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Search for Lessons to Use With Popular Stories (Upper Elementary)
Free, Common Core-aligned lessons for 3rd-5th grade texts.
Lessons are divided by grade-level, and listed alphabetically. When alphabetizing, the words "A" and "The" at the beginning of a title have been ignored.
Grade 3 (A-D)
A boy and his family endure a difficult nine-week journey across the ocean and survive the first winter at Plymouth. Based on true events, "Across the Wide Dark Sea" poetically narrates a young boy’s account of risking the ocean to find religious freedom in a new land.
This nonfiction story is about a partnership between a policeman, Officer Mike, and his partner, a police dog named Aero. Information about daily routine (work and breaks), Aero’s special talents and Officer Mike’s training and care of Aero is included.
This informational text describes how paleontologists continue to investigate unanswered questions about dinosaurs.
The story is about a little boy who tries in vain to save, but unfortunately makes poor decisions and squanders his money.
Allie has a new basketball. She has a hard time finding someone to play with her because they believe basketball is a boys’ game. Allie continues to practice and play, despite their opinions.
During her first days at school in America, Ut experiences alienation and separation. Later, she finds understanding and acceptance. With his first encounters with a child from Vietnam, Raymond sees only her differences. Later, through closer encounters, he is able to see similarities in their needs and feelings.
The story explains the life of animals that live in Antarctica. The author describes life for the animals as they wait for summer to arrive.
Nine-year old Anthony is proud of his history, culture, and family tradition of Mexican rodeo-style roping and riding. He also enjoys various aspects of his modern life such as school, basketball, friendships, swimming, and exploring.
Sarah and Susan are sisters who enjoy spending Sunday afternoons with their great-great Aunt Flossie. Aunt Flossie entertains her great-grandnieces by letting them explore her collection of hats, each of which has a story of its own.
The author, Helen Lester, traces her writing career from the age of three to adulthood. She shares her struggles with writing in elementary school and even later as a successful writer. Helen’s story demonstrates that even the most challenging struggles can be overcome with persistence and a good sense of humor.
This historical fiction story takes place in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression in New York City. Baseball was king and Babe Ruth was at the top of his game. In this story, a young boy and his father become a team as they both work to support their family.
When war breaks out in Mulan’s land and her father is drafted into the army, Mulan makes a great sacrifice when she disguises herself as a male to take her father’s place.
Diphtheria has broken out in Nome, Alaska. Teams of sled dogs carry medicine 800 miles over snow and ice to prevent an epidemic. Everyone was brave but one dog, Balto, made the difference between failure and success.
A Prince must find a girl who will love him, in spite of his frightening curse.
A family moves into an unpopulated area. With the ingenuity of one young girl, a town is established and grows. The idea of supply and demand is evident in this story. The businesses in town grow to include a tanner, a cooper, a miller, a blacksmith and a laundry.
Sam and Cam own a detective agency. They are contacted by the Bear family, who is upset because their banana pancakes have been eaten and someone has been sitting in their chairs. Sam and Cam use various pieces of evidence they and contact Professor Evvie Dense to help them use the clues to solve the mystery.
Young Jose’ Mendez is a terrific centerfielder but a weak hitter. Jose’ wants his father to be proud of him. When his father calls him a "Born Outfielder," Jose’ realizes that his father is proud of his abilities on and off the field.
In this story, Dag and his son Axel are at their climbing school in the Teton Mountains when the family dog, Grits, is stranded on Cathedral Wall as a violent storm approaches. Both characters must confront their fears and rely on their climbing experience and each other to safely rescue their pet.
"Cocoa Ice" is set in the early 1800s and describes the exchange that occurs when a trading ship from Maine travels to the Caribbean village of Santo Domingo. The story is told in two parts, each part narrated by a girl who lives in one of these locations.
In this work of fiction, Rooster and his eager friends set out to make strawberry shortcake, a recipe from Little Red Hen’s cookbook. Rooster is glad to have help, but none of his friends know how to cook, so Rooster forges ahead to teach the helpers the basics of cooking and baking, with very funny results.
Country Mouse invites her friend, City Mouse to visit her in the country. City Mouse does not enjoy the country and convinces Country Mouse to return to the city with her. Country Mouse enjoys the fine surroundings and foods until a noisy party burst into the room and the mice must scurry and hide. Country Mouse decides to return to her home in the country as she prefers her poor food in “peace and quiet” to the richest feast where “Fear and Danger lie waiting”.
"Cows in the Parlor: A Visit to a Dairy Farm" is an expository article about the daily running of a dairy farm. Students learn about a day in the life of a cow, Maggie, including what she eats, how she’s milked, and other interesting facts.
In this story, Coyote builds a ladder to the Heavens and moves the stars to make pictures of himself and his animal friends. After viewing the constellations, the animals decree that Coyote is the most clever and crafty of them all.
Curt, a young Tewa Indian, and his grandfather, Andy, prepare for Feast Day. They enjoy the good food, beautiful dances, colorful costumes – and the time they spend together celebrating the traditions of their ancestors
The students at Riverside Elementary School are excited about a visit from a real author. The class has been reading books by the author to get ready for her visit. No one was as excited as Eddie.
After his grandfather comes to America from Mexico, Francisco helps him find work. Francisco finds his grandfather work as a gardener even though the old man cannot speak English and was a carpenter by trade. This lie leads to them doing incorrect work. The grandfather teaches Francisco a valuable lesson about honesty and integrity.
Juno receives a letter from his grandmother who lives in Seoul, Korea. Even though he cannot read the Korean-language text, she is able to communicate with her grandmother through letters that include pictures and objects.
Dogzilla is a fantasy story of mice who protect their city,Mousopolis, from being destroyed by Dogzilla. The mice come up with a plan to give Dogzilla a bath, which scares him away.
Grade 3 (E-L)
This is a biography of Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman astronaut.
Beverly Cleary tells the story of a family on a rainy Sunday in a household full of bad moods. Ramona’s father suggests they all go out to dinner. While out, an old man pays for their dinner because he believes they are a nice family and he misses his own family.
Sarah is nervous about starting a new school and shows it by trying to stay in bed and saying she’s too sick to go to school. The ending is a surprise when you find out that Sarah is the new teacher, and she is nervous about whether or not her class will like her and how she’ll fit in to her new school.
In this tall tale story, deadbeat Shorty Long has to avoid the people to whom he owes money. He tries to trick Widow Macrae out of $4.50, but actually created more problems for himself.
A little boy loses his neighbor’s dog inside the mysterious garden of Abdul Gasazi, who tells the boy that he has turned the dog into a duck. But when the boy returns home he finds the dog waiting for him on the porch. Gasazi was playing a trick on the boy - or was he?
“The Go-Around Dollar” is a selection that combines two genres: realistic fiction and expository text. It provides an entertaining look at the journey of a dollar as it passes through the hands of various characters.
In this story Gertrude Ederle overcomes obstacles, both physical and social, in order to prevail at her lifelong dream of being the first women to swim the English Channel.
In this story, Jangmi moves from her home in Korea to a new home in the United States. At first she is sad about leaving behind her friends and Korean customs and traditions, but once she arrives in America she begins to adjust. She becomes hopeful that someday America could feel like home, too.
The article gives factual information about the when, where and how the game of basketball began and how it is played.
The folktale “Half-Chicken” is about a chicken hatched with only half a body, one leg, one wing, one eye, and only half as many feathers as the other chicks.
Angel Arrellano, a nine-year-old girl from Fresno, CA. spearheaded a campaign to raise money to be donated to the local zoo. Her enthusiasm and altruism generated an overwhelming response from the Fresno community and beyond, which allowed for much needed upkeep and improvements for the zoo and its animals.
This nonfiction piece tells about Barbara del Colorado, a village in Costa Rica. People needed a way to make money; a scientist suggested that they grow butterflies. The town now sells 250 pupae a month, making enough money to buy what they need.
“Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest” takes the reader on a journey around the world to various continents found on Earth that contain unique natural features.
“How Animals Talk” is an informational, nonfiction selection describing how various animals communicate or send messages. Animals communicate with each other to warn of danger, to share feelings, to attract a mate, and even prove dominance.
Saturdays and Sundays are very special days for the young girl in this story. On Saturdays, she visits Grandma and Grandpa, who come from a European-American background, and on Sundays--los domingos--she visits Abuelito y Abuelita, who are Mexican-American. While the two sets of grandparents are different in many ways, they also have a great deal in common--in particular, their love for their granddaughter.
This text explains the nuts and bolts of how different types of coins, bills, and checks; how they are connected; and how your dollars can earn money through the bank.
Jalapeño Bagels is a story about a young bi-cultural boy named Pablo on a search to find a dish to bring to school for International Day. Pablo agrees to go with his Mexican mother and Jewish father to their family bakery in order to prepare a dish to take to school. However, he has a difficult time deciding what to take because none of these individual dishes include his full heritage.
This realistic fictional story is about Steven and his Aunt Carolyn. The two have always shared a special bond; each time Aunt Carolyn takes a trip, she sends a special postcard to Steven. Now, Aunt Carolyn is coming for the family block party and Steven wants to find a special gift for her.
This Informational text focuses on the migration habits of the grasshopper/locust and the gray whale.
“Journey to the Moon” reflects a huge achievement of landing men on the moon. In 1969, three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins) on Apollo 11 accomplished this feat. This story describes in detail the journey of these astronauts.
In this story, Michael Jordan is a very active child. His family helps him to channel his energy into positive activities and eventually becomes a very successful basketball player.
“Just Plain Fancy” is the story of a young Amish girl, Naomi, who longs to have something fancy in her life. But when an she finds an unusual egg that hatches into a peacock, she ends up learning a valuable lesson about an acceptable and admired kind of fancy.
Patricia’s Great-Grandmother comes to America as a child from Russia. She creates a quilt that is passed on from generation to generation. The quilt becomes an important symbol and is used in many of the family’s traditional Jewish celebrations.
This story takes place in the 1930s in the Great Plains region of the United States devastated by a great drought. Leah had been given a pony by her father when times were good and crops were growing. Leah sells her pony to Mr. B to help her father. At the end of the story, Mr. B gives the pony back to Leah.
Damon and Pythias are great friends who will sacrifice anything for each other. Pythias finds himself in trouble and Damon helps his friend to realize his last request. The tables are turned when Pythias overcomes an obstacle to get back to his friend. The King realizes what true friendship is.
This selection is a narrative nonfiction story about supply and demand. It gives readers information about the basics of starting a business, and also provides standard business terms and their definitions. Karly encounters some problems in her business, but she figures out ways to solve her problems and reach her goal of having a successful business.
In this nonfiction story, readers learn how and why scientists brave the extreme conditions of both poles in order to do research that will help us learn more about our world.
Life in the Grunt tribe changes when a baby dinosaur hatches from the huge egg that Little Grunt drags home for brunch.
This is the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood. In the story, the mother leaves 3 children home alone as she goes to visit the grandmother on her birthday. A wolf visits the 3 children dressed as their grandmother, Lon Po Po. The children become wise to the wolf and trick the wolf into riding high in a basket and falling to his death.
Two students hide in the bathroom in order to avoid taking the math test, eventually telling their teacher they were trapped yb a giant squid. While waiting to speak to the principal, they go in to the lost and found, where they enter an imaginary world hidden in the lost and found bin.
Grade 3 (M-R)
This is an informational article about a woman named Maya Lin who has designed monuments around the country honoring historic events.
Even though Lupe Medrano is the top student at her school, she is a failure at sports until she tries her hand at marbles, so she practices playing marbles day and night and exercises her poor thumb until it is sore and swollen. When Lupe enters the marble championship she wins one match after another.
Judy Moody is on a mission to save the rain forest. Not only has she chosen to make this her mission, she is also determined to make it the mission of her unknowing family.
This is a story about Saruni, a young boy, and his family, who are both consumers and sellers in a market in Tanzania. There are many enticing items at the markert, but Saruni decides to save his money so he can buy a bike to help his mother take heavy loads to sell at the market.
In this folktale, the town of Barletta faces destruction until Zia Concetta asks the town’s giant statue for help. With a clever idea, help from the townspeople and an onion, the giant outwits the army and restores peace.
Detective Nate the Great searches San Francisco for a lost joke book. He discovers that the wrong place can be the best place to look for a lost item.
Police Officer Buckle gives safety speeches that no one listens to until a police dog, Gloria, joins him. Because Gloria acts out the safety tips in an amusing way behind Officer Buckle’s back, his audiences start to pay attention and follow his safety tips. But when Officer Buckle discovers that people are entertained by Gloria, not by him, he gets upset and stops giving speeches until an accident happens in town.
The Olympic Games have grown and changed since the first contests were held in Ancient Greece. However, one aspect of the games remains the same—their ability to inspire amazing performances from the world’s best athletes.
This story is a folktale about a princess named Aziza who chooses her husband based on his answer to a math riddle. After traveling the kingdom, many suitors (a scholar, a merchant, and a soldier) try to answer her riddle but to no avail. A simple farmer is able to easily solve the riddle and that is who she chooses as her husband.
This expository nonfiction text is about how an oak tree may become vulnerable to disease from its bark being damaged by a bear clawing it.
Before language was written, people from all over the world have recorded their family histories orally. They have used storytelling, songs, and poems to tell about important names, dates, events, and deeds. Today, people all over the world listen, record, and write these oral histories to ensure that they are not forgotten.
This realistic fiction story is about a young boy, Max, who is growing up on a large fruit farm in Chile and how he wants to find a friend in a faraway place.
In this nonfiction selection, an Emperor penguin lays an egg in the bitter cold of Antarctica. The penguin parents battle the harsh environment to protect the egg and nurture the chick to maturity.
Pepita stops speaking Spanish because she is tired of being the neighborhood translator. However, when a disaster nearly occurs, Pepita realizes that speaking two languages is best.
Elizabeth was very determined to convince her parents to get her a pet. No matter what she did, her parents did not agree. Unexpectedly, she finds the perfect pet (a bug!) right under her nose, and her parents relent.
This excerpt from a biography explains how Pablo Picasso’s painting style changed over the twentieth century. It describes his Blue Period, Rose Period, and the period of Cubism.
This informational, nonfiction text introduces the solar system and its many parts – the sun, the eight planets, the satellites of the planets, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. It includes models that show sizes of the planets relative to the Earth and their distances from the Sun.
Poppa buys himself some new pants that need hemming. The women of his family are too tired to hem the pants before church the following morning. During the night, “ghosts”—really the women in the family—each remove material from the pants so that the pants are ultimately too short for Papa.
Most kids collect something. Prudy collects everything! Rocks, stamps, foil, worn-out toothbrushes, pretty paper napkins, tufts of hair from different breeds of dogs --everything! It is a delightful examination of a common affliction.
A young girl raises a dragon on her family’s farm. The young girl takes the dragon to Dragon Island, but returns to the farm with a new batch of eggs.
Ramona and Beezus, two sisters, get into trouble for not eating their dinner. As punishment, they must cook dinner for the family.The girls learn how difficult it is to prepare a family dinner.
As a child, the author’s father was fascinated by rocks.This interest consumed the young boy as he collected them in all of his spare time. People told him that he had rocks in his pockets and in his head. But he never allowed their criticism to detour him. Finally, a museum offers him a great job because a man with "rocks in his head" was just what they needed.
Rosie is a Tibetan terrier whose friendly nature makes her a perfect visiting dog. After a lot of training, she brings comfort to people in nursing homes and hospitals.
In this realistic fiction story, young children’s powers of imagination create the town of Roxaboxen filled with houses, buildings, and stores. Years later, these friends reflect on the memories of their special town.
Ruby wants to fit in with her new class, so she imitates everything her friend Angela does. The teacher, Miss Hart, encourages Ruby to just be herself. At first, Ruby struggles with this idea, but then discovers that she has a special gift to share.
In this story, a boy has a dog named Rugby with whom he is great friends. One day a puppy named Rosie joins the family. Rugby does not want to be friends with Rosie. But a friendship finally develops, even though Rosie is destined to leave and become a guide dog.
Grade 3 (S-Z)
This nonfiction text discusses how a fourth grade class at Union Avenue School worked hard to protect the New Jersey shoreline by planting recycled Christmas trees in the sand. The trees prevent high tides from flooding sand dunes, which serve as animal habitats and also protect people’s homes.
This text is a reader’s theater with seven parts set in the television studio of a school’s morning news network. The story begins with reports about the lunch menu and weather. The science reporter reports on their class frog and some of the things she has learned about frogs. The play ends with a report from the sports reporter about soccer.
This informational, nonfiction selection describes how schools are different in various parts of the world and includes “amazing facts” about these schools. Even though schools are different there is one common thread: school is a place to learn.
A third grade girl named Beany creates a science fair project with her partner, Kevin. Beany is not confident that their project is the best since it does not include flashy props. Beany learns that good science is enough to win the science fair, and she regains her self-esteem through winning.
Ben goes to the beach and watches a seal being born. Over the next few seasons, Ben develops a special bond with this seal, a bond that Ben knows will last the rest of his life.
This poem describes the feelings of a girl whose best friend, Hanna, has moved away. The little girl feels that nothing will be the same again since her friend left.
The informational text includes text features, such as photographs and captions, to give an overview of information about spiders and to explain the similarities and differences between spider species, such as the Cobweb Spider, Ray Spider, Social Spiders, Water Spider, Golden Orb Weaver, and the Hawaiian Happy-face Spider.
This folktale is about three monks who visit a village filled with unhappy people. The villagers do not welcome the monks, so the three monks decide to make stone soup to teach the villagers a lesson in happiness.
Julian meets Gloria, a new girl in his neighborhood. Together they make a wish kite, with wishes fastened to its tail; both wish for lasting friendship.
“Storm in the Night” is a realistic fiction story that looks at the relationship between a grandfather and grandson. It is set against the backdrop of a long storm on a dark night when the lights go out and the story unfolds through their dialogue with each other.
This African folk tale explains how many African tales came to be known as “Spider stories.” In this tale, Ananse, the Spider man, travels up to the sky to offer to buy Nyame, the Sky God’s, stories. Nyame asks Ananse to bring him Osebo the leopard-of-the-terrible-teeth, Mmboro the hornets-who-sting-like-fire, and Mmoatia the fairy-whom-men-never-see. Ananse agrees to the price but Nyame believes that Ananse is too small and weak to accomplish such a task. Ananse uses his intelligence and cunning to trick all three creatures. He returns to Nyame with payment for his stories. Nyame calls his court together to sing the praises of Ananse and declares his stories “Spider stories.”
This is a Zuni play about an ant in the search to find out who is strongest of all. The ant talks with numerous characters to find out who is the strongest. At the end, he learns the lesson that everything is stronger than something else.
Suki's favorite possession is her blue cotton kimono. A gift from her obachan (grandmother), it holds special memories of her grandmother's visit last summer. Suki is going to wear it on her first day back to school—no matter what anyone says.
Glashka uses her innate connection and intuition with nature to help bring together the community in hopes of trying to save the lives of the trapped Beluga whales, who have swam into the freezing channel.
Benny is nervous about the upcoming talent show. After a talk with her parents, Beany realizes that the most important thing is doing what makes her feel happy and not letting herself get pressured by her friend.
Amber, her brother, and her parents visit Aunt Phoebe, a traveler, collector and storyteller. Aunt Phoebe shares a cloth with the family. The cloth, came from Ghana, Africa and represents individual personalities. After hearing the story of the cloth, Amber wraps The Talking Cloth around herself stimulating her learning, growth, knowledge, wisdom, and connection with her Ashanti heritage.
This informational selection introduces the reader to artists that express their feelings and experiences through painting murals in their communities. These murals encourage hope, dreams, freedom and democracy.
This non-fiction article gives information about the Chinese immigrants who came to California in the 1800’s seeking prosperity. As they arrived from China, they struggled to make a better life. Together they established supportive communities that allowed them to hold on to their culture, language, traditions, and foods.
In this true story, Ernest Shackleton and his crew face challenging situations once their ship, The Endurance, becomes trapped in the icy waters of the Weddell Sea. The men must work together, amid all adversity, to survive and find a way off the ice and onto solid land.
In this trickster tale, Bear and Hare are involved in a gardening partnership. Industrious, clever Hare makes a deal with Bear— Hare and his family work Bear's land and split the crops in half. In the end, Bear learns that he has to do hard work to be rewarded.
This informational text describes the ways in which trees are made up of many important parts that grow and change.
A boy named Taro helps Jiro-San, a wise old man, clean up the beach for the giant sea turtles that swim ashore to lay their eggs. While he waits, he learns about the rewards that come from being calm and observing the world around you.
Two ants, along with others from their nest, set out to gather crystals for their queen. Initially staying and keeping crystals for themselves, the two ants eventually learn to be happy in their familiar nest.
Sonia, her father, and a group of their neighbors launch a peaceful protest to help 5 deer that have wandered into their city neighborhood in search of food.
Despite obstacles in his life such as a family illness and the Great Depression, Uncle Jed achieved his dream of opening a barbershop at age 79.
Volcanoes show us how the earth changes. Volcanoes can be made of lava, gases, hot steam, ground-up rocks and melted rock called lava. Scientists study volcanoes and the earth’s movement and try to understand how they erupt.
This selection is written as a Readers’ Theater where the students read the script aloud. The script is written as a fictional travel journal in which the characters record their travel experiences in space. The journal entries highlight facts about the sun and the planets in our solar system.
In this biography, Amy VanDyken overcomes many challenges throughout her life to become an Olympic gold medalist.
A boy on a family backpacking adventure discovers an amazing waterfall and decides he wants to climb to the top. The boy becomes a leader and the family bonds when the boy challenges them all to climb it
This fable is about a boy’s search for knowledge. To achieve his goal, the boy barters with characters ranging from a carpet maker to a merchant. At the end of the fable, the Grand Master offers two moral lessons and helps the young man realize that he already has knowledge.
Modern inventions used to make lives easier harm the planet. There are several predictions about how towns of the future will be built in order to keep the planet’s environment healthy. Some predictions are: electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, organic farming, solar powered energy, and recycled waste water.
In this poem, Charlie loses access to his favorite activities, panics, and makes an impulsive decision that hurts his sister’s feelings and lands him in time-out. After some time to think, he eventually realizes that he has a great sister and found things that he can do for fun that he didn’t do before.
A wildlife photographer describes her love for animals and how she took some of her favorite up-close photos of them.
In the story Wings, Ikarus Jackson is shunned and tormented by his peers, as well as community members because of his unique physical appearance.
This fantasy tells the story of a wolf who learns to read to gain the respect and friendship of farm animals.
Chief Sky, the beloved leader of the Cherokee tribe, is growing old. He decides it is time to find a new leader to take his place. He calls three young men to his side and tells them that one of them will become chief, but must first be “put to the test.”
Yunmi's first trip to Korea with her grandmother introduces her to family she’s never met. She has to share her grandmother with all her Korean cousins. Yunmi learns new things about her Korean culture, her extended family, and herself.
Grade 4 (A-H)
This play is about a group of boys and girls who are summertime campers at the National Sea Base camp in the Florida Keys. Their adventure includes camping, snorkeling, and sailing aboard the ship.
“Akiak” is the story of a dog that desires to win the Iditarod with her owner, Mick. Akiak is injured and is disqualified from finishing the race, but she follows Mick and the team of dogs to the finish line.
Pilot Amelia Earhart and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt are good friends and one night, after dinner at the White House, Amelia then offers to take Eleanor on an unforgettable night flight to Baltimore and back in the Curtis Condor twin-motor airplane. By the time they arrive back in Washington D.C., a group of reporters meets them at the airstrip. Eleanor admits to not flying this time, but has every intention to fly in the near future.
Gloria waits in a checkout line, tossing around the onion her mother had sent her to buy. She tosses it too far and fears it’s going to knock over a display of glass jars. A woman catches it in time though. Gloria recognizes her – she‘s an astronaut! They talk about what it was like in space. The woman tells Gloria that she could be an astronaut too.
In this play, the neighborhood baker Manuel bakes delicious smelling pastries and puts them out for sale each morning, but his neighbor, Pablo, loves to smell the fresh pastries every morning without purchasing any. This irritates Manuel to the point where he feels Pablo should pay to smell his baked goods, and Manuel takes his complaint to the town judge who eventually offers a ruling that allows Manuel to get the pleasure of “touching” Pablo’s gold coins in return for Pablo “smelling” the bakery.
Opal has just moved to a new town in a new state and has no friends yet. Through a series of comic mishaps inadvertently started by her very special dog, Winn-Dixie, opal meets Miss Franny, the town librarian. Opal realizes they have much in common and a friendship is ignited.
Janey’s father is an immigrant worker and this forces Janey and her family to move around every few months, but Janey finds a friend named Lupe and a place she would like to call home permanently. Janey has to go to Camp Miller School for immigrant children like herself and she finds once again she must learn whether the new teacher will be a friend or just another teacher like the ones before her.
This biography relates the life of John Batterson Stetson as a hatting apprentice until he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and decided to explore the American West. During his time with the people of the West, he invents a better hat, nicknamed “Boss of the Plains,ʺ --the first real cowboy hat.
In this book, two sisters, Maisie and Callie, are faced with a challenging situation. Callie gets hurt while their mother is away and Maisie must decide if she can rely on her knowledge of herbal medicine to save her sister’s life.
Laura Ingalls and her family are traveling by train to meet her father in Tracy. This story describes their first train ride as they head further West to build a new home.
In this Caribbean Cinderella story, Cendrillon is treated as a servant by her step-mother and half-sister. Nannin, the godmother, uses a magic wand to ready Cendrillon for a ball, where Cendrillon meets a rich man’s son, Paul, who falls in love with her and finds her when she is lost to him.
Please note: This lesson is based on "Charlotte's Web" the play, by Joseph Ronbinette, an adaptation based on the classic novel, Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White.
This story of friendship between a pig and a spider, tells how Wilbur first meets Charlotte and learns that he will be killed for food in the winter. Charlotte becomes Wilbur’s friend, and saves his life.
Chester Cricket meets Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat in Times Square. He relates the story of how he found himself transported to Times Square in a picnic basket that he had climbed into at his home in Connecticut. A friendship ensues among the characters, which helps Chester adjust to his new surroundings.
“Danitra Brown Leaves Town” is a series of poems about two young city girls, Danitra and Zuri, who are best friends, and Danitra goes away to her aunt’s house for the summer. These poems tell a story about how the girls stayed in touch by writing letters to each other, and how they discovered that they could have fun apart from one another while still remaining friends.
Mrs. LaRue sends her dog, Ike, to obedience school because of a series of inappropriate behaviors that he displays toward everyone. Ike feels he has been wrongly sent to the school and writes letters to explain his perspective on what actually happened in each situation, trying to persuade Ms. LaRue to come and get him.
Donovan asks his grandmother for advice as to what he should do with his collection of words in a jar, and she shows Donovan how he can share his word jar. The senior tenants begin to take the words and apply them to each other, causing great laughter and friendship among the normally grumpy tenants.
Since ancient times, people have used bones and fossils to imagine what animals that lived in the past were like. When scientists and paleontologists study dinosaur bones, it’s not easy for them to identify what dinosaur the bones belong to. Therefore, computers and other technology have been a big help to paleontologists in identifying bones, parts of dinosaurs and to whom they belong to.
This informational narrative in the form of a play is about a group of fourth grade students who volunteer to work with rangers on Padre Island in search of sea turtles. They are looking for the five endangered species of sea turtles that nest there, and when they discover one sea turtle, a Kemp’s ridley, coming onto shore, they carefully observe the turtle (which they name ‘Emerald’) and mark her tracks onto shore and around where she makes her nest.
Djeow Seow is the smallest, and youngest of the emperor's seven children, and since she is considered insignificant by her brothers, sisters and most importantly her father, she is frequently alone and lonely. When her father is kidnapped and imprisoned, and only Djeow Seow knows where he is, she flies her kite, morning and night, rescuing him, and forever after, Djeow Seow sits at her father’s side on a throne of her own.
Pablo Pizzaro, Idaville’s greatest boy artist, enters a New Nose Now contest, and sculpts a new nose for a statue of Abraham Lincoln, since the original nose on the statue had been smashed by a baseball. Pablo is certain he will win the contest and brags all over the neighborhood about his winning nose, but just a few days before the New Nose Now contest, Pablo’s nose is stolen, so he enlists the help of Encyclopedia Brown, famous boy detective, to catch the thief.
Leroy Brown, otherwise known as Encyclopedia, is a great detective and helps his father solve crimes. One night at dinner, they discuss the details of the case of the stolen salamander, which includes the suspects, Doctor Donnell, Mrs. King, and Sam Maine. Encyclopedia solves the crime of the stolen salamander when one suspect makes a mistake on one important detail that salamanders are amphibians, not reptiles.
In this excerpt from Charlotte’ Web, Wilbur, a bored and lonely young pig, wants a little excitement. A friendly goose shows Wilbur how to escape from his pen, but the chaos and clamor that result prove to be too much for him to handle. At the end, Wilbur finds that he has some more choices to make.
Robert Ballard describes how he and his team discovered the Titanic in 1985. Through a flashback to the story of 12-year old Ruth Becker in 1912, Ballard portrays one of the many stories that has driven his interest to preserve the Titanic on the ocean floor.
In this text, students learn about the daily role of a firefighter and the importance of firefighters in communities past and present.
When Axel and his family take a rafting trip down the swift Salmon River, they sense little risk when smoke appears in the quiet, dry wilderness, but suddenly, orange flames flash dangerously near, and Axel isn't so sure of their safety anymore. Before long, they are caught in a blazing forest and must search for a safe hideout and eventually, Axel and his family make the right call before the roaring fire gets too close.
Marisol watches her neighbors excited about making a vacant lot beautiful, so she hunts and hunts and finds her own little patch where she plants a sunflower seed, When autumn comes and her flower dies, Marisol gets discouraged, but her happiness returns when she discovers that a group of teenagers has painted a mural of sunflowers on a brick wall nearby.
Lydia Grade is sent to live with her Uncle Jim while her parents look for work. She happily settles in to her new home where she makes friends with Ed, Emma, and the neighbors. With their help she plants what she believes, is a secret garden to make her uncle flash a rare smile. After Uncle Jim sees her big surprise, he presents her with a special cake covered in flowers. Lydia Grace believes that cake equals one thousand smiles.
Along with her worldwide musical fame, Gloria Estefan also experienced tragedy, but continued to help others in unfortunate situations. Gloria’s success has allowed her to receive multiple honors and awards for her selfless work leading to her being referred to as “a star with a heart.”
A typical day in the life of a 1840's pioneer began early in the morning and involved a great deal of hard work and persistence from each member in the wagon train. Despite the difficult journey (that some did not survive), the pioneers still found comfort from daily routines and social interactions.
This nonfiction narrative is about the Grand Canyon, its many landforms, and the animals that live there. It explores how the Colorado River and continual erosion created this natural wonder over millions of years. The author takes the readers along the trail to the bottom of the river, enticing readers with vivid descriptions of what might be seen.
As a young man tells the story of his grandfather’s journey from Japan to the United States he reveals that the two actually have a lot in common with each other. Although Grandfather is not able to visit California one last time, his grandson who is telling the story is able to travel there and he too comes to love the land, and like his grandfather, the narrator travels back and forth between California and his homeland always missing one while in the other.
In this fantasy by Lynn Cherry, a man is trying to cut down a kapok tree in the Amazon rainforest. After a while of cutting the hard wood, the man grew tired and falls asleep. As he slept, several animals of the rainforest and a Yanomamo child whisper in his ear to convince the man of the importance of this tree in the fragile ecosystem.
When ten-year old Jamal’s grandfather hears that the boy is in trouble for fighting to sit in the back of the bus, he tells Jamal about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. Jamal responds with an idea for a skit for his school’s King Day assembly.
A fantastic heat wave hits a Kansas farm, roasting the geese, popping the corn in the fields, and causing other distressing events. The farm girl tries a few clever ways to get rid of it, and finally succeeds when she plants iceberg lettuce.
Hewitt is quite extraordinary--though he is a son of giants, he is small in stature, yet quite adept at taking care of himself and, worried that Hewitt was not growing, his parents called in medical specialists but medical science could not pinpoint the problem. Believing that “big things are best”, the Andersons endeavor to teach Hewitt how to live among giants and big things, but that proved difficult at best, and in return, Hewitt wounds up teaching them just how resourceful he is.
In this tale, a girl named Reba Jo loses her new cowgirl hat in an old well while entertaining herself in the arroyo, but when she meets a horned toad, she makes a deal to grant him three favors if he retrieves her hat. In the end, Reba is tricked into breaking the spell that has been cast upon the horded toad and because of his cunning idea he is turned back into a handsome young caballero.
Victor, a 10-year-old boy, is fascinated with Harry Houdini’s magic tricks. On the date of the visit, Mrs. Houdini tells Victor that Houdini has died and gives him a small locked box inscribed with the initials E.W. Victor throws the box into his closet and never thinks of Houdini again. When his own son is 10, he learns that the letters E.W. were actually Houdini’s initials.
In this nonfiction text, orphaned orangutans are cared for and raised at Camp Leakey on the island of Borneo, including the skills the baby orangs need to eventually return to the rain forest and live as wild apes. Facts about how orangutans are orphaned, being endangered, their diet, behavior, and nesting habits are included as well as details about how the caretakers or “babysitters” manage these loveable babies.
Grade 4 (I-R)
A poor but generous old woman gives two roguish travelers a night’s lodging and a dinner that includes slices of her treasured ham. The two travelers try to steal the rest of the ham in the middle of the night. The old woman is very suspicious of the men, so she watches them all night. She plays a trick on the two travelers by replacing the ham they had put in their travel bag with an adobe brick. After rising in the morning the two travelers were anxious to leave. The old women suggested that they stay for breakfast since it will be a long day of traveling. After leaving, the two travelers joked about the prank that they just played on the old woman. When they sat down to enjoy their stolen goods, they were surprised to see an adobe brick in place of the delicious ham. The moral of the story was honesty prevails.
Justin is upset that he is unable to perform the household chores as well as his sisters, and after his outburst of tears over this fact, his grandpa invites him to visit his ranch. Not only does he see his grandpa doing the same chores, but his grandpa also takes the time to show Justin how he can become better at them, and Justin learns that what matters is that we try to learn and do the best we can in the most enjoyable way.
In the beginning of the story, John Muir doesn’t want to be bothered by a dog and is irritated that Stickeen is even with him much less refusing to listen to him. They go through many trials along their journey while in Alaska. By the end of the story, Muir and Stickeen have developed a trust between each other and have become friends.
In 1934, 12-year-old Kai travels alone by steamship from China to Gold Mountain (United States) to live with his father. When Kai arrives in San Francisco he is detained on Angel Island in crowded barracks with harsh interrogations and the threat of being returned to China, but he endures the endless waiting and is finally reunited with his father in San Francisco.
Koko’s Kitten is the story of Koko, a gorilla, who longs to have a kitten as her “baby." Koko is able to communicate her loving feelings to her trainer, Dr. Patterson and the assistants through sign language. The kitten grows and one day gets hit by a car - this event upsets Koko but after some time, Koko gets another kitten to love and care for.
A young boy, Peter, is hesitant to spend the summer with his great aunt in Chinatown. Peter finds an aging parade dragon in a store and, in restoring it, learns to connect with the dragon and the Chinese community.
The story follows the lives of three new-born wolves over a ten and one half month period. It encompasses the various stages through which the wolves pass: from birth to adulthood. Important concepts such as bonding and societal roles are presented.
The students will learn about the life of Lou Gehrig who was an extraordinary baseball player. Lou Gehrig at the height of his career is diagnosed with a terminal illness. He demonstrates true courage while facing his illness. Even after he could no longer play baseball, he continued to see the bright side of life and be a positive role model in his community.
This play takes place in South Carolina in 1780 during the American Revolution, when a mother and her daughter are going about their daily farm chores when they see an American soldier running from the British. The mother and daughter decide to hide the American soldier from the British and help him return to Charleston, and their help allows the American soldier to warn the Continental Army about the British position.
To keep their only son, Marven, safe from the influenza epidemic, Marven’s parents decide to send their ten year old Jewish son far away to a logging camp filled with French Canadian lumberjacks. He copes with language and cultural differences while he learns his bookkeeping job and makes a wonderful friend.
In this tall tale, Josh McBroom is fighting a drought and giant mosquitoes! His wonderful one acre farm is so dry that the hens are laying fried eggs and the cows are giving powdered milk, but finally, McBroom comes up with an ingenious plan to save the farm.
Major medical discoveries are detailed over time. Diverse individuals, using scientific methods and innovation, determined causes for disease and some developed treatments to address medical mysteries.
Scientists Dr. Roger Payne and Dr. Katherine Payne have discovered that the use of infrasonic sounds is a method of communication used by whales. Using this prior knowledge, Dr. Katherine Payne observes elephants and determines that elephants also use infrasound to communicate.
For as long as she could remember, Jackie Mitchell’s father told Jackie she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked hard at it, including baseball. On April 2, 1931, the famous New York Yankees stopped in Tennessee for an exhibition game against the unknown Chattanooga Lookout baseball team, and Jackie Mitchell, a seventeen-year-old girl, made baseball history by striking out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
This expository nonfiction text is about how living things have adapted traits of mimicry or camouflage to either fool or attract prey or to repel or hide from predators. The author includes multiple examples of adaptations, and there are interesting pictures on every page that depict how living things (animals, insects, plants) are disguised to mimic other living things or camouflage/hide from other living things as either predator or prey.
In this informational text the author describes mountains in different parts of the world. He tells about the effects of erosion on mountains and the effects of mountains on climate.
In this fantasy story, Mrs. Frisby is a mouse that lives with her children in a country garden. When her son, Timothy, becomes ill, she makes a long, treacherous journey to get him medicine, and on her way home with the medicine, she risks her life to save a young crow, who has found himself tangled in a shiny ribbon, from the ferocious farm cat.
In the memoir, Martin’s big sister Christine tells how they grew up during a time when blacks and whites lived separately. Martin’s family set an example of how to stand against injustice and their behaviors and words inspired Martin’s dream.
This personal narrative introduces the genre of a diary to the students. “My Diary from Here to There,” takes the reader on the emotional journey of a little girl named Amada. In hopes of finding new job opportunities, her family is forced to leave the comforts of the familiar and travel to a new country.
More than one Maria in class causes Maria Isabel to worry for weeks about not being in the pageant, when the teacher confuses their names. The teacher asks the students to write an essay themed “My Greatest Wish”, and through this, Maria is finally able to communicate with her teacher how she wants to be called by her real name and participate in the pageant.
As a child, the narrator describes how his magnificent career as an artist was ended at an early age by adults who lacked imagination, since they did not have the imagination to recognize pictures the narrator drew as a child. As an adult, the narrator becomes a pilot and he does not think highly of most adults but hopes someday to meet an adult that is enlightened and has imagination.
In this legend, the author uses the struggles of a poverty stricken boy and his grandmother to show how even in their trials, the decision to do the right thing by helping others proves to be what changes the way of life for the boy and his grandmother. His ability and choice to follow directions given to him is what determines how successful the boy will be.
This lesson was initially created through the Basal Alignment Project and was then further developed by the 4th grade team from Pleasant Valley School in Harrison Township, New Jersey during the Adapting Instructional Materials project.
During World War II, a group of Marines known as Navajo Code Talkers developed a special code to send and receive secret messages. Because of their hard work and sacrifices, Navajo code talkers helped the United States win World War II. Eventually, they were recognized and honored for their contributions.
Puffins raise their young on islands near the ocean, and the young must find their way to the sea for their survival. On the island of Heimaey near Iceland, children and adults join forces to save young pufflings whose misdirected first flight take them to land rather than to sea, and the children take them to the water’s edge to launch them into the ocean for their winter at sea.
In this historical fiction excerpt, Mary and Laura are left to look after their home while Ma and Pa go into town to get supplies for the winter. The girls hear the run-away wagon heading for the creek and see Pa chasing after the wagon, and just as the wagon nears the bank, Pa causes the oxen to swerve, saving Ma and Carrie from plummeting over the bank.
A raja decrees that the villagers must give most of the rice they harvest to him. He promises to store it safely and distribute it in times of famine, but when famine comes, the raja refuses to share the rice, so Rani, a village girl, thinks of a plan to return the rice to the people.
Pedro’s teacher gives a weekend homework assignment that is supposed to be fun for everyone, but Pedro is worried that he doesn’t have anything to do for his cultural heritage project. Through a conversation over dinner Pedro’s Abuelo tells him how exciting his cultural background truly is, and together Pedro, Abuelo, and Pedro’s father go into the attic to rediscover the family’s títeres, puppets, to help create an exciting project.
In this play, a young princess’ refusal to help an elderly woman resulted in her being cursed to live like a frog for many years, and in her search to break the old woman’s spell, the princess frog encounters a viceroy who needs her help. She agrees to help him, and in exchange, he makes a false promise to her just to get what he wants, never intending to keep his promise.
In this play, Red Writing Hood does not like the way her fairy tale ends, so she decides to change the events of her own fairy tale by rewriting them. This worked out so well for her, she decides to change the events in other fairy tales as well, and this has a domino effect for the characters in the stories and the FBI (Fairytale Believers, Incorporated) comes in to correct the changes and informs Red that fairy tales should be left alone.
A Rattlesnake proclaims that he is king of the road, and he terrorizes villagers and refuses to let them pass on the road. The villagers seek the help of the Desert Woman, and with the help of the other animals, she creates the Roadrunner to teach Rattlesnake a lesson.
Grade 4 (S-Z)
The Saguaro Cactus is a giant cactus that grows in the Sonoran Desert. The Sonoran Desert is very hot and dry for most of the year making it a very difficult place for plants to grow. Yet, the Saguaro Cactus not only grows there but is the center of life for many animals.
Like his Aleut ancestors, Alex continues the tradition of catching salmon, during their spawning at Kodiak Island in Alaska, to feed family and friends who are not able to fish for themselves. With Alex’s efforts he then gets to enjoy his favorite Aleut traditional snack, ‘tamuuq’, made from dried halibut.
Anna and Caleb Witting live on a prairie farm with their widowed father who advertises for a wife. Sarah arrives from Maine to visit for a month. The Wittings hope she will overcome her homesickness and become part of their family.
The author describes the life of Jean-Francois Champollion. This selection uses text and graphics together as a vehicle to deepen the reader’s understanding of biography of the French scholar, Jean-Francoise Champollion, who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics and made it possible for scholars to study ancient Egypt.
Dr. Daniel Hale Williams must make the decision to perform a heart operation that could save a patient’s life but could also condemn him in the eyes of the medical community. Although heart surgery was not accepted at the time, he confidently performed the surgery and saved the patient’s life.
Ephram loves to play the violin, and when he discovers that a blind neighbor was once a musician, but stopped playing the piano due to a family tragedy, he encourages the man to return to his music. Each encourages the other, and they perform together at a community concert.
In this story, a family struggles on a prairie farm during a drought. They are forced to make a painful choice when their water soon runs out.
This lesson was initially created through the Basal Alignment Project and was then further developed by the 4th grade team from Pleasant Valley School in Harrison Township, New Jersey during the Adapting Instructional Materials project.
The work of a smokejumper is often difficult and dangerous, but invaluable to the world's forests. This story explains what smokejumpers do and gives information on the training and skills needed for this extreme career.
This biography details the life of Wilson Bentley, a self-taught scientist who photographed thousands of individual snowflakes in order to study their unique formations, and he was determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful.
This informational text details traits and characteristics that different inventors throughout history have demonstrated and how those traits helped them reach their goals.
This story uses a mixture of pictures and words to explore the idea of the changes of the seasons and the expected natural events that occur with it; colder weather, leaves changing color, Jack Frost and migration. Chris Van Allsburg walks a fine line between reality and fantasy to create a mystery about the identity of the stranger who will represent the seasonal change from summer to fall. The Houghton Mifflin authors identify the story’s theme as an allegory for autumn and the use of personification to make the association.
Thomas and his Grandfather share a small house with, their cat and pet duck. One day Thomas’s great-aunt Linzy comes to stay for a while and sets up residence in Thomas’s room. He is unhappy about the changes she makes in their home and his life. Over time, this makes his grandfather unhappy, and Thomas is forced to face his own attitudes and feelings.
Tanya is initially thrilled to be heading early to Grandma’s Virginia family farm for a reunion, but it's not as much fun as she had imagined. When Grandma shares her memories and Tanya discovers an important artifact, Tanya embraces the farm for what was in the past and what is in the present.
Terrence Cheromcka and Martin Jacobs, two Time For Kids reporters, report on two very different organizations that involve children playing an important role in making life better for other children.
With the help of the English-speaking local librarian, Spanish-speaking Tomas is encouraged to assume the role of family storyteller, finding that he cannot only be a learner but a teacher as well.
A timid young boy and a curious elephant face challenges and help each other as they grow into adulthood in a small village near a game reserve in Africa.
TJ takes a trip to Vietnam with his mother to visit his grandparent’s farm. TJ learns a lot about the culture and lives of his Vietnamese family.
In this biography, a young couple, William and Ellen Craft, attempt to escape to freedom from slavery in Georgia. They disguise Ellen as a white man (“Mr. Johnson”) and William acts as “his” male slave, and they face several obstacles on their journey by train. but eventually arrive in Philadelphia, the first stop on the Underground Railroad.
Wildfires can cause damage but also play a critical role in the renewal of forests and grasslands. Through the example of the 1988 Yellowstone fire, Wildfires highlights the effects and cycles of fires and shows the reader how critical fire is to regenerating forests and grasslands.
In this story, several different families from other countries prepare to become US citizens. Characters from different cultures share one exciting and important event.
The pilgrims from England traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of establishing a new colony in North America. The separatists or “saints” had to endure many unforeseen hardships and overcome many challenges along the journey, but after a long uncomfortable voyage, the pilgrims arrived in America and found a place to build a home.
The entire Tex family is involved in the hard work of basket making, preserving a tribal tradition. They gather materials from various locations, prepare them to weave into baskets, and attend the annual California Indian Basket Weavers Gathering.
This informational article is about how TV advertisers intend to persuade viewers to buy products through television advertising. Information about the effectiveness of TV ads, the techniques advertisers use, and how government places some limits on advertisers are included.
Grade 5 (A-I)
The Lewis and Clark expedition explored unmapped territory from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean from 1804-1806. The expedition was hugely successful in large part because of the skills and expertise of York, an enslaved person. Though the expedition team was celebrated and richly rewarded, York received neither recognition nor compensation. It wasn’t until 2001, that York’s achievements were finally honored.
Silversmith Paul Revere takes his famous midnight ride to warn Americans that British soldiers are advancing.
Bob Lemmons, an African American cowboy, uses his skills of reading the land and the horses to imbed himself in a herd of wild mustangs. Once there, he is able to lead the herd back to a corral at the ranch.
Tradition in the Lakota Sioux involves giving a name to a child based on his actions, so a young child who moves slowly in all he does earns the name ‘Slow’ from his family. After demonstrating bravery and determination during battle he then earns a new name, Sitting Bull, and this same man later becomes the respected chief of the Lakota Sioux.
In this story, Carlos and Gloria have been friends since they were young, and Carlos begins to develop feelings for Gloria, so he decides to impress her by catching the skunk that lives in their garden. Carlos finds out the hard way that picking up a skunk by its tail is not the best way to catch it.
After a storm damages their houseboat, Chang’s family finds shelter in a barn that belongs to the family of Mei Mei. Chang was born mute, but the music he plays in private on his flute is as beautiful as any voice, and encouraged by others in his village, he overcomes his fear of playing in public in order to earn the money necessary to replace the wok his mother lost in the storm.
The election for class president of the 5th grade shapes up as a two-way race between Cricket and Lucas, but throughout the course of the story, the students begin to recognize Lucas's friend Julio as a leader, showing the qualities that a class president should have. In the end, the students elect Julio as the class president because of his ability to think about others rather than just himself.
After Bright Morning's tribe is commanded by the Long Knives (the United States soldiers) to leave the canyon that is their home, the tribe decides to flee to the high country leaving behind their homes, livestock, and crops to wait out the soldiers. After a long time passes, the tribe is forced to move on to find food, but they are then surrounded by the Long Knives and led out of the canyon into captivity.
In the story, Nellie Bly wants to break the fictional record of Jules Verne’s character, Phileas Fogg, who traveled around the world in eighty days.
In this tall tale, Davy Crockett lives in the woods where he combs his hair with a rake and shaves his beard with an ax, but Halley’s Comet is hurling towards Earth and the president is trying to stop it, and asks Davy Crockett to help. Davy climbs to the top of the Eagle Eye Peak and jumps on Halley’s Comet and rides it into the Atlantic Ocean, so the water puts the comet’s fire out and Davey hurls it into outer space, becoming an American hero.
The main character, Leigh Botts, has been writing to an author and keeping a journal for several years. He enters a writing contest at school with a story he wrote about his father, who he rarely gets to see, and gets to meet a famous author who encourages him to keep writing.
Mrs. Parks gives advice to students on a variety of issues by answering some of the letters she has received over her lifetime. She embeds her understandings of building character, making a difference in the lives of others, and developing personal character throughout these letters.
This is the story of how 12-year-old Jonathan protects his younger sister, Abby, during an earthquake. Jonathan, Abby, and their dog, Moose, are left on a deserted island while their father takes their mother to the hospital. In seeking protection for himself and Abby, Jonathan recalls what he learned from annual earthquake drills at school.
During the Mexican Revolution, a heroic mother, Elena, struggles to protect her family after her husband dies from an accident, and she feels powerless to act until she encounters Pancho Villa and his soldiers at her door. Elena decides to leave Mexico in order to find a safe place for her family as well as to provide them with an education, so her family can prosper, and takes her family to California for a new life filled with opportunities.
As five children travel through the Florida Everglades by canoe, their guide tells them about the evolution of the landscape and life forms around in the Everglades. The language and illustrations describe the beauty and diversity of the Everglades and how it was ruined by people draining the water and building farms and cities on what used to be the Everglades, and the children are given the charge of restoring the Everglades to its former spectacular natural beauty.
Exploding Ants is an expository non-fiction text that explains how animals adapt to survive in their environment.
This book describes how storm chaser Warren Faidley finds storms and photographs them, as well as how he makes a living off his photography. The second segment is an excerpt from his diary showing what a day of chasing storms is like for him and his crew.
Despite his fear, Doug Grillo must cross a terrifying mountain ledge to find his missing brother.
These tales, from Vietnam, Thailand, and China, all demonstrate how it takes the strengths of many to accomplish goals and make a difference. We can all learn from the struggles and successes of others, and folktales have been used for centuries to teach the values and customs of a culture to children.
Galileo refines the telescope, becomes one of the pioneers of astronomy, and he discovers that the Earth is not a still body around which the sun revolves. This novel idea is unsettling to the Church at the time and because Galileo is punished by the Church, he had to withdraw this idea and never speak of it publicly.
This text depicts how the Westward Expansion left a lasting impact on America. The massive migration of people to the American West during the gold rush required building towns to house people. However, when all the gold and other resources in an area were depleted, the towns were often deserted. These deserted towns were called ghost towns.
Tricia Ann begs her grandmother to be allowed to go to Someplace Special all on her own, and reluctantly, her grandmother agrees, telling her to remember to be proud of who she is. Finally she reaches her destination: Someplace Special – the public library, where everyone is welcome.
In “The Golden Lion Tamarin Comes Home,” the golden lion tamarin’s survival has been threatened by human development. Now, conservationists with the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program have developed programs to reintroduce captive golden lion tamarins into the wild.
In this nonfiction piece, the author shares what he learned about the way of life of grizzly bears after spending a full year in Alaska photographing and studying them. He describes, using anecdotes and photos, how bears behave and interact with their environment and how Grizzlies and other plants and animals depend upon one another for their survival.
Gary Soto writes an autobiography about a time when he was eleven years old, wanting to be a gymnast like his cousin. He thinks it is important that he look like a gymnast. He tries unsuccessfully to teach himself and after several humorous, yet failed attempts, he gives up the idea of becoming an Olympic gymnast.
Seventy-four years ago, Spencer gave his sister Hattie a wooden box as a wedding gift, and though it was empty, told her there was something special in it.Through the years, it became clear that love was the special gift inside the box, and eventually, Hattie brings the box for Spencer’s 100th birthday party.
Before they ever met her, Rory and Derek made a pact not to speak to Bolivia, the new girl in town. After Bolivia orchestrates a neighborhood-wide search for her pet parrot, Lucette, the boys become very excited about the parrot and break their vow of silence.
This nonfiction story presents facts and details about how and where hurricanes are formed, the ways in which people are warned of hurricanes, and tips on how to stay safe during a hurricane.
Dusty Whittemore faces several challenges and below-freezing weather during the Junior Iditarod race in Alaska. Two tangles, a snowmobile collision, and a run-in with a moose are no match for the skill of Dusty and his dog sled team, and they cross the finish line first, a sweet victory that will replace the disappointment of coming in fourth the year before.
In this expository text, the author provides important factual highpoints, influential people, and interesting morsels of information about colonial times before, during, and after the revolution.
In this story, Francisco comes from Mexico to a new school, and he has difficulty understanding the English language and communicating to his other classmates and teacher. He feels isolated and alone except for the relationship with the class caterpillar, and through his unspoken connection with the caterpillar, he learns to come out of his own cocoon and show his drawing talent, which had previously gone unnoticed by his classmates.
Karana is a Native American girl who lived with her people on a rugged island 75 miles off the coast of California. When a friendly ship’s crew came to rescue her people, Karana stayed to be with her brother who was left behind by the ship’s crew, and after he is killed by wild dogs, Karana only had the resources of the island to figure out how to survive.
When the student’s teacher announces that the school will be holding a talent show, the students are all very excited, with the exception of Deon. Deon is certain that he has no talent to be showcased but participates through the help of his teacher. During the talent show, a series of accidents and mishaps occur to Deon and the other performers that could potentially destroy the talent show.
Grade 5 (J-R)
James Forten, a free African American in Philadelphia, joins the United States’ fight for freedom on the high sea. After the Revolutionary War ended, Forten became a business owner and used his wealth to help in the struggle of equality within America.
Internationally known scientist and conservationist Jane Goodall offers ten suggestions for ways we can all help save wildlife. From thinking of animals as individuals to recycling paper and getting involved with animal-rights organization, Goodall suggests simple steps everyone can take.
This story is written from the perspective of Wong Ming-Chung, a young Chinese boy who traveled to America to join his uncle during the California gold rush, and his diary entries describe the day-to-day trials and tribulations they face as Chinese immigrants attempting to “strike it rich” in a foreign land. Not only are they dreaming of finding a better life for themselves but also for their family members in China.
Katie, whose family is Tory, hides in her mother’s wedding trunk to escape Rebel soldiers during the Revolutionary War. In the midst of a raid on Katie’s home, friendship prevails over political beliefs and Katie eludes capture.
At a time when it was unusual for women to travel alone to Alaska, Kate Ryan leaves her home in Canada and travels to the Alaskan frontier. Author Liza Ketchum explains how Kate endures hardships and makes a home and name for herself in the remote Klondike.
Manuel, a fifth grader, feels average and lacks confidence in himself. He has doubts about volunteering for the elementary school talent show, performs anyway, and even though things don’t go as he plans, it actually works out better than his original plan.
“The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam” tells the story of the author’s boyhood in Vietnam and the many challenges of his life there. He also relates important memories about his grandmother that shaped who and what the author has become.
This narrative nonfiction story tells about the completion of a larger-than-life sculpture of a horse that Leonardo da Vinci dreamed of creating.
This autobiography takes place in the 1960’s, when girls were not allowed to play on boys’ baseball teams, so even though Tanya would rather be on the field, she agrees to be a scorekeeper for her brothers’ baseball team. She wants Mark, one of her teammates, to know that she is a good baseball player too, and despite the stereotypes and time period, Tanya shows bravery when she goes with her brothers to play baseball at Mark’s house one day and even hits one of his pitches.
In this story, a young girl shares what it is like to spend time with her grandmother at her home and at her job at the crab chong where she cracks crabs. In spending time with her grandmother, the young girl is able to experience what her grandmother’s life is like.
Throughout her life, Mae Jemison demonstrated perseverance in the pursuit of her childhood dream of becoming a space scientist.
Mahalia Jackson begins with the grandfather sharing the historical underpinnings of the blues, including a brief history of the African experience in early America. From there, the author shifts gears to a factual, though loose biography of Mahalia Jackson.
With the help of her friends and family, Mariah plans a surprise party for her sister Lynn. After many close calls, the party is successful in gathering goods for the shelter and surprising Lynn.
In this tall tale, Josh McBroom is fighting a drought and giant mosquitoes! His wonderful one acre farm is so dry that the hens are laying fried eggs and the cows are giving powdered milk, but finally, McBroom comes up with an ingenious plan to save the farm.
This is an autobiographical account of Michelle Kwan’s rise to figure skating fame. It details her transformation from a novice to an Olympic skater and describes her struggle to become a professional at such a young age.
Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere warned the colonist of an advancing attack by the British army. Revere rode his horse through the night warning every village and town, and the colonists, prepared by Revere's warning, defeated the British forces.
Leslie and her family learn to adjust to life without their mother when she is away training her new dog guide, Ursula, after the passing of their previous guide dog, Marit. When Leslie’s mother and Ursula come home, the family must adjust to having a new member of their family.
In this story, the people of Fatima’s village found a new way of living that replaced old traditions, but despite ridicule, her grandmother continued with the old traditions. An unexpected event forced the villagers to resort back to old traditions and realize their importance and value.
Sam Gribley has been living alone in the woods all summer, but fall has arrived and the fear of winter has forced Sam to think of new ways to survive on his own. Through his survival on his own he has befriended and tamed a falcon, named Frightful, and Sam analyzes other animal’s characteristics to help him figure out how he is going to survive.
In this story, Rache is learning about the shocking history of her family through her Nana Sashie’s story about her family’s escape from Russia when she was just a little girl. The story shared has spanned several late night visits to Nana Sashie’s room and picks up the evening Rache’s father gives the gift of the symbolic samovar to the family.
This is a story of three sisters, Aitza, Amalia, and Evelyn, who enjoy the freedom of playing together in the streets of San Juan, and they have a friend Jose Manuel who is not allowed to play outside because his grandmother thinks it is too dangerous. The girls come up with a plan to ask the grandmother for permission to have Jose Manuel join them on an outing to the beach the Night of San Juan.
This excerpt describes how oceans work: the relationship between the phases of the moon and tides, and the dangers of deadly tidal waves called tsunamis. The author explains clearly, with the help of photographs, charts and illustrations, how and why waves form on a beach.
With Papa away on a cattle drive, fourteen-year-old Travis is in charge of looking after the family homestead on the Texas plains, miles away from the nearest neighbors. All goes well until Little Arliss, Travis’s brother, tries to capture a young bear cub and incurs the wrath of its ferocious mother. Old Yeller plows into the side of the mother bear saving the day.
The story tells us about Josie’s relationship with her great-great-grandma. Josie and her family return to their homeland of Senegal, Africa. As a result of the trip and her experiences, Josie better understands her family, where they come from, and the song that her great-great grandmother sings to her.
While cleaning the schoolyard, Louis accepts a package for Mrs. Jewls. It is very large and heavy, but he carries it up 30 flights of stairs because he likes Mrs. Jewls and her students, and he thinks the package might be important. When Louis finally gives Mrs. Jewls the package, she does something surprising with what’s inside in order to teach a lesson about gravity.
The family of a Japanese diplomat, Mr. Sugihara, living in Lithuania in 1940, is confronted by Jewish refugees asking for Japanese visas to escape the German Nazis. Without his country's permission, Mr. Sugihara issues thousands of visas, and even today, years after his death, Japanese and Jewish families alike honor Mr. Sugihara for his bravery.
“Pioneer Girl” relates the real-life experiences of the McCance family, Nebraska homesteaders in 1885, combining narrative writing with quotes from Grace McCance's memoir, No Time on My Hands. The McCances endure prairie fires, crushing rainstorms and intense loneliness as they learn that optimism and hard work create endless opportunities for their family.
In this excerpt, Brady and his friends don’t demonstrate good judgment when they choose not to warn Mrs. DiAngelo early that morning. Feeling guilty, Brady becomes frustrated and anxious about having to search the small creeks rather than being with the adults. After following the instincts of his dog, Brady finds Benjamin unconscious. Despite his panic, Brady decides to focus his efforts on performing CPR on Benjamin.
Richard moves to a new town and has to make new friends and face the challenge of climbing the rope in gym class. He makes a friend in James, and James helps Richard learn how to climb rope by using a rope that he has at his house, not only learning to climb the rope but also making a friend in the process.
Grade 5 (S-Z)
An African American named Leroy ʺSatchelʺ Paige was one of the greatest baseball pitchers that ever lived, but baseball was a segregated sport, so Satchel played in the Negro Leagues. He could strikeout the best hitters with his unique pitching styles, and even though Satchel found what he was looking for as he started a family, he couldn’t keep away from his only true love— baseball.
Young Louis Armstrong, “Satchmo,” longs to play the horn, but his family has no money for such things. He was inspired to learn to play the coronet by listening to a local New Orleans jazz band. He decides to earn the money himself by doing chores, running errands, and selling items.
Miguel went with his father and brothers on their annual sheep move in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, but some of the sheep got lost during a storm and Miguel wants to help find them. Miguel leaves school and searches around the cliffs, mesa and hills to find the sheep, and at the end of the story, he finds the missing sheep and brings them back home.
The ability to see Earth from space helps scientists to understand both how the planet works and how human activities are affecting the Earth.
In the beginning, Walnut isn't taking the task of using the bow and arrow to shoot the moss seriously, but he must demonstrate his ability to shoot in order to become a man. After learning Walnut has bad vision, Walnut’s mom switches tactics and blindfolds him, then when the tribe convenes, Walnut demonstrates his ability to “see” and is given the name of “Sees Behind Trees.”
This story is an excerpt from a novel. It is about a boy named Marty who wants to save a runaway dog from being abused. He brings the dog home, and Marty and his family become attached to the dog.
This excerpt focuses on a sixteen year old boy, Marcus Ravage, who travels to America (New York) from Romania. He hopes to become rich right away. To his disappointment, he is faced with many challenges. Marcus Ravage is saddened when his aunt pushes him out to peddle on the streets of New York. He begins to earn money and adapt to his new life in America. Later he attends college and becomes a successful writer.
This story is about two boys, “Crazy” Eddie and the narrator, the imaginative contraptions they create, and their wacky adventures. One day, after reassuring Mr. Muldoon, Eddie’s father, that all they were going to do was dig, they actually dig a hole big enough to fit one of Mr. Muldoon’s cows. While they are gone, a skunk falls into the hole. The boys build a ladder, hoping the skunk will climb out of the hole.
9-year old Henry Price tells this story, set in December 1774, six months after King George III had closed the Boston Harbor. He heads to Boston Common to try out his new sled where he finds that the soldiers have taken over the area where he and his siblings normally went sledding, then decides to speak up to General Thomas Gage who listens and provides an area for the children to sled.
The Story of Jumping Mouse is a legend told by the Native Americans of the Great Plains. This is a tale of a compassionate, courageous mouse that has the dream of reaching a far-off land. During his journey he encounters several animals, and though they are discouraging to Jumping Mouse, he maintains hope and in the end, he reaches his goal and is rewarded by becoming a magnificent, soaring eagle.
This article describes the out-of-control fires that took place during the summer of 1988. It focuses on the unpredictable fires of the Yellowstone Region. Firefighters and local communities have developed ways to deal with the forest fires, but the size of these fires made them take another look at their current policy of dealing with forest fires.
A group of fifth grade students interview the first Hispanic American astronaut, Ellen Ochoa. The interview is a question and answer format.
Rose is a child with exceptional abilities: She was able to use scrap iron to construct a thunder bolt, at age 5 she staked a fence, she constructed a skyscraper out of metal and wood blocks, she formed alphabet letters to teach the young ones to read, she made a branding iron with a big M-A-C for MacGruder, and she made a barbed wire fence.
In this article, Mr. Koffi Annan spoke to world leaders on the issue of protecting our environment. He states that since the beginning of time, people have constantly used resources from the Earth for survival, but now it is time for the citizens of the world to conserve the Earth’s resources to improve our standard of living.
A crew of sailors captained by Sir Ernest Shackleton is trying to reach the South Pole’s ice cap when their ship, Endurance, is blocked by the ice and is crushed by moving ice a month later. The crew camps on the ice and then Shack decides they should travel in lifeboats to Elephant Island and from there to the whaling station on South Georgia Island.
The story is presented through the eyes of the authors and goes back and forth between documenting for the reader the events of the most famous shipwreck of all time and how modern technology allows us to learn about these events from the past. By using a mini-submarine, named ‘Alvin’, the authors are able to include actual photographs that illustrate for the reader what the text describes.
In this passage about volcanoes, science writer Seymour Simon explains the characteristics of the different types of volcanoes, and how each type of volcano is created. In addition, the author outlines the chain of scientific events that lead to eruption and the destructive outcomes of that eruption.
Roberto Clemente grew up in Puerto Rico where he discovered a love and passion for baseball, and became a famous Hall of Fame baseball player who shared his success with his family, friends, and the community by always being kind and helping others in need. He died in a plane crash trying to help victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
In this biography, Esther Morris defied odds and with her fierce determination, fought so that women in the state of Wyoming would have the right to vote. Not only did she fight for suffrage, she also applied for and won the position of the City Justice of the Peace.
Schlemiel is a lazy peasant from the town of Chelm with dreams of travelling. Taking a trip to Warsaw, he is tricked into retracing his steps and returning home. However he believes he had found a second Chelm and decides to stay, finding new purpose in life.
This nonfiction narrative is an account of two battles of the Revolutionary War, Trenton and Princeton. American soldiers faced many difficulties during these battles, including lack of supplies and harsh weather conditions, but under the leadership of General George Washington, they persevered and won, and American victories at these battles gave the Americans hope that they could win the rest of the war.
The king wants to fly to distant lands and see the world, so his loyal subjects bring him wings and other flying inventions. In the end, the king learns that only the gift of books satisfies his search for knowledge.
In this narrative, Gary Paulsen describes the relationship, which develops between himself and a dog named “Storm,” the lead dog for his sled team. Storm displays unusual leadership characteristics which are detailed in this reading selection. Storm teaches Gary several lessons about life during the course of their relationship.
When Yinglan Yang is uninterested in American culture after the family’s move from China, her brother and sister plot to change her mind. Brother and Sister put their plan into motion, and it seems to end successfully.
Mary (Yingmei) Yang is often embarrassed by her family’s use of Chinese customs, and she desperately wants to fit in with other American girls. When differences between Chinese and American cultures cause a breakdown in communication, Mary Yang realizes that family is more important than being popular, and with this realization comes the understanding that it is okay to make mistakes while learning the ways of a new culture.
Danny and Walter Budwing are two brothers who don't get along, and one day, when they are home alone, Walter, the elder, chases his little brother out of the house. As they wrestle they catch sight of a board game called “Zathura”, and when they decide to play it, Zathura transports the Budwings' home into outer space, where the strange events the game produces become delightfully bizarre.
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