Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Reading List for Grades 2 to 4

I left out the series books (although they are great for getting kids reading) and I left out the really familiar ones. Most of these books are read-alouds for grade 2 level students and silent reading books for grade 4 level students. I hope you enjoy!

The Egyptian Polar Bear
By J. Adinolfi

In a story based on the discovery of ancient Egyptian architectural plans for a tomb for a polar bear, Nanook, an arctic polar bear, is trapped on an iceberg floating south and disembarks in Egypt, where he becomes the playmate of the boy-king Rahotep.
The Paper Crane
By Molly Bang
A mysterious man enters a restaurant and pays for his dinner with a paper crane that magically comes alive and dances.
Flat Stanley
By J Brown
Life in the Lambchop family is sedate and serene until a bulletin board falls on young Stanley Lambchop and he becomes depth-disadvantaged! But does it get him down? No! Though he's only half-an-inch thick, Stanley manages to lead a very full life. Originally published in 1964, Jeff Brown's Flat Stanley has become a modern classic.

The Boy Who Wanted a Dog
by Janet Thayer

This delightful story first came to my attention while grading EQAO. Students were asked to write about a book that interested them. So many students named this book that I had to read it for myself. This is the story of a dog who wishes for a boy and his wish comes true!

Owen and Mzee:The true story of a remarkable friendship
by Isabella Hatkoff

An orphaned hippo and a 130-year-old tortoise share a special bond

Lulu and the Brontosaurus
by Judith Viorst
Lulu's parents refuse to give in when she demands a brontosaurus for her birthday and so she sets out to find her own, but while the brontosaurus she finally meets approves of pets, he does not intend to be Lulu's.

Never smile at a monkey : and 17 other important things to remember
by Steve Jenkins
Discover how dangerous an animal can be when it feels threatened or trapped.

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery

In this humorous animal fantasy book, the Monroe family finds a bunny in a movie theatre and names the animal Bunnicula. Chester the cat suspects Bunnicula is a vampire rabbit. Children in elementary school will enjoy reading this funny mystery story.

The Enormous Egg
By Oliver Butterworth

Written in the 1950s, this book about a farm boy who finds a dinosaur egg in with the chickens, this book is a bird's eye view into citizenship and justice for animals.

A Letter to Amy
by Ezra Jack Keats

In this classic book about friendship, Peter has a falling-out with his friend Amy. Peter fears the worst - that Amy will not come to his birthday party.

by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna is a baby fruit bat happily flying along with her mother when an owl attacks. The poor little bat is knocked out of her mother's grasp and lands in a birds' nest. The mother bird accepts Stellaluna as long as she acts like a bird, not a bat.

Thank You, Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco describes what it was like to be unable to read in the fifth grade. She was taunted by classmates and plagued with her own self-doubt until a teacher finally recognized that she couldn't read and gave her the assurance and help she needed to succeed.

Freddy the Detective
by Walter Brooks

Originally published in 1932, Freddy the Detective is an overlooked classic. Freddy is a pig who finds his true calling when he finds a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the barn one day. The witty and still very fresh vocabulary in which Freddy expresses himself is just delightful!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bullying: Where Do We Begin?

 Bullying takes place outside of the lessons (with a smirk or a taunt), in places not policed by teachers (the bathrooms and change rooms) and  even outside the school grounds (on the computer or at parties), and it gains momentum with an audience.  Bullying is also not confined to the behaviour of children.

Bullying is quite an issue in schools these days. There is no doubt about that. Some people think it's a problem, some think it's just kids being kids, and others take a middle ground saying yes it can be a problem but it is best to let the kids sort it out.

I wrote in a post a few weeks ago that bullying must be defined. Everyone knows what it is, when he is being bullied but few know what it is when asked to stop doing it.

In the last two years, the Ontario government created Bill 168 . This legislation is designed to keep schools safe. All bullying that goes on whether at school or after (that affects the students, or staff) must be reported to the principal. The idea is that the principal will have all the information needed to make decisions that are appropriate to the situation.

I applaud the implementation of Bill 168 because it is a good start at tackling the problem. But it is only a start...

What do you think?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Casey Anthony: Will There Be A Musical?

No one talks about how remarkable it is that 12 jurors were able to put aside the media saturation of the Casey Anthony story to arrive at a verdict independently of it. I was amazed by that. As a juror, I would have been aware (at least) of the public outcry that would ensue after a guilty verdict. I couldn't stand hearing any more about the case on the news and I live in Canada. How bad must it have been to live in Florida, where it all took place?


 Let's face it. Nancy Grace had convicted Casey Anthony on TV long before the trial ever came up. To be sure, I thought she was guilty too. But Casey Anthony deserved her day in court. And when she got it, a very different story emerged than the one pieced together by Grace. The jurors believed the newer story.

Anthony was freed and Nancy Grace was livid. You know, Nancy Grace loves to sell that she was a prosecutor for years in Georgia. She loves to draw on that fact. But if she believed in the judicial process, as she says she does, then she has to accept that Casey Anthony was found not guilty.

Let's make a distinction between "not guilty" and "innocent". It seems that a lot of people do not. Casey Anthony was not found innocent. No one ever is. The accused is determined to be in violation of the law or not. She was found not guilty of a violation of the law, namely murder. That is a very different thing than being found innocent.

In the past few weeks, Casey released a video diary (perhaps she misses the limelight?) where her hair was died blond and she had a nose ring. Of course her appearance has changed. Her lawyers probably advised her to do it. She was too recognizable in her naturally dark hair. It is said that she would be in danger if spotted on the street because people believe she is guilty regardless of the verdict.

The whole case - a beautiful young child, a horrifically dysfunctional family, the closed-mouth accused, the changing stories from the family - makes this story so interesting to the public. The "news" casters loved it. And so did the general population. Wherever you are in your life and whatever mistakes you have made, at least you are not an Anthony.

It is amazing how infamous Casey Anthony has become. Everyone on the continent has heard of her and her daughter, Caylee. Her name will be as synonymous with miscarried justice as Lizzie Borden's was a hundred years ago. And so, at what point will her situation and some aspect of her story become a selling point, for filmmakers to hawk? Her current notoriety could transform her into a ghoulish figure that is bigger than life? Will there be a musical? Will there be community theater plays? Maybe I should write one.


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