Classroom Picks

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a classroom aide in a small private school here in the Twin Cities, and I often find myself paying special attention to books that I wish had been available for me to share with the class then.  Here are a couple of examples that have caught my eye recently.

getintoartanimalsAnimals by Susie Brooks (Series: Get into Art).  August 2013. 9780753470589. Gr. 1-3

For one semester, I sat in on a multi-age art class, and I often helped supervise the younger kids in the class project.  The teacher usually began the lesson by showing reproductions of a particular artist’s works and talking about the technique that was the focus of the project for the day.  Sometimes it took some translating to make the lesson and the project accessible to the younger kids.  In the Get into Art series, Susie Brooks opens the door to art to all ages, even the youngest artists. Each spread features a large reproduction of a painting or other work along with a brief discussion of the piece–a gatefold opens for an activity based on the work.  Many of the activities are simple enough that the 5-7 year-olds in the class would be able to join in the fun along with their older classmates.  Both Animals and People would be great choices to have available in the library for art classes or for interested browsers.

justfineJust Fine the Way They Are by Connie Wooldridge.  2011. 9781590787106. Gr. 3-6

I also helped out in a social studies class that was studying transportation with a focus on its change over time.  This book would have just perfect!  It begins in 1805 with a tavern owner who is unhappy with the decision to construct a National Road past his business.  He  was worried that his business would suffer if it was too easy for people to travel.  They wouldn’t need to stop for food or lodging if they weren’t always getting stuck in the mud on the dirt roads.  That’s just the beginning, of course. From there, the book explores the development of the railroad and the automobile.  Not everyone was happy about any of these changes, but as we can see, they happened anyway.  There is so much to discuss about this book, and it even ties into current events at the end when it brings up potential future changes to the way our cars are fueled. Check out the author’s web site for lesson plans for teachers who want to include Just Fine the Way They Are in their classrooms to talk about transportation history or change over time.

For more classroom picks and teaching ideas, be sure to look for Lori’s posts on Books in Bloom.  She is one of Mackin’s Classroom Services superstars, and she has written about Teaching Your Favorite Novels in Light of Common Core, Picture Books in the Classroom, and more.  You can also find many more suggestions, both old and new, on’s extensive library of professionally compiled title lists.

What books have caught your eye for classroom use next year?  Share your ideas in the comments or tweet us @MackinBooks!

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