Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Series Reviews - Character/Citizenship

Our ULS unit this month is all about making good choices and being good citizens. I always like to supplement the unit stories (which are very dry and boring, usually) with other books related to the topic/theme, of course.

But I've blogged before about how difficult it is to select appropriate books for my students. I have a wide range of cognitive abilities in my class (my higher students can comprehend chapter books, while my lower students can only attend to simple preschool-level picture books) - but all are very aware of subjects, text and pictures that are way below their chronological/social age levels. They all, across the board, will reject something that is perceived as too "babyish" or for little kids. (They are all pre-teens and teens, in age.) This is, perhaps obviously, difficult when selecting picture books (which I use for whole-class lessons/activities, like the books I read in morning circle).

I put two book series on hold through my library and the first few books were available for me to pick up today. Because of the above issues, ordering books through the library, unseen, is sometimes quite hit and miss. These were quite an exception! I can definitely recommend both series and am excited to bring them to my classroom tomorrow!

The first series (and my favorite of the two) is the "Way to Be!" series published by Picture Window Books. Each book is titled "Being __________," such as "Being Fair," "Being Trustworthy," etc.
One of the books I got from this series is "Being Responsible: A Book About Responsibility" by Mary Small. Each two-page spread has a fun illustration and text about people doing specific things that are responsible, such as returning library books on time, wearing a helmet while riding a bike, getting ready so you can catch the bus in time, etc.
At the back of the book there is a list of other titles having to do with the particular characteristic.

The other series is the Acorn Citizenship series. Again, the titles are "Being ______________."
One of the books I got from this series is "Being Helpful" by Cassie Mayer. Each two-page spread has illustrations and simple text about different things you can do to be helpful (wash dishes, follow instructions, watch a younger sibling, etc.).
The second to last page asks the reader what they can do to be helpful. The last page shows an illustration, and asks the reader how the person is being helpful.

Books in both these series have simple, predictable, repetitive text that isn't too juvenile. The illustrations are likewise appropriate for younger and older children. My lower students will be able to attend to/comprehend the books and enjoy the pictures, and my higher students will be able to make observations, make text to self connections, answer questions, think of their own applications, etc. The books would definitely be appropriate for a wide age/grade/cognitive range.

(Disclaimer stuff: I didn't get anything for these reviews and I wasn't asked to do them; these are just some library books I picked up and thought were great, all on my own.)


  1. Thanks for posting! We are also using ULS and are learning about "good choices". I can't say I am against Ann not wanting to wake up in the morning. :)

    I like the idea of using books to supplement. I use the voice with ULS sometimes and it sounds like a drunk robot! My kids love it but I can't handle it! LOL

  2. Thanks for posting this! Our school foundation is funding some books for classroom libraries and your post was exactly what I needed. These look great for my students.

  3. That second book looks really good! High school appropriate and yet still really simple. Thanks for sharing these!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing! It seems difficult to find good "helpful" books like those mentioned anymore. Please check out my blog when you have time @ ElementarySpecialEducation.Org


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