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Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Published October 3rd, 2017 by Chronicle

Summary: In this heartwarming sequel to Laurel Snyder’s beginning chapter book Charlie & Mouse, the two brothers enjoy a special visit from their grandpa, Grumpy. Follow along as they discuss being medium, pounce each other, sing the wrong songs, build blanket forts, and more. Paired with effervescent illustrations by Emily Hughes, this touching, funny celebration of imagination and bonding will enchant readers young and old.

View our post about Charlie and Grumpy book one (with teaching guide) here!

Activities include: 

Bedtime Songs

Grumpy doesn’t know the right bedtime song to sing for Charlie and Mouse, so he tries to guess. Using the clues he gave, we can assume he was talking about “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell, “Hush, Little Baby,” and possibly “Jump in the River” by Sinead O’Connor. Play these three songs for your students.

  • Which do you like the most? Why?
  • Which do you think would be the best bedtime song? Why?

After Grumpy guesses, Charlie sings the right bedtime song to Grumpy.

  • We don’t know what song Charlie sang, but what song would you have sung to Grumpy?

After gathering all of the bedtime songs discussed as a group, have students analyze the different songs (theirs and the three Grumpy mentioned) by having them (in groups or independently):

  • Identify rhyming words within the songs.
  • Does the author repeat any words? Why did the author choose to repeat these words?
  • How does the author supply rhythm in the song?


There are a few times in the book that the text doesn’t tell you what happened, but you can infer from the illustrations what occurred such as p. 17, p. 27, and p.37. Have students use the illustrations to see how each of these chapters concluded and have them write out what they see in the illustrations.


In the final chapter, it is raining while Charlie and Mouse say good-bye to Grumpy. Even though the rain seems to be happening because of the mood of the chapter, rain actually occurs because of the water cycle. After discussing the mood of the chapter (see discussion question), share the scientific reason for rain by sharing the water cycle. One activity that could be done to help students understand the water cycle is the “Simple Water Cycle in a Bag” experiment:

Discussion Questions include: 

  • The text never says that Grumpy is Charlie and Mouse’s grandfather, but you can infer he is. What clues from the text and illustration help you know that he is their grandfather?
  • In the final chapter, the author chose to have it be raining. Why does this type of weather make the most sense for this final chapter? What mood does it set for the chapter?
  • Using the clues throughout the book, how many days and nights did Grumpy stay with Charlie and Mouse? How did you know?

Teaching Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

You can also access the teaching guide through Chronicle’s website here.

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands
Author: Susan Goldman Rubin
Published November 7th, 2017 by Chronicle

Summary: In the tradition of DELICIOUS, WIDENESS & WONDER, and EVERYBODY PAINTS!, this is Susan Goldman Rubin’s extensively researched and very accessible biography of civic activist Maya Lin, most famous for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one of the most famous pieces of civic architecture in the world. But most people are not as familiar with the reserved college student who entered and won the design competition to build it. This accessible biography tells the story of Maya Lin, from her struggle to stick with her vision of the memorial to the wide variety of works she has created since then. Illustrated extensively with photos and drawings, the carefully researched text crosses multiple interests–American history, civic activism, art history, and cultural diversity–and offers a timely celebration of the memorial’s 35th anniversary, as well as contributing to the current, important discussion of the role of women and minorities in American society.

Activities include: 


  • Building Historical and Scientific Background Knowledge: To better understand much of Maya Lin’s extensive work, background knowledge of certain historical and scientific events are needed. Before reading Maya Lin’s biography, separate the class into five groups and assign each group one of these events:
    1. Vietnam War
    2. Civil Rights Movement
    3. Chinese-American Immigration
    4. Endangered and threatened animals
    5. Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the effect on the Indigenous People of Washington State

    Have each group create a timeline using an interactive timeline creator that showcases their event chronologically.  Within the timeline, the students should not only have important dates but they should incorporate visuals, the impact of each event on history/science, and any other supplemental information/media that will increase the knowledge of their event.

    Students then will present their timelines to their classmates to allow for all students to possess knowledge of all five historical and scientific events before beginning Maya Lin’s biography.


  • Symbolism: Unlike traditional minimalists, Maya Lin uses symbolism in her work. Begin with working with students on symbolism within familiar stories they know. Show students What is Symbolism? at then read the Story of William Tell ( and discuss what the apple symbolizes. After this discussion tell students that symbolism in art is the same–symbolism is when a piece of art or an aspect of a piece of art represents something more than its literal meaning.Then, have students analyze her pieces of work for symbols within them. Students should then create a symbolism T-chart showing their found symbolism.Some examples:
    The ark shape of the Riggio-Lynch Chapel Symbolizes that the chapel is a safe place just as Noah’s Ark was.
    The water on the Civil Rights memorial Symbolizes the justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream mentioned in “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Cumulative Writing Assignment: Legacy
    Maya Lin states, “You need to see me whole as an artist. What I’m doing is art, architecture, and memorials.” Have students write an informative essay explaining how Lin has fulfilled her legacy as an artist, architect, and memorial designer. Have students use evidence from the text, as well as other provided resources if you choose, to support their claim.Other resources:

Discussion Questions include: 

  • From a young age, Maya Lin did not like the color red. Why does she not like the color red? What does red represent to her? The color red was included in the Museum of Chinese in America, however. Why was the color included in this project even though Maya Lin does not like it?
  • After completing the Vietnam War Memorial, Lin felt like she was boxed in as a “monument designer,” and refused many invitations to complete more memorials. Why do you think the Civil Rights Memorial was the work that she finally agreed to complete?
  • Maya Lin’s message of sustainability (avoiding the depletion of natural resources to maintain a balance within nature) reaches us through not only her What is Missing? project but through many of her other pieces of work. She states, “A lot of my work is not very glorious. If I succeed, you may never know I was here.” How did Maya Lin’s message of sustainability come through her works?
  • Susan Goldman Rubin’s chapter titles are very specific word choices. Looking at the titles (Clay, Granite, Water, Earth, Glass, Celadon, Dunes and Driftwood, Wood, and Memories), why do you believe the author choose these words to title each chapter?

Teaching Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

You can also access the teaching guide through Chronicle’s website here.

Recommended For: 

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Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales
Author: Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Rohan Daniel Eason
Published September 5th, 2017

Summary: Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.

There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them. Many said witches lived there — some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites — and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl’s heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks. With empathy and an ear for emotion, Emily Jenkins retells seven fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories. Charming illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason add whimsical details that enhance every new reading.

Discussion Questions include: 

  • “Snow White”
    • At the beginning of the story, dwarves are included with witches and sprites, making them feel villainous. How is this
      different from the seven dwarves we meet later in the story? Do they fit the negative connotation or are they different
      from what the villagers assume?
  • “The Frog Prince”
    • After the frog leaves, Crystal is looking for him. Why does she miss his company? How is his company different from those of her ladies-in-waiting and family?
  • “Red Riding Hood”
    • What information that Red shared does the wolf use to his advantage? Do you think he would have successfully been
      able to get into Grandmother’s house without this information?
  • Author’s Note
    • Emily Jenkins explains her intention behind rewriting these stories in the simple way that she did. How did she adhere
      to the traditional stories while also putting her own spin on them?
  • Entire book
    • Consider the names of the characters throughout the book. How does each name give a clue to the character’s
      personality or looks?

Discussion Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

You can also access the teaching guide through Candlewick’s website here.

Recommended For: 

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Who doesn’t love The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie? The book is incredible, thought-provoking, and complex. This year, my college students are reading it, and we plan to explore identity as it pertains to the novel. I wanted to generate critical, innovative teaching ideas for the book. It was my goal that students would have fun exploring the text while also thinking deeply about it. I would love for others to share what they’ve done with this book!

A few ideas/strategies:

1. Ask students to draw themselves as split between identities. 

This idea feels a bit obvious, but it really allows students to connect the concepts of the text with their own lives.

2. As a class, discuss racial melancholia. 

Racial melancholia is a mourning or a psychological haunting that might result from a feeling of estrangement from American mainstream “whiteness.” Scholars show that individuals describe (or are unconscious of) their realization that fully assimilating is impossible, given aspects like physical appearance. Essentially, these individuals experience a profound sense of dejection as they realize they may always be perceived as the Other. There is a lot of scholarship that analyzes racial melancholia in Asian Americans, and students might read some of these articles and consider how Junior and Rowdy may be experiencing racial melancholia.

3. Discuss reservations today.

Show articles about reservations today. Consider whether they may not be sacred places for some—as they are essentially sites of cultural genocide.

4. Research reservation schools today.

Ask students to research reservation schools today. This article is particularly relevant to the text.

5. Consider the hero’s journey.

A quick Google Images search generates some great diagrams. Have students study and critique the diagrams and consider whether this journey is present or absent in Alexie’s text. They might consider how the journey is relevant to both Junior and Rowdy.

6. Watch videos that feature Sherman Alexie. 

There are many videos on youtube that feature Sherman Alexie. His words are very powerful, and he discusses the realities that face Native Americans today. Here’s one of my favorites:


7. Some discussion questions and considerations about tribal identity

  • What bothered you in the book?
  • Where did you struggle to understand the perspectives within the text?
  • Can discomfort or anger increase our understanding or meaning?
  • Does Junior’s tribal identity help or hurt him?
  • What must Junior do to further his education and imagine possibilities for the adulthood that he doesn’t see on the reservation? Join the historical oppressors.
  • Is it possible to leave the sadness of your home and not betray who you are?


I’d love to hear from you! What have you done to enrich your understanding of this text?

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The first week of school is scary for all students. And boring. It is filled with syllabus review and lunch room rules. I want my students’ first day to be filled with friendliness. This year, to do this I started the year with telling my students about me. I have a philosophy that if students see you as a human, they are more likely to respect you and your class. After sharing about me, my family, my history, and my life, we played a fun game of Kahoot about me.

On day one, I wanted to make my expectations clear: I want you to do your best all year. That’s all I ask. To start this conversation, I showed them one of my favorite TED Talks: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who studies grit in many different aspects. When finished with the TED Talk, I asked each class, “Why would I show you this on day one?” One of my 6th grade girls said it the best, “You showed it to us because you want us to do our best all year because effort and wanting to grow is really important.” Our district has been focusing on growth mindset in students and teachers, and the idea of grit fits this goal.

Finally, I also introduced my students to the idea of OneWord365–that instead of setting unrealistic and too many goals, pick a word that summarizes the path they want the year to take. Most of the students’ choices included words that fit the growth mindset. Once each student had turned in their word to me, we then picked One Word for each class that embodied everyone’s word. Our words are: determination, try, and happiness.

Sidenote: I did this activity on our first day of preplanning with my entire staff, and I only got positive feedback about it. Each teacher came up their own One Word then as a PLC (professional learning community) they came up with a summarizing word and a visual representation.


Tuesday was Code of Conduct and Syllabus day, so it was a bit boring; however, I fancied up my syllabus this year, so it was a bit more fun to look at:

I redid my rules this year to be called “Expectations” and to be short, sweet, and what I really see as important in humans:

  • Be kind
  • Be respectful
  • Be responsible
  • Do your best


Wednesday was all about getting to know my students. Each year I have my students fill out an interesting and reading survey to help me get to know them. Wednesday was also BOOK DAY! Students were so excited to be able to dive into my classroom library. As students looked for books and filled out their survey, I went around to help with book selection and make discussion.


Each year in the first week, I make sure to read Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson to my students. With looping students, I try not to duplicate from year to year, but this is a text that I read at the beginning of the school year no matter what. Why? Because it uses Chloe’s tough lesson of not being kind to Maia to teach us about the power of kindness ripples and how they can affect the universe.

When we finished the book, I point out that Chloe wasn’t “bad” nor a “bully” but what she did by excluding Maia was devastating. I asked them to think about something in their life that they could do just a bit kinder: either broad like smiling at strangers more or specific like being nicer to a certain person. They then set kindness goals for the year which I’ll post for the entire year.


Friday it was once again about getting to know my students. I introduced them to the idea of six-word memoirs. First, we talked about Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story (“For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn”) and the power of his six words and how Smith Magazine took the idea and turned it into people writing their memoir in six words.

To help them understand the idea, I showed them the Six Magazine You Tube video with teens’ six-word memoirs:

And I shared fiction characters’ six-word memoirs:

  • Cinderella: Sometimes the shoes you pick matter OR Sometimes fairy godmothers do show up.
  • Simba: Don’t believe an uncle with scars.
  • Alice: Down the rabbit hole yet again.
  • Romeo: Loving someone may very much kill

Then I gave them Smith Magazine’s six tips for writing a six-word memoir:

  1. It only works if it is personal.
  2. Limitations force you to be creative.
  3. Get inspired by reading other memoirs.
  4. Like any story, make revisions.
  5. Put the best six words in the best order.
  6. Publish your story to inspire others. (Though I made it clear this was optional)

And I sent them on their way, and the response has been phenomenal (shared only those with permission given):

  • Fear is my greatest enemy, always. -Amy, 6th grade
  • I fear an average human life. -Anonymous, 6th grade
  • Books are portals, go through them. -Anonymous, 6th grade
  • Music–the best thing that happened. -Anonymous, 6th grade
  • Sibling always wanted. Five years old. -Anonymous, 6th grade
  • Hospital. Diagnosed. Kept on living great. -Daniel, 6th grade
  • If you believe, you can succeed.” -Ian, 6th grade
  • Face what scares you most. -Lorenza, 7th grade
  • The great outdoors is my indoors. -Alexandra, 7th grade
  • Life is like a hard dream. -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • Who I am is not clear. -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • You can die happy or unhappy. -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • Hufflepuff isn’t the same without me. -Vanessa, 7th grade
  • Family means nobody gets left behind. -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • I said it was impossible. “Nevermind.” -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • Stop being worried and live life. -Anonymous, 7th grade
  • Why do people tell unnecessary lies? -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • Why do girls create unnecessary drama? -Emily, 8th grade
  • Don’t think twice, or never achieve. -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • Fake smiles, fake laugh, real tears. -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • It is not just a game. -Christian, 8th grade
  • 2009: Plane ticket–Egypt to America. -Clara, 8th grade
  • Your separation made everything more difficult. -Amanda, 8th grade
  • See you later, Island of Enchantment. -Lucas, 8th grade
  • Dancing is how I express myself. -Ashley, 8th grade
  • Parents can never stick together forever. -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • Try your best; get better results. -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • Divorce can break a child’s heart. -Anonymous, 8th grade
  • Prepared to succeed; failed of hesitation. -Anonymous, 8th grade

It is through these activities that I show my students that I care for them. 

What do you do your first week of school?

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Colorado State University

Dr. Ricki Ginsberg


This course focuses on adolescence and the reading, analysis, and understanding of young adult literature. Some of the themes we will explore include: the body and mind, culture, (dis)ability, gender, grief, intersectionality, race, sexuality, and social class. Because the course is designed primarily for future English teachers to prepare them to examine issues of adolescents/ce, we will also consider supportive practices for teaching young adult texts critically in the classroom. This course will allow us the time and space to (re)consider our perspectives of adolescence. The reading and coursework is designed to be both rigorous but rewarding.


Required, Whole Class Texts:

Alexie, S. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown.

Farizan, S. (2013). If you could be mine. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin.

Nelson, J. (2014). I’ll give you the sun. New York, NY: Speak.

Roskos, E. (2013). Dr. Bird’s advice for sad poets. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Saenz, B. A. (2012). Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Schrefer, E. (2012). Endangered. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Sepetys, R. (2011). Between shades of gray. New York, NY: Speak.

Shusterman, N. (2007). Unwind. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Thomas, A. (2017). The hate u give. New York, NY: Balzer + Bray.

Woodson, J. (2014). Brown girl dreaming. New York, NY: Nancy Paulsen.

Yang, G. L. (2006). American born Chinese. New York, NY: First Second.

Zentner, J. (2016). The serpent king. New York, NY: Ember.

Literature Circle Group Text (Disability and the Body):

You will select this text during the first week.

Anderson, L. H. (2009). Wintergirls. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Draper, S. (2010). Out of my mind. New York, NY: Atheneum.

Van Draanen, W. (2011). The running dream. New York, NY: Ember.

Palacio, R. J. (2012). Wonder. New York, NY: Knopf.

Gemeinhart, D. (2015). The honest truth. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Stork, F. X. (2008). Marcelo in the real world. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Lindstrom, E. (2015). Not if I see you first. New York, NY: Poppy.

Sloan, H. G. (2013). Counting by 7s. New York, NY: Puffin.



  1. Analyze and critique a wide range of adolescents’ literature across genre and form (as evidenced in the reading portfolio, classroom discussions, and Book Bistro conversations).
  2. Examine research and theories of adolescence through a range of scholarly sources and (re)consider our own assumptions (as evidenced in the discussion of the Youth Lens and in the Scholarly Journal Article critique).
  3. Evaluate the purpose of literature that is written explicitly for adolescents and the value of using this literature for classroom instruction (as evidenced in each course requirement, particularly the Leading a Class Discussion assignment).
  4. Explore the ways in which adolescents’ literature can be highly political in nature (as evidenced in the selected required texts and the focused discussions and classroom activities in weeks 14 and 15).


The outside work for this course adheres to the instructional time equivalent to the federal credit hour definition of 2 hours of outside work for each contact hour. As such, you can expect to do approximately 5 hours of outside work each week. Much of this time will be dedicated to the course reading (required and free choice). I will not accept assignments after they are due. Please wait 24 hours to dispute a grade.

1.   Free Choice Reading Portfolio (25%)

You will be required to read a total of 3,000 pages of books written for and about adolescents.

The portfolio will reflect this work and must include:

  • A cover sheet listing the books and total number of pages that you read. If you prefer to keep track by hand, feel free to print the book log available on Canvas. At the bottom of your cover sheet, please include a signed honor statement that indicates that you read all of the pages that you list on this page.
  • A one-pager for each of the books that you read. Examples of one-pagers will be provided in class. The only requirement is that the one-pager must fit on one side of a piece of paper. Please complete these one-pagers as you read. You will be showing them to your peers during Book Bistro meetings.

Selecting texts:

  • Select texts from a variety of authors, forms, genres, subjects, and marketed age levels. Do not read over 1,000 pages of the same author, genre, or form.
  • Do not read a classic text unless it was expressly written for adolescents. For example, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye were written for adults, but The Chocolate War and The Contender were written for adolescents. Check with me if you are unsure whether a text is traditionally considered to be a YA text.
  • Do not read books that were written for adults (Crichton, Grisham, King, Steele, etc.). You may, however, read books that are very popular, free choices among adolescents (e.g. Books on the Alex Awards lists).
  • Consult adolescents, librarians, the adolescent literature collections at the Morgan Library and 322 Eddy, ALA Award lists, and other published listings of texts. The Fort Collins libraries have great collections. Ask your peers what they are enjoying, and share books with each other. I will make ever attempt to flood you with books that you might be interested in reading, and I will bring a rolling classroom library to most classes.
  • ENJOY what you are reading. I typically use a 50-page rule. If I am not enjoying a book after 50 pages, I put it down. Please use whatever system works for you and keeps you reading. You can (and should) count the pages of unfinished books toward the 3,000-page requirement.

2. Class Participation (20%)

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of your participation in class. You are expected to read the entire required texts before you come to class. I am not a fan of reading quizzes, but I need to know that you are doing your homework. As such, you will complete a reading quiz at the beginning of many classes. If you are late or absent, you will miss this assignment for the week. Your literature circle presentation will also be included in this grade.

3. Leading a Class Discussion (in pairs) (15%)

You will sign up with a peer to lead an hour-long discussion of one of the required texts. You and your peer can decide how to structure the class time and activities. You do not need to focus your discussion on the weekly topic listed in the schedule. The only requirements are: a) you will give a 5-minute reading quiz at the beginning of the hour, and b) you will lead a discussion of the reading for some portion of the time. You and your peer will grade the reading quizzes and return them to me the following class.

 4. Book Bistro Participation (10%)

You will participate in five scheduled Book Bistro meetings. You will be in charge of leading one of these meetings and inspiring conversation around the books that the members in your group are reading. You will sign up to lead the meeting in the beginning of the semester.

5. Scholarly Journal Article Critique (in pairs) (10%)

Working in pairs, you will read and critique a scholarly journal article about young adult literature or adolescence. I will help find this article. You will present your findings, complete with a handout, to the class. Your presentation should last between five and ten minutes and can include discussion.

6. Final Exam (20%)

You will design a project for the final exam that meets your personal and professional needs and passions. I will provide suggestions from previous courses that I have taught, but I recommend that you design a project that you will find exciting. We will dedicate some class time to help you determine, workshop, and independently work on this project, but you will complete most of the work outside of class. You will present your project during the university-sanctioned final exam time. The exam is scheduled for Monday, December 11, from 4:10pm-6:10pm.

7. Graduate Students Only (10%, overall grade calculated out of 110%)

In an effort to help you organize and synthesize your thinking about your Master’s thesis or project, you can choose to write five annotated bibliography entries (choose a combination of the require texts—novels and articles—for this course plus texts of your own choosing.


You can design a similar project tailored to your needs. Please see me early in the semester to discuss this course requirement and to solidify your choice. This work is due to me on December 3, 2017.

 8. Honors Credit Only (10%, overall grade calculated out of 110%)

Those who seek honors credit will be required to read five advanced reader copies (galleys) of texts within (not in addition to) their 3,000 page required. They will complete five book reviews in the form of blog posts. If these students choose, I can publish these blog posts on, and this work can be featured as publications on their resumes. Please see me if you are seeking honors credit.

 Grade Overview

  1. Free Choice Reading Portfolio (25%)
  2. Class Participation (20%)
  3. Leading a Class Discussion (in pairs) (15%)
  4. Book Bistro Participation (10%)
  5. Scholarly Journal Article Critique (in pairs) (10%)
  6. Final Exam (20%)

As per University policy, I use +/- grading. Calculations on a 4.0 scale are:  A+ = 4.0; A = 4.0; A- = 3.667; B+ = 3.334; B = 3.00; B- = 2.667; C+ = 2.334; C = 2.00; D = 1.00; F = 0.00



Attendance Policy

Attendance is critical for your success in this course. I expect you to be punctual. Absences beyond two per semester will result in a grade deduction of ½ grade, as this is equivalent to over a week of missed classes. For instance, if you earn an A in the course but miss three class sessions, your grade will reduce to an A-. You will also miss reading quizzes, which will impact your grade. Please see me with any concerns about your attendance. Excused absences will not count against your grade, and these will include participation in University-sanctioned activities, as well as participation in religious holidays and observances. If you will be absent for an excused reason, please see me in advance of class or email me at least one day in advance.

It is respectful to email me prior to class if you will be absent. This will help me (and your peers who are presenting) adjust class plans and groups accordingly. Please do not sign up to present on a day that you anticipate you will be absent for an excused purpose.

Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

The course will adhere to the Academic Integrity Policy of the Colorado State University General Catalog and the Student Conduct Code. Do not plagiarize. Any student who plagiarizes or cheats on any assignment in this course faces penalties that may include an F on the assignment or an F in the course.

Cell Phones and Computers

Please remember to turn off your cell phone before coming into class. That means no text messaging during class. Please be respectful about your computer use and do not surf the internet or check emails while in class. Abuse of this policy will result in a lower classroom participation grade.

Safety, Reporting and Resources:  

CSU’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation policy designates faculty and employees of the University as “Responsible Employees.”  This designation is consistent with federal law and guidance, and requires faculty to report information regarding students who may have experienced any form of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking or retaliation. This includes information shared with faculty in person, electronic communications or in class assignments.  As “Responsible Employees,” faculty may refer students to campus resources (see below), together with informing the Office of Support and Safety Assessment to help ensure student safety and welfare. Information regarding sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking and retaliation is treated with the greatest degree of confidentiality possible while also ensuring student and campus safety.  CSU’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation policy designates faculty and employees of the University as “Responsible Employees.”  This designation is consistent with federal law and guidance, and requires faculty to report information regarding students who may have experienced any form of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking or retaliation. This includes information shared with faculty in person, electronic communications or in class assignments.  As “Responsible Employees,” faculty may refer students to campus resources (see below), together with informing the Office of Support and Safety Assessment to help ensure student safety and welfare. Information regarding sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking and retaliation is treated with the greatest degree of confidentiality possible while also ensuring student and campus safety.

Any student who may be the victim of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking or retaliation is encouraged to report to CSU through one or more of the following resources:

  • Emergency Response 911
  • Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Office of Support and Safety Assessment (970) 491-1350
  • Colorado State University Police Department (non-emergency) (970) 491-6425

For counseling support and assistance, please see the CSU Health Network, which includes a variety of counseling services that can be accessed at: CSU Health Network (  And, the Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Team is a confidential student resource that does not have a reporting requirement and that can be of great help to students who have experienced sexual assault. The web address is: Sexual Assault Victim Assistance Team (


If you are a student who will need accommodations in this class, please do not hesitate to make an appointment to see me to discuss your individual needs. Accommodations must be discussed in a timely manner prior to implementation.   A verifying letter from Resources for Disabled Students may be required before any accommodation is provided.


Week 1           What is Adolescent Literature? and Introductions

08/21   Introductions, Select Literature Circle Texts

Read: The Youth Lens article and the Book Bistro article

Watch: “The Danger of a Single Story.”

Begin: Your choice reading. Anticipate reading about 150 pages of choice per week, and you will be successful.

08/23   Histories and Definitions of Adolescents’ Literature

Resources for Finding and Using YA Literature

Draw table numbers for Book Bistro, Sign up to lead class.

Read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


Week 2           Identity Part I

08/28   Discuss The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

08/30   The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Read: American Born Chinese.

Bring: All of your book pages thus far to share in class.


Week 3           Identity Part II


09/06   American Born Chinese

Book Bistro #1

Read: The Serpent King


Week 4           Family and Friendship

09/11   The Serpent King

09/13   The Serpent King

Read: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


Week 5           Sexuality

09/18   Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

09/20   Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Read: I’ll Give You the Sun


Week 6           Negotiating Death and Grief

09/25   I’ll Give You the Sun

Research project proposal due

Bring: All of your book pages thus far to share in class.

09/27   I’ll Give You the Sun

Book Bistro #2

Read: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets


Week 7           Mental Health

10/02   Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets

Bring: One text that you’ve loved and enjoyed this semester.

10/04   Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets

Midway Book Talks

Read: Between Shades of Gray


Week 8           Adolescents Across Time and Place: Part I

10/09   Between Shades of Gray

10/11   Between Shades of Gray

Read: Endangered


Week 9           Adolescents Across Time and Place: Part II

10/16   Endangered

Bring: All of your book pages thus far to share in class.

10/18   Endangered

Youth Lens looking across all texts???

Book Bistro #3

Read: Brown Girl Dreaming


Week 10         Adolescents in the “Real World” (Nonfiction)

10/23   Brown Girl Dreaming

10/25   Brown Girl Dreaming

Read: Unwind


Week 11         Adolescents in the Imagined Worlds (Fantasy and Science Fiction)

10/30   Unwind

11/01   Unwind

Read: Literature Circle Text


Week 12         Disability and the Body

11/06   Literature Circle Text of Choice (See first page of syllabus)

Bring: All of your book pages thus far to share in class.

 11/08   Literature Circles

Book Bistro #4

Bring: Anything you need for your literature circle presentation.


Week 13         Disability and the Body

11/13   Literature Circle Presentations

Read: If You Could Be Mine

11/15   No Class (Ricki at NCTE) – Independent Reading and Work on Final Project


Thanksgiving Break; No Class; November 20-24, 2017


Week 14         The Politics of Adolescence

11/27   If You Could Be Mine

11/29   If You Could Be Mine, Skype with Sara Farizan

Read: The Hate U Give

Graduate Students: Paper Due Next Class


Week 15         Adolescents as Agents

12/04   The Hate U Give

Bring: Your completed Reading Portfolio

12/06   The Hate U Give

Book Bistro #5


Week 16         Final

12/11   Final Exam Presentations



Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting the Picture Book 10 for 10 (#PB10for10).

The rules are simple:

What:  10 picture books you can’t live without
Hashtag:  #PB10for10
Who:  Anyone who is interested—educators, authors, media specialists, librarians, parents, and book lovers.
When:  Thursday, August 10, 2017
Where:  All posts will be linked on the Picture Book 10 for 10 Google Community Site.

Our 2017 Topic: Favorite Picture Books to Use in the Secondary Classroom

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles (Aladdin, 2005).
(Ricki’s Review  |  Kellee’s Review)

Ricki: This book is beautifully written and the characterization is wonderfully done. I enjoy reading this book to discuss the intricacy of picture books and their application within units. This books reminds older students that picture books aren’t just for young kids.

Kellee: I feel that this picture book portrays a part of the Civil Rights Movement that most kids don’t know about unless they’ve been explicitly talked to about it. Freedom Summer gives me a way to start the conversation.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow, 2015).

Ricki: We use this book when we talk about identity. I love reading this text aloud and then asking students about the author’s purpose. Many think that he is discussing disability and others argue that he is discussing gender identity. The interpretations remind us how texts give different interpretations, and this is a very good thing.

Kellee: Identity is something that everyone is struggling with in middle school, and I loved reading this book with my students and listening to their conversation about the crayons. When they begin to connect it to human identity, some really fascinating discussions break out.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen, 2012).
(Ricki’s Review  |  Kellee’s Review)

Ricki: I love to read this book on the first day or on any day that I am noticing classroom tensions. What I love about this book is that it teaches kindness without being didactic. The story goes beyond the theme of kindness and reminds readers about regret. This is a beautiful book that earns its place in classrooms of all levels.

Kellee: I begin every year with this book, and my students make kindness goals for the year to help ripple kindness throughout the school.

Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum, 2013). 

Ricki: I love to show this book right before a research project/paper. It shows an example of high quality research and reminds readers that a lot of research is required in order to present a high quality product.

Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora (Knopf, 1997). 

Ricki: This is a great book to start a conversation about being culturally responsive to other people. The library lady is very sensitive to Tomás, and the book makes readers want to be better people. My bilingual education teacher read this to my class, and I think of it often. I always enjoy reading it aloud.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (Candlewick, 2003).

Kellee: I love to participate in Dot Day because it truly shows kids the range of what art is and the importance of creativity. I use The Dot to introduce this discussion then every student makes their own dot that symbolizes them.

Ricki: This is a fantastic book to discuss imagination. I show this book when I am trying to kickstart ideas about projects. Because I make strong attempts to allow a lot of flexibility in projects, this book is great to simply inspire students to examine ideas differently.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña (Putnam, 2015).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I wrote a whole post just on using this book with my middle school students because students really found the depth and beauty in this amazing picture book.

Ricki: This book reminds us that picture books are anything but simple. I love to use this book to talk about themes and hidden messages in writing. Then, we apply this idea to our own writing. Reading this book reminds us to look at writing more deeply.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywelt (Philomel, 2013).

Kellee: This is another superb crayon text that uses the idea of crayons being expected to act or do one thing really stunting the creativity and identity of the crayons. Also, the book is written in

Ricki: This book is funny, creative, and cleverly written. I’ve had students use this book for readers’ theater, and their performance was hysterical. Each student took the time to memorize their speech, and we talked about all of the qualities of a good speech.

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar (Sterling, 2016).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I love the discussions of normal that this book brings up. You’ll notice, a lot of the picture books I read with my students discuss identity and kindness because picture books are such a perfect way to get conversations about tough subjects started. Norman shows us that what you think is normal may not be what another person thinks is normal, and being abnormal doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

Ricki: This is a great book to talk about what it means to be “normal.” I love to use this book to kick off discussions that queer the concept of normalcy.

Dear Dragon by Josh Funk (Viking, 2016).
(Kellee & Ricki’s Review)

Kellee: I am going to use Dear Dragon in my classroom for the first time this year! I want to get my student pen pals, and I am going to use Dear Dragon as an introduction to the idea. I’m not sure how I’m going to execute the pen pals yet, but there is also the theme of first impressions and judging based on looks that is perfect for our discussion on themes!

Ricki: Yes, Kellee! I have yet to use this book, but it would be a phenomenal text to start a student pen pal program! You might also use this book to talk about expectations and judgment.

What are your favorite books to use in the secondary classroom? 

Don’t forget to check out all of the other #PB10for10 posts by visiting the Google community site or searching on Twitter!