in many school districts. A large number of the book selections are frankly boring. Reading should be fun! Pedro, First Grade Hero is a book young readers will enjoy. Its anticipated release date by Capstone Press is September 1, 2016, and I highly recommend it! I personally would use it in reading groups and then send it home for kids to enjoy there as well.
Pedro, First Grade Hero
by Fran Manuskin
Pedro, First Grade Hero, is a delightful “chapter book” for early readers. Children usually want to read chapter books like their teacher models for them. Unfortunately most chapter books are just too difficult for them to read independently. Pedro, First Grade Hero, however, comes to the rescue for the beginning reader. It is actually a collection of four stories, all about Pedro. The readability level, length of the stories, and interest level is perfect for first graders as is the focus of each story.
Pedro is a very likable little boy. In the first story, “Pedro Goes Buggy,” Pedro has to find a bug to write about in school. Discussions about the best bug ensue in the classroom and at home. Even his little brother Paco gets involved in the fun. The story has a nice resolution and ends on a humorous note. For the teacher who likes to integrate learning strands, language arts, math and science provide easy tie-ins.
“Pedro’s Big Goal” draws in boys and girls who love soccer. This chapter has “bigger is not always better” as well as “keep trying” as its themes. Children will enjoy the ending and teachers can help them appreciate the play on words.
Most people love a good mystery as do Pedro and his friends who form a mystery club in the third story, trying to find a missing locket and cell phone. Good vocabulary words include sparkle, locket, and chirping.
The final story, “Pedro for President,” teaches Pedro and his friend Katie Woo what is involved in being class president. As they ponder what they have to offer the class, little brother Paco “helps” with the election poster and Pedro creatively turns that effort into a positive. Pedro, who always encourages his classmates and promotes fairness in the election, is the obvious favorite for president.
The illustrations by Tammie Lyon are colorful, appealing, and depict well the characters’ emotions and reactions. Teachers interested in promoting multi-cultural cohesiveness in their classrooms will appreciate the inclusion of children of various backgrounds. At the end of this book are four pages of jokes in the riddle format that will delight first graders.
I would like to thank netgalley.com and the publisher, Capstone Press, for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Dear Former Students,
What do I hope you remember about me?
Reading, of course! Together we fell in love with the books we read. If you were in my recent classes, you will remember the magical repetitions of Pete the Cat books. For a more sophisticated enchantment, we devoured several books in the Magic Tree House series, sneaking social studies and science into our day. Who could forget the adventures of Jamie and Tom at Dinosaur Cove or Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz? Some students may be reminiscing about the aliens in The Sand Witch and the mystery and history found in Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library. Bunnicula, a great children’s mystery, was a favorite with some classes.
As a young teacher, I had experts tell me that first graders are not ready to sit and listen to chapter books. Not true! Storytellers have been recounting their tales without benefit of visuals since before the written word. Perhaps you were in the class that listened at story time to several picture books, at least one chapter in a longer book, and then BEGGED for more. I usually introduced classes to chapter books with Judy Blume’s short chapter book Freckle Juice followed by Chocolate Touch and Chocolate Fever.
We had many special literacy activities related to stories we read. For example, we discussed the meaning of Bill Martin Jr.’s Knots on a Counting Rope and made our own counting rope. In the 1st/2nd grade multiage class, we read the original version of 101 Dalmatians learning the meaning and use of many British words and enjoying playing with the unfamiliar words. We made a huge mural containing 101 Dalmatians just in time for the 100th day of school. Drama, dancing, art, music, and writing were all pulled into the process of learning to read and learning through reading. Activities did not begin and end because of the clock on the wall or the threat of an administrator’s possible walk-through. We had reading buddies once a week from the upper grades, working on social skills as well as reading skills and giving you the opportunity to read your favorite books as many times as you liked and have a positive emotional connection to reading. Our buddies benefited in similar ways with the addition of an opportunity to practice leadership and demonstrate maturity.
You amazed your parents with your beautiful poetry recitations—poems that move the soul like “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and poems that giggle the spirit like “The Purple Cow.” You recited the poems by yourself before the whole class exploring the sounds of language and gaining self-confidence. You learned to appreciate language by playing with rhymes, patterns, meter, and figures of speech. Often whole families memorized the poems, and some can still recite their favorites. Reader’s Theatre and musical Reader’s Theatre provided fun opportunities to practice reading with fluency and expression.
My philosophy was “I teach reading all day long.” It worked. I had parents tell me that their child loved reading because of me. I hope you were one of them.
Move over Holmes and Watson! Move over Poirot and Hastings! Another Detective duo is in town: Detective Gordon, the aging police chief toad, and his sidekick Buffy, a very young, energetic mouse. Use Ulf Nilsson’s book, Detective Gordon, The First Case, with readers who are ready for chapter books or to introduce mysteries as a read aloud. The story is a kinder, gentler type of mystery with easily understood messages. It also contains some word fun that students will enjoy exploring and repeating. For those who love drama, the characters are unique and lend themselves to creative expression. The illustrations are sweet, appealing, and as soft as the snow covered landscape of the book’s origins in Sweden.
Goodreads is a website that has created a huge community of readers, and their goal is to hook up readers with books they will love. In browsing today, I came across their Jobs page. I’m not looking to come out of retirement, but I was interested in their values:
- Create Fun
- Be Humble
- Think Big
- Customer Obsession
- Be Passionate
- Help Each Other
- Always Be Learning, Always Be Teaching.
Goodreads says they want people that are creative and care about the customer. Reread their list of values. Are any of those items on a standardized test? Are any of those values part of the Common Core State Standards? Would they be integral to a private school education where neither the CCSS nor standardized testing is required? Then WHY are we not including them in a public school education? All of our kids deserve a first class education.
If you want to see the source, go to:
The period known as the Holocaust is a frequent topic of books for both adults and young adults. The book Dobryd is different in that it does not focus on characters who are arrested or imprisoned. In fact most of the story occurs in the years following the war. Told in the first person, this story details the struggles of a five year old girl as she emerges from over two years of hiding in a space too small for a standing adult. Most of her family is dead, but she still has her mother and an aunt. The reader is soon absorbed by their relationships as they begin to integrate into a Poland that is very different from the one they hid from. Their rescuer is Yuri, a Russian soldier who plays a pivotal role in helping young Ann relate to her new world and provides stability for her. Dobryd shows us the best and the worst of people and how they have a long lasting impact on Ann and her family.
Dobryd is classified as an autobiographical novel as the author was very young when the story begins and much is retold from the memories of others. It reads like fiction, but has the authenticity of history. Dobryd would be an excellent addition to a unit on the Holocaust or World War II. It invites comparisons to books such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank that are typically enjoyed by students in learning about this period. Dobryd offers opportunities to feel with Ann the discrimination she experienced based on religion and her family’s former social standing. We get to learn of her rapidly disappearing Polish heritage and of the geographical struggles Poland underwent as a nation being divided by its neighbors as one of the spoils of war.