"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Best Resources for Independence Day

I love books! I love reading! I LOVE HISTORY!

Unfortunately, those three things didn’t often go together when I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s. There   were some dry, boring history books back in the day, but I was fortunate to have a mother who was an avid reader and a librarian who always choose the BEST books for me and made me a lifelong learner.Red heart

mama at unc-chapel hill 1944
My mother attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
With July 4 almost here, I thought I would share some of my favorite children’s literature both old and new on the topic of INDEPENDENCE DAY!

My first choice: Joy Hakim’s History of US ( series)

Why: Joy Hakim’s series are the backbone of my US History read alouds. She engages the reader with details of how things look, smell, and sound as we travel back in time. The series is  an excellent choice for visualizing history, and her writing style is filled with snippets of first-person accounts and documents. I also like the fact that she doesn’t present historical figures as being perfect and  “god-like”. We read about their flaws and failures, and I think this better paints a picture of what leaders are while it also encourages kids to see that sometimes despite setbacks, you can  still succeed.

An Old Favorite: Jean Fritz

Why: Jean Fritz is an old favorite of mine and still is at the top of my list. I read her books growing up. Joy Hakim ( above) actually uses Fritz’s work as a reference often. Fritz makes the characters sometimes quirky and always memorable. My students again see how historical figures are not perfect human beings but have both good and bad qualities. For instance: John Hancock made a horrible soldier and complained about the conditions and went  back home which sparked a discussion on why some folks should or shouldn’t be leaders. I use this set of books to do a fact and opinion activity because in fourth grade, we begin to introduce the idea of bias. These books are excellent to start discussions on whether or not Fritz has reported straight facts or offered her opinions as she writes her biographies so the books are also good for studying the author's craft.

The Liberty Tree

Why: This book has been published under several titles. It is still one of my favorite books because the language is easy to understand and concise but the illustrations and captions add interest. I find that the students read this one on their own, also. I find in our discussions that this is one that they quote from.

If You Lived….

Most of the books in this entire series have a home in my classroom. They are easy to read independently in the intermediate and upper grades ( 3rd-5th), and they have a question and answer format that breaks the text into smaller bits.  I use these books to show the strategy of asking and answering questions. The only flaw I find in the entire set is that I wish there was an index. Instead students must skim and scan the table of contents to locate information that is specific, and for kids, that is time-consuming and often frustrating. Despite that, I would still say the texts are worth reading.

Another favorite of my students by Lane Smith:

Why: I have to say it’s the quirky, cartoon characters that get the kids hooked on this one. I often find this one hidden in a kid's desk!

Something New: I found this one as I was looking over my collection, and it looks from the preview like it would be a good read aloud. I am always looking for read alouds in social studies especially something in the picture book category. It may be a new addition to my bookshelf.

One OLDIE and Another Newbie:
One of the people who is a part of both our American Revolution and Constitution units is Thomas Jefferson. I have several of the Marvin Barrett books which are extremely easy to read for fourth graders, and they seem to get kids hooked on reading biographies. It must work: this series has been around for a while.
In my search, I also found a book by Cheryl Harness. I have several of her books ( like the one on Daniel Boone), and while it’s not filled with colorful pictures, the information is outstanding for a history nut: sketches with labels, maps, and also a timeline of what else was going on as far as world history during the spot-lighted person’s life. Her writing style is also  enjoyable to read and conversational- almost like you are being taught firsthand.

These are just a few to get your kids and students thinking and reading INDEPENDENTLY for the July 4!Smile



"I bear the flame that enlightens the world. I fire the imagination. I give might to dreams and wings to the aspirations of men."
- Marva Collins, from her poem, "I Am Excellence."

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