The Truth About Twinkie Pie


  • Written by: Kat Yeh
  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730 
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (January 27, 2015)

Summary:  Twelve year Old GiGi has just moved to a new school. Having always been the brainiac, she decides to search for her own identity and change things up a bit. She’s got cool new friends, a cute boy who sends her notes everyday, and an awesome older sister. It seems that the only thing that is missing is her mother, who died in a fire, when GiGi was very young. Her sister and her emulate their mother through cooking her recipes, and talking about the discontinued favorite lipstick of their deceased mother. Things take a turn, when GiGi discovers that someone, with her mothers name, ordered the lipstick, to the town GiGi was born in. Could it be that her mother is not really dead? Will GiGi get the guy? and can she find herself enough to let go of the past? 

5 keywords: Fiction, Middle Grade, Novel, Juvenile Fiction, Coming-of-Age 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.3.B
Use dialogue and descriptions of actions, thoughts, and feelings to develop experiences and events or show the response of characters to situations.

Suggested Delivery: Read-a-loud/Individual 

Electronic Resources: In this video the author, Kat Yeh, discusses where her inspiration for the book came from. It would be best to use this resource after reading and after the writing prompt has been assigned. This video can give students the inspiration on how to be a writer and write something worth reading. 

This is fun resource that can be used after reading the story. It is a video on how to make twinkie pie. While it may seem frivoulous, this video can give an oral representation of how to follow a recipe. This will aid when the students have to write their own recipe.

Teaching Guide:

Website: This is Kat Yeh’s website, where she has a blog, some teaching guides and information about her start in writing. This is a great resource for students and teachers to look at.

Key Vocabulary: 

Pronouncement – Official public statement 

Guffaw – To laugh loudly 

Good-natured – Friendly, pleasant and happy

Astronomer – Someone who studies space 

Articulate – To express thoughts clearly in writing of speech

Presume – To believe something is true without proof that it is true 

Salutations – To greet someone 

Alias – Otherwise known as… a person or something with two names 

Tussle – A fight with pushing and shoving 

Burgeoning – To grow quickly 

Bated Breath – Nervously awaiting an answer 

Delirious – Not able to talk clearly because you are sick 

Raspy – A rough, harsh sound

Preposterous – Very silly

Before: Prior to reading, if doing an individual read, go through the first three chapters together. The first few are packed with information and are written very fast. It is also important to increase the students comprehension of this text by reading the few chapters aloud, so that the student can begin to understand the authors voice. 

The author also sets her chapters up in a unique way. They all include a flashback, or commentary about a recipe, in the head of GiGi. The chapters are followed by a recipe that relates to the chapter just read. This format will be very different than what students have ever read before, so it is important to help them read through the first few. 

During: While reading students should annotate their book. Give students some sticky notes/and if possible a pen/highlighter. It is important to have different mediums with annotations. For instance, a pen to write notes, and stickies for questions and unknown vocabulary. Their annotations should be focused on these things and emotions of GiGi. These will help students question what they read, as well as building upon inferences in text and how to include inferences in their own writing. 

After: Show the students the two Youtube videos. These should help students with inspiration for their writing prompts and recipes. These will model how to effectively write and follow a recipe and how to get ideas for their chapters they will be drafting, and writing. 

Writing Activity: The students will be asked to write a short chapter in a story that models after the chapters in The Truth About Twinkie Pie. Their chapter should include a reference to food, with a relevant title of the recipe. For example, if they write a chapter about fighting with their parents they should include a memory of a food while they are fighting, the food would aptly be named, Pull Apart Family Bread, or How to Kiss and Make Up Pork Chops. While students may not know how to cook all too well, their homework for this assignment is to go home and either look through cookbooks, go to the library (they can check out books from the school library during special), or look online for recipes of what they would like to make. They are NOT permitted to steal a recipe. It should include their own methods to cook it, as some of the ingredients as well. Student’s recipes should resemble GiGi’s way of writing a recipe where she describes emotions that are felt while making it. 

This activity touches upon literal and inferential comprehension. Literal, as they have to be able to read and write their own chapter and recipes. They will have to look through many in order to find a combination that they think will fit the title of their recipe. Students also have inferential comprehension happening, as they have to think about emotions in their own story, reflect on those different emotions and how they correspond to some of GiGi’s recipes. If they are writing a happy chapter, they wouldn’t have their recipe be Break-up Brussel Sprouts. Their chapter would correspond to happy food (not that brussel sprouts aren’t a happy food!), they would have something else. Thinking about the tone of their chapter, corresponding this to a recipe, with a corresponding title and emotional notes in their recipe has the students call upon inferences in their writing. 

BONUS: Continue this into math! Have students bring in their recipes with the amounts of ingredients. Ask them to cut them in half, in fourths, in tenths, so they begin to understand how to make less of a serving, and how fractions work. 


March: Book One



  • Written by: John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
  • Illustrated by: Nate Powell
  • Series: March (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions; 1st edition (August 13, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • Lexile Level: GN760L
  • Guided Reading: W

Summary: Congressman John Lewis depicts the beginning of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He describes growing up, and realizing how differently black people were treated in the south, where he grew up. As an older child he overheard Dr. King on the radio and felt inspired by his speech. When he was in the middle of his formal education, Brown v. Board of Ed was ruled unconstitutional, and he went to an integrated school. At this time, other things were happening in history that set off the chain of events for him to become involved with the Civil Rights Movement, at the perfect time. This graphic novel is gripping and brings dozens of emotions to an empathetic reader’s open mind.

5 keywords: Graphic Novel, Historical, Fiction, True-story, Civil Rights Movement

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

Suggested Delivery: Read-a-Loud online/projector to see illustrations.

Electronic Resources: This video is a book trailer for the graphic novel, it is a great pre-reading activity, as it shows real examples of what students will be reading.

This video is very informative on how to read graphic novels. This should be used as a pre-reading activity, as it will help students read March. 

Website: On this website, you can enter your email address for the official teaching guide. It has wonderful literal and inferential comprehensions questions, as well as facts about the author. Studying John Lewis is one of the most prominent Civil Rights Movement Figures in current history, and for this author specifically there is a lot to learn.

Teaching Guide: This teaching guide is broken down into different categories for how you would like to teach this book. For instance, it has suggestions for Literacy, culture and historical investigation.

Key Vocabulary:

Incubator – A device that keeps eggs warm until they are ready to hatch

Comprehend – To be able to understand something

Merciful – To treat people with kindness and forgiveness

Instigator – To cause something to happen

Dehumanize – When you treat someone who is human as though they are not human

Protest – To express a strong disagreement with something or someone

Misjudged – To have an unfair opinion about someone

Painstakingly – Done with great effort

Eulogy – A speech for someone who has died

Scold – To speak critically to someone

File Suit – Take legal action against them

Moratorium – A time when a particular activity is not allowed

Reputation – A common opinion people have about someone

Biracial – Involving people of two races

Irate – Very angry

Bias – The tendency to have a wrong opinion about someone or something, and then treating them unfairly based on this wrong assumption

Bigot – A person who unfairly treats people

Prestige – The respect a person gets for being important

Before: Prior to reading the story have the students learn how to read graphic novels by watching the Youtube video. This will help them understand how the pages and illustrations are formatted on the page, so they can spend less time figuring out how to read it, and more time understanding the text and illustrations.

Teach a lesson on the Civil Rights Movement. Set the scene for how John Lewis entered the Civil Rights Movement at a very vital time., this video shows sit ins and what it was like for those that participated in these sit ins.

During: Have a discussion about Page 97. Ask the students if they could follow these rules. For what would they adhere to these rules for? Are there current day examples of social injustices?

Discuss Emmett Till. Ask if they know anything about him, or his influence on the Civil Rights Movement. Explain his open casket, and how he was brutally murdered (obviously adjust this to the age group). Build schema and connections to this and the book. Explain why Emmett Till’s murder got so much attention (Northerners were shocked, as lynchings were normally not covered by national news outlets because they were normal in the South, so his murder was brought back to Chicago where people were astounded).

After: Have students discuss the authors use of hyperbole, similes, and idioms in this text. There are examples on page, 38, 42, 53, 56, 98, 101, and 109. Have them write the sentence and phrase and break it down. What is the author trying to say? What is the page talking about (context)? What could this mean? What are the possible words that I could change for this one? Try out those words and see what fits. To help students who may need extra support, read the passages to them using intonation so that it is easier to decipher.

Writing Activity: Writing prompt:

Why do you think that certain government officials did not want to pass laws on desegregation? What clues from the novel back up your statements? Do you think they acted this way do to personal beliefs or societal beliefs, or both?


The War That Saved My Life


  • Written by: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • Age Range: 9 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0580
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (May 31, 2016)

Summary: Ada was born with a physical deformity of her foot, and her mother treats her as though it was her fault. She hits and emotionally abuses Ada, while keeping her locked in their apartment in London. When World War II breaks out, Ada and her younger brother, Jamie, escape out of the city in order to avoid the war. They are placed with Susan Smith, a childless woman, who believes she cannot take care of children. Through their new lives Ada realizes all of the things that she missed out on, while trapped in her mothers abusive trap. She learns about herself, her foot, her fears, and her talents. What will happen when the War ends though? Which world will she be forced to survive in, her past or her future?  

5 keywords: Historical Fiction, Heroism, Abroad, World War II, Middle Grade Novel. 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

Suggested Delivery: Class read-a-loud 

Electronic Resources: This video would be great as a pre-reading activity for the novel. Not only is it a great way to get the students ready to read this book but it gets them motivated to do so.

This video is of Winston Churchill’s speech, in regards to the War, and British motivation. This can be used towards the end of the book as the story is becoming more War centered. Part of his speech is mentioned in the book. At that part pause and show this clip. Speeches are written for the public but the time period of this speech may make it hard to comprehend all of it. Explain the background of this speech and its significance to students. Even better, ask them why they think this speech was made, in light of what they have read. What is the significance to this speech and how did it impact Ada as she heard it? 

Teaching Guide: I LOVE this teaching guide by Penguin Random House. Not only does it have literal/inferential questions, but they are organized by pages for the teacher, and they include text to self, text to world, schema and vocabulary rich questions. This guide also included an author Q and A which is highly informative.

Website: Here is a blog written about the publishing of The War That Saved My Life, written by the author. It gives a great discussion to the publishing process and serves as a lesson to students that their work is never complete, it’s just due.

Key Vocabulary: 

Imp – A child who causes trouble in a funny way

Walloped – To hit someone/something hard 

Loo – Bathroom 

Shabbiest – In poor condition

Indeterminate – When you can’t describe something with fact – The kids did not know how old they truly are 

Imprudent – Not wise 

Inquire – To ask

Malnourished – Not eating enough 

Successfully Resolved – The problem went away without an issue 

Gullet – Tube that leads from mouth to stomach (esophagus)

Chilblains – Painful and red swelling on the feet, usually caused by the cold

Sonorous – A sound that is deep, loud and sounds good

Asylum – A hospital for the mentally ill

Educable – Can be educated

Negligent – Failure to take care of something/someone 

Affront – Formal

Curmudgeon – An old person who is easily annoyed 

Standoffish – Not friendly towards other people

Mollified – To calm someone down 

Cajoled – To persuade someone to do something 

Before: Prior to reading this book, complete a pre-assessment to World War II. This will be done in a true/false answer sheet. 

T/F Children and families were separated during WWII.

T/F Before WWII children were not required to go to school.

T/F World War II did not have any impacts on England.

T/F People had to ration, or eat their food slowly during wartime. 

T/F The radio was the best way to get information during WWII.

T/F Many spies worked for the governments of England, Germany and the US during WWII.

T/F It was common to live with people other than your parents during this time. 

T/F World War II started in 1939.

T/F Hitler was the Prime Minister of England. 

Based on the answers to these, scaffold the students accordingly. They will need a lot of this background information while the text is read. This can happen prior to reading or while the parts that are relevant to these questions comes up. 

During: While reading The War That Saved My Life use the text as a model. Have mini lessons and quick writes as you read the story. Some example prompts could be – At the end of chapter 24, what would you do if you had broken someones things? 

When Ada’s mom comes to get her – What do you think Ada is going to do and why? 

When Ada runs away and has trouble walking – Do you think that Ada has the stamina to make it to a safe place? 

Ada goes into her head – Why do you think Ada does this? Have you ever done this? 

If you were Mam, would you have given Ada the surgery? Why or why not. If not, why do you feel you would not get her surgery? 

After: Ask the students to reflect on the story. Have a discussion as to what they are taking away from this story.What would they do if they were in Ada’s situation? How would they feel? Have a discussion about the bad ways in which Ada was treated, in regards to her foot, and examples of when she was treated kindly. Teach children from what they observed in the text to greet and treat people who may have deformities or physical aliments. Text to self – do they relate to the characters/story in any way? Text to text – have they read any other stories where similar things happened? 

Writing Activity: Taking from the Penguin Random House reading guide, use the prompt for after reading activities. Ask the students to write a letter from the perspective of either Ada, Jamie, or Susan. The audience of the letter is Mam. Discuss active and passive voice, and tone with the students. Obviously their tone, attitudes and judgments of Mam will be different depending on the character they choose. Their letter must include an introduction, or explanation for why they are writing that letter. They should have a few body paragraphs which explain their situation and current life circumstances. This will show literal comprehension, as the students have to remember setting, characters, events and conversations. This activity also includes inferential comprehension because it asks the reader to put on the voice of a character, which means they have to interpret personality, temperament, and tone of voice, which is highly inferential. 

Mr. Lemonchello’s Library Olympics


  • Written by: Chris Grabenstein
  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0780
  • Series: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (January 5, 2016)

Summary: Seventh grader, Kyle Keeley, has lived his whole life without a town library. For the past twelve years one has been in the works, made by a mysterious billionaire. The secretive rich guy, turns out to be Mr. Lemoncello, the worlds most famous game inventor. As expected, his library is not just a home for books, but also a place of games. 12 of the students from Kyle’s grade are selected to stay the night in the library, but when they wake up in the morning, the biggest game Mr. Lemoncello has ever been apart of ensues. Kyle quickly learns that he must work with his classmates, in order to get out of the most eccentric library in the world.

5 keywords: Fiction, Interactive Story, Middle Grade Reader, Adventurous, Chapter Book. 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.9
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Suggested Delivery: Independent read. 

Electronic Resources: Use this prior to reading the book, to help students get a preface to the story.’s Library

These are comprehension questions that go chapter by chapter. Have the students use these as they read to evaluate their own comprehension of the story, as if they cannot answer these, then they need change something.


This is the authors website, where there are interviews, discussion guides and puzzles for students and teachers to utilize.

Teaching guide – My favorite part about this teaching guide is the speaking and listening section. It can be hard to find a reading guide that focuses on this, but it is an essential part of ELA!

Key Vocabulary: 

Stealthy – Quiet and secret

Rotunda – A large room with a dome

Corinthian – Ancient Greece

Mammoth – Something that is very large

Book Repository – Where large amounts of books are stored

Athenaeum – Library

Indubitably – Certain to be true

Eccentric – When someone is strange or unique

Rebus – A puzzle made up of pictures, symbols and letters that created a word or phrase

Ornithologist – Someone who studies birds

Juggernaut – Something that is so powerful it cannot be stopped

Loblolly  – A type of pine tree that is a source of timber

Before: Prior to reading, have the student read through some reviews of this book. Ask them to make predictions about the story, and as they read have them self-reflect.

During: While reading, have the student come up with questions for the author, Chris Grabenstein. These should be questions that do not have yes or no answers, and should be thoughtfully put together.

After: After reading the story, have the student write a prediction about what they think the next book in this series will be like. How will the author continue to challenge the characters? How have these characters change from the beginning to ending of this book? How will they change in the next story? They should conclude this activity by asking questions about the book. 

Writing Activity: Have the student make rebus’s to summarize the story. The whole summary can be done like this, or a few phrase of words in each sentence. Students are recalling literal information as they do this, as well as thinking creatively to write about it. If they have read and understood the rebus’s present in the book then they will also be able to come up with a few themselves.

After Tupac and D Foster


  • Written by: Jacqueline Woodson 
  • Grade Level: 4.6
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English

Summary: A story of two African American girls coming of age, in Queens, in the middle of the 1990s. Taking place a few months before legendary rapper Tupac Shakur is shot the first time, and after he is fatally shot over a year later, the girls meet D. She is their best friend, but also a stranger, as they don’t know many details of her past. The girls bond, as they are thrown into the throngs of puberty and as they become cognizant of the world around them. They begin to see the hatred and injustice that is the world, and they begin to relate to Tupac more and more.

5 keywords: Fiction, Diversity, Middle Grade Reader, Coming of Age, African American Literature 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.9.A
Apply grade 6 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres [e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories] in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics”).

Suggested Delivery: Read together as a class.

Electronic Resources: Tupac “If My Homie Calls,” use after the book is read.

Use this original MTV tribute of Tupac’s Death prior to reading the book. This will help students understand the time period, context and give background to the emotional connection Black Americans had to Tupac. 

How did Black Americans feel about Tupac’s Death? How did Jaqueline feel?

What did Tupac mean to people? Do you have a musician that means this much to you?

Why are celebrities so important to American culture?

Website: This is the authors website, where more information about the author can be found.

Teaching guide  – This teaching guide is provided by Penguin Publishing. It has great discussion questions for you to use for free!

Key Vocabulary: 

Gangsta – Member of a street gang or a person who performs gangsta rap music

Wannabe – A person who wants to be like someone else and dresses and acts like that person

Peeps – Friends

Bootleg – Illegally copy or record a movie or music

Relevant – When something relates to a subject perfectly

Vague – Not clear

Psychosis – A very serious mental illness that affects everyday functioning

Clarify – To explain something so well it makes it clear

Silos – A tower that is used to store food

Acting the fool – acting like an idiot

Before: Prior to reading this story, use the electronic resources to build on schema of this time period. Ask students what they know about New York, Queens, Tupac, the foster care system, the school to prison pipeline. If they do not seem to know anything about the school to prison pipeline, or about racial disparity in prisons, ask them to think about the phrase itself and build upon that.

During: During the reading of this book, have students pause for certain words. Especially in the beginning as students are getting used to the narrators voice, and tone. There is a lot of dialect specific terms in this book, and pausing to clarify will increase comprehension. Also, throughout reading, ask students about any connections they have to music artists, artists, and writers that the girls have to Tupac.

After: After reading this story, ask students about their thoughts on it. How do they relate to the characters, and how are they different. Ask the students what socioeconomic class the girls came from, as there are many clues that point to a middle class upbringing for Neeka and the narrator. Discuss if they are seen as this class outside of their neighborhood. Ask them how this impacts the girls lives, and the other characters in the book, such as Tash.

Writing Activity: Have students analyze Tupac’s (clean) song lyrics and write an essay about how it compares to the story of D Foster and the girls. By comparing the song lyrics and the story together the students will show their literal and at times inferential comprehension of the plot and details about the text. This can also help the students understand why the author chose to have Tupac as the artist that relates to D so much.

To build on this, have students write a letter to their favorite band or musician. Have them tell the artist about this book and why it was impactful. Students should include how Neeka felt about Tupac, and connect it to their own love of the musician they are writing to. Students will build text to self and world connections, as they gain an understanding of the character. This will touch upon literal and inferential comprehension, as it asks students to draw from their own emotions, while realizing how Neeka felt, as well as asking for a relevance to what they directly read. 

Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem


  • Written by: Rosalyn Schanzer (Author)
  • Grade level: 4-8
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books; 1 edition (September 13, 2011)

Summary: This is a brief history of the Salem Witch Trials. The story focuses on many of the victims who were accused rather than those that accused them, as this is sometimes portrayed more. There is a big emphasis on the legal proceedings of these trials, which slyly points out basic legal errors, while not undermining the people who made these decisions, as witchcraft was entirely believable at the time. This book will help students of all ages make sense of what happened in Salem all those years ago.

5 keywords: Historical Non-Fiction, Women’s History, New England History, Colonial History, Controversial History, Witch History. 

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

Suggested Delivery: For younger grades, read-a-loud, so words and challenging passages can be clarified, for older students this can be done alone.

Electronic Resources: This book trailer narrated by the author, is a great pre-reading activity to peak interest to read this story, as the illustrations and the suspense of this trailer make it a must read!

Teaching guide – The author provides many lesson plans on her website. The pre and post witch activity would be great to use obviously prior and the latter part after the story is read. My personal favorite is the pre-reading activity which has true and false statements about witches. This is a great way to see how children view witches, and what their schema consists of.

Website: This website has a ton of resources on the Salem Witch Trials. I especially love the video because it really illustrates what life was like in 160os.

Key Vocabulary:

Afflicted – To cause pain

Bewitched – To put someone under a spell

Earnest – serious

Incrimination – When someone appears to have committed a crime

False accusation – To accuse someone of something they did not do

Cantankerous – Angry and annoyed

Piene Forte et Dure – Hard and forceful punishment

Opposition – Disagreeing with someone through thoughts or actions

Gallows – Structure used to hang someone

Testify – Promising that the answers to the questions you are asked are true

Tangible evidence – Easily seen proof

Before: Administer the pre-assessment to see what students know about witches. They may know a thing or two about the witch trials, but they may have modern socially portrayed assumptions of witches riding on broom sticks.

Depending on the grade and maturity level of students, vocabulary should also be reviewed. A word list of definitions can be given to students with cognitive disabilities or for younger grade levels to use as a resource as they read.

Invite local author and historian Cynthia Wolfe Boynton to give a lesson on the Connecticut Witch Trials, (these happened almost 40 years before Salem)! She gives an amazing lecture on the CT Trials and how there are many gender implications to accusations of witches. Many of the accused in CT were women who had inherited money and were single, as at this time this was rare and frowned upon. The author can answer many questions that students have about witches in general as well. This can also open a compare and contrast discussion on the CT Trials and the Salem Trials. Furthermore, tying these trials to something much more local gives the students a better understanding of the trials.

During: While reading the story have students reflect on their pre assessments. Have their views of witches changed? How do witches show their magical powers? In Salem are witches good or are they all evil? As they reflect on what they previously answered to questions such as these, they will build more of a schema of the story and be able to comprehend more as they read, or you can intervene and clarify if they are not comprehending.

After: Once reading has ended students should complete the post reading activity. There should also be a class discussion about the trials and thoughts and feelings about the trials themselves and the book should be shared.

Writing Activity: Have students work in groups of 5-8 on writing a play about the trials. This can be done one of two ways, have each group assigned a different part of the book, or have all of the groups chose an accused person and make their trial into a play. This will build upon inferential and literal comprehension, as students will have to understand the basics of the scenes to write about them (literal), and they will have to use intonation, emotion and body language as they act out and write character lines, which were not included in the story (inferential).

The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus


  • Written by: Jen Bryant 
  • Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet 
  • Age Range: 7 – 18 years
  • Grade Level: 2 – 5
  • Lexile Measure: 590
  • Hardcover: 42 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (September 15, 2014)

Summary: Roget and His Thesaurus is the story about Peter Roget and his invention of the thesaurus. The story describes his life growing up, constantly making lists. As Peter becomes a man he studies to be a doctor, but he never gives up on making his lists. He publishes his book, and it becomes wildly popular, as Roget did not want his book to be only for scholars, but for everyone’s use. Roget changed literature forever, by creating word categories and synonyms for everyone to use as they write.

Keywords: Splendid, informational, cheery, organized, quirky.

Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

Suggested Delivery: Read-A-Loud

Electronic Resources: Pre: Here is a copy of Roget’s original thesaurus’s!:

Post: This link shows how Melissa Sweet illustrated the story. This is a really great resource to show how book illustrations are made, and is just a fun thing to show your class!

Website: Use this video before reading the story: 

Teaching Guide – I love Jen Bryant’s teaching guide! It is organized by discussion questions and activities, so while you have to choose which activity belongs where, you get the freedom to decide and interpret.

Key Vocabulary: Clattered

Tutor – Teacher who works with one student

Peppered – To put something in many places

Dandy – Very good/fine

Splendid – Great/wonderful

Wander – To move around to different places

Fret – Worry

Intrude – To go to a place you are not welcome

Despair – Losing hope

Badger – To bother someone with questions

Annoy – Making someone slightly angry

Plague – Large number of harmful things

Provoke – To make something happen

Harass – To constantly bother someone

Drive one mad – Annoy someone

Orderly – Very organized in a specific way

Lecture – A talk about a subject that teaches people about it

Concisely – Using as little words as possible

Clarity – To make something clear

Conviction – Proving someone guilty of a crime

Kindred – Alike or similar

Maiden – Young woman who is not married

Smitten – In love with someone

Before: Before showing students the youtube video, and the picture of Roget’s original thesaurus, describe to students what a thesaurus is. Concisely show students how to use a thesaurus, by modeling. Have students give you some word suggestions and you can flip to that word and read the synonyms. Teaching students to use a thesaurus is imperative to their writing. Strong writers use a variety of words that fit what they are trying to express in their writing. 

During: During the reading, ask students to think of other words that they can think of at the parts in the story where the synonyms are used for wedding, family, bother, and fine. This will enforce literal comprehension of the text, by enforcing students understanding of different words having similar meaning and tone.

After: Using word webs with different synonyms and definitions will help build schema of word sorting and literal comprehension and how to use a thesaurus. 

Writing Activity: Have students write a summary about the story. When they have completed this, have them circle ten words, that they must then use a thesaurus to find an alternative “right” word that would best fit. After this they should write why it is important to use a thesaurus, and have a discussion about the reasons why. This builds on more literal comprehension of the text and how to use the tools presented, but inferential comprehension can also be built into this lesson.