Monday, March 23, 2020

Synergy: José de la Luz Sáenz

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888-1953) was a teacher, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the League of United Latin American Citizens. The published diary of his World War I observations and experiences as a Mexican-American solider has become well-known.
Read the recently published children's book on this topic, then learn more at the website:
SOLIDER FOR EQUALITY by Duncan Tonatiuh is the winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the Robert F. Silbert medal. Featuring Tonatiuh’s unique illustrations, this biographical picture book explores the life and accomplishments of José de la Luz Sáenz. This Mexican-American activist overcame prejudice to become a World War I hero and advocate for equality. The book concludes with an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, glossary, and index.
The José de la Luz Sáenz page at the Texas State Historical Association provides an in-depth examination of this author and activist.
Visit the Texas State Historical Association <>
ARC Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Synergy: Endangered Insects

When people think of endangered species, insects are often overlooked. From bees and butterflies to beetles, many species of insects are becoming endangered or extinct. The disappearance of species can have a serious impact on ecosystems.
Read the recently published middle grade book on this topic, then learn more at the website:
BUGS IN DANGER by Mark Kurlansky is a work of nonfiction that examines vanishing bees, butterflies, and beetles. This fascinating middle grade book focuses on the decline of species in recent years. The book concludes with a bibliography and index.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lists dozens of insect species that are endangered. Readers can read about specific beetles, butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, flies, moths, skippers, stoneflies, and bees.
Visit the Environmental Conservation Online System at
ARC courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Synergy: Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is a novel originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. In this semi-autobiographical novel, readers follow the four March sisters from childhood to womanhood. Alcott’s books were a critical success and continue to be popular with young readers today. The recently released movie has brought a renewed interest in the story.
Read the recently published children's book on this topic, then learn more at the website:
LITTLE WOMEN: THE OFFICIAL MOVIE COMPANION by Gina McIntyre explores the author, the movie, and the legacy of Little Women. The book includes perspectives from the movie’s director and discussions about how young women today can relate to the characters.
ARC Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Synergy: Drawing Aliens

People have been imagining what aliens might look like for generations. Are they little green men or otherworldly figures? No one knows, but children love to speculate.
Read the recently published children's book, then learn more at the website:
RALPH MASIELLO’S ALIEN DRAWING BOOK is part of Masiello’s popular drawing series that provides easy-to-following instructions for drawing. Whether sketching robots and flying saucers or the Multimouthed Martian, kids will have hours of fun with this engaging how-to picture book. The book concludes with suggested readings and websites.
Use NASA’S SPACE PLACE to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. The website contains dozens of hands-on activities to explore space science topics.
NASA’s SpacePlace <>
ARC courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Synergy: Ocean Life

Ocean life includes the plants, animals, and other organisms that live in the salt water of the ocean.
OCEAN EMPORIUM by Susie Brooks explores the many creatures that live in the ocean. Each two-page spread features an overview and several examples of a particular species such as crabs, jellyfish, or sharks. Both the common and scientific names are provided along with a simple, colorful illustration of each creature.
Use the book to brainstorm questions for ocean life inquiries. Then, use the website for photographs and more in-depth information.
OCEAN from the Smithsonian Institution provides hundreds of articles related to ocean topics. The ocean life section of the website will be of particular interest to students conducting inquiries related to marine life. The educators section contains dozens of lesson plans to extend the experience.
ARC courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Synergy: Learning with Objects

An object is a material thing that can be seen or touched. An artifact is an object made by humans. From an arrowhead to a piece of clothing, objects are useful in the study of history.
THE APARTMENT by Alexandra Litvina chronicles the history of Russia from 1899-2018 through the people and objects in an apartment. Using a scrapbook approach, the author and illustrator follow the Muromtsevs who live in an apartment in Moscow. Readers learn about how the family and Russia as a whole changes from generation to generation through the 20th century. The Bolshevik Revolution, two World Wars, the rise of the USSR, the Cold War, the space race, and the rise of the Russian Federation are seen through the eyes of the Muromtsevs. Filled with engaging illustrations, primary source documents and fascinating artifacts, readers are invited to participate in the story by examining objects in the apartment as they change over time.
TEACHING HISTORY WITH 100 OBJECTS from The British Museum provides 100 objects to inspires students’ interest in history. Users can search for objects by date, place, or theme. Resources are also available by age and curriculum topic. For instance, the collection includes a Jesse Jackson for President badge from 1984. Background information, the larger context of the item, teaching ideas, and classroom materials are available.
Teaching History with 100 Objects
ARC courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Synergy: Endangered Animals

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides for the conservation of endangered and threatened fish, wildlife, and plants. Endangered animals are in danger of extinction, while those listed as threatened are likely to become endangered species in the near future.
WHO AM I? by Tim Flach is a peek-through picture book introducing the concept of endangered animals to young readers. Each two-page spread contains a photograph representing the animal’s habitat, a clue about the animal, and a peek at a part of the animal’s body. In some cases, no habitat is provided but additional visual clues are provided instead.
A second two-page spread reveals the the animal and its name. Children will identify some creatures immediately and others that will be a challenge. The book concludes with information about what makes each animal special and why it’s endangered. Use this book as a fun way to jumpstart an exploration of endangered animals.
ENDANGERED.ORG is the website of a group that strives to stop human-caused extinction of at-risk species. The blog contains up-to-date information of species currently in danger. The campaign focuses on key events such as the Endangered Species Day celebrated in May each year. The endangered species section features pages for key animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, plants, and invertebrates. Information and an infographic details the specifics of the Endangered Species Act.
Endangered Species Coalition
ARC courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.