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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!

Marti’s Song for Freedom | Martí y sus versos por la libertad
Author: Emma Otheguy
Illustrator: Beatriz Vidal
Published July 17, 2017 by Lee & Low Books

Summary:

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma,
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
.

As a boy, José Martí was inspired by the natural world. He found freedom in the river that rushed to the sea and peace in the palmas reales that swayed in the wind. Freedom, he believed, was the inherent right of all men and women. But his home island of Cuba was colonized by Spain, and some of the people were enslaved by rich landowners. Enraged, Martí took up his pen and fought against this oppression through his writings. By age seventeen, he was declared an enemy of Spain and forced to leave his beloved island.

Martí traveled the world, speaking out for Cuba’s independence. But throughout his exile, he suffered from illness and homesickness. He found solace in New York’s Catskill Mountains, where nature inspired him once again to fight for independence.

Written in verse, with excerpts from Martí’s seminal Versos sencillos, this book is a beautiful tribute to a brilliant political writer and courageous fighter of freedom for all men and women.

Praise: 

“A sensitive and poignant tribute to one of Latin America’s most important historical figures.” – School Library Journal, starred review

“A moving account of [Marti’s] crusade for justice.” -Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A timely story that will inspire many to fight for equality and sing songs for freedom.” -Booklist, starred review

“Spotlights a steadfast hero and brilliant writer still worth admiring today.” -Kirkus reviews, starred review

“A direct and approachable introduction to the life and works of Cuban poet and freedom fighter José Martí.” -Shelf Awareness, starred review

About the Creators: 

Emma Otheguy is a children’s book author and a historian of Spain and colonial Latin America. She is a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and her short story “Fairies in Town” was awarded a Magazine Merit Honor by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Otheguy lives with her husband in New York City. This is her picture book debut. You can find her online at emmaotheguy.com.

Beatriz Vidal is an award-winning painter, illustrator, and teacher. Her work has appeared in well-known publications such as The New York Times Magazine, Woman’s Day, and the New Yorker. Her artwork has also been featured on PBS programs and in numerous exhibitions around the world, including the International Exhibition of Illustrations for Children in Italy and the Society of Illustrators in New York. Vidal divides her time between New York City and Buenos Aires, Argentina. You can visit her online at beatrizvidal.com.

ReviewThis beautiful bilingual biography deserves all the praise it is receiving. The beautiful pieces of art that accompany the poetic verses turns this picture book biography into a piece of art! I also loved that not only is Martí’s biography in Spanish and English, but so is the author’s back matter.

I also am so glad that I learned about José Martí! I didn’t know anything about the Cuban war for independence and emancipation from slavery. Cuba has such an extensive history that is not taught here, so this story definitely fills a gap in history education. While the story teaches primarily of Martí’s life, the back matter goes deeper into Cuban independence and reading both is definitely going to pique interests to learn more. I think this book would pair nicely with books about our Civil War to compare the United States to other countries’ fights for freedom.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Emma Otheguy was kind enough to share an activity guide for the text. All of the activities come in Spanish and English and can be downloaded at http://emmaotheguy.com/my-new-book/.

Activity 1: “José Martí wrote many letters throughout his life. He wrote about things he found beautiful or interesting, and also about injustices, and how he though they might get better. Write a letter to a friend, a relative, or an elected official about something you’re passionate about. It can be anything you care about, whether it’s helping your neighbors, caring for animals, or respecting the planet–just share how you feel. Then cut out your letter an mail it.” Followed by a outlined letter for kids to feel out.

Activity 2: “Did you know that José Martí was a poet, and that is poetry book Versos Sencillos was written and published right here in the United States? If you ever hear the song Guantanamera you’ll notice words from Marti’s poetry in the song! Read the first stanza of Martí’s poem, then fill in the blanks to create your own poem.”

Activity 3: “Read the book and solve this crossword puzzle”

Activity 4: “As teenagers, José Martí and his friends wrote and published their own newspaper, La Patria Libre (the free homeland), supporting Cuban independence. Can you create a newspaper? Fill out the boxes with the latest news.” Includes a place for Read All About It, Letter to the Editor, and an illustration.

Discussion Questions: How did José Martí play a part in Cuba’s fight for independence?; Did his age when sent to America surprise you?; Why is Cuba such a mix of culture?; How did the author use José Martí’s own words within her biography of him?; If you were to write to your government about an injustice you see in your country, what would you write about?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Margarita Engle’s books, Henry’s Freedom Box  by Henry Levine and other biographies about the fight for emancipation in the United States, Nonfiction picture book biographies

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**Thank you to Emma Otheguy for providing a copy for review!**

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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!

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon
Authors: Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee
Illustrator: Susanna Chapman
Published June 15th, 2017 by Compendium Inc.

Summary: “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” When Bobbi Gibb saw the Boston Marathon her mind was set—she had to be a part of it. She trained hard, journeying across America to run on all kinds of terrain. But when the time came to apply for the marathon, she was refused entry. They told her girls don’t run, girls can’t run. That didn’t stop Bobbi.

In 1966, the world believed it was impossible for a woman to run the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb was determined to prove them wrong. She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.

This picture book tells the true story of how she broke the rules in 1966 and how, one step at a time, her grit and determination changed the world. Created in collaboration with Bobbi Gibb and the perfect gift for would-be runners, kids of all ages, and everyone out there with a love of sport.

ReviewRecently I was introduced to what happened to Kathrine Switzer in the 1967 Boston Marathon as it was the 50th anniversary. I thought she was the first woman to run the marathon (and officials attempted to stop her as she ran the race), but this story of Bobbi Gibb showed that the first woman stepped up the year before. Bobbi Gibb is such an inspiration. She trained and trained for the marathon, went against her parents’ wishes, and did something no one had ever done before. Gibb’s story combined with the beautiful lyricism of the text and freeness of the painted illustrations makes Gibb’s story run right into your heart.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Yet another HERstory that needs to be shared with students as it is a part of history that is left out. Gibb’s story can be added to other women’s rights texts to build a lit circle or jigsaw activity where students learn and share about the struggles and victories of women throughout time.

Additionally, the back matter of The Girl Who Ran has a beautiful timeline that can be used to teach this text feature.

Discussion Questions: What is the theme of Bobbi Gibb’s story?; What is the purpose of the timeline in the back matter?; How did the repetition of “She said she would do it, she wasn’t a liar; she’d show them by running like the wind in the fire.” add to the story of the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon?; What does the act of Bobbi’s mom taking her to the marathon show about her?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: The Book of Heroines by Stephanie Warren Drimmer and other books about amazing woman in history

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**Thank you to Angeline at Compendium for providing a copy for review!**

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The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth
Author: Ellie Hattie
Illustrator: Karl James Mountford
Published 2017 by Kane Miller EDC Publishing

Summary: Look out! There’s a mammoth on the loose, and Oscar has to get him home before the clock strikes one! This riotous adventure is packed with facts and lift-the-flap fun.

Review: I don’t think the summary of this book does it justice.  It is such a fun book that kids of so many different ages are going to love reading. It is about a boy who wakes up to find a mammoth wandering around his town looking for his baby brother. They follow the clues to The Curious Museum which has come to life like The Night at the Museum, and they chase Teddy, the baby mammoth, through different rooms in the museum: Underwater World, the Library, The Flight Floor, The Time of the Dinosaurs, and The Extinct and Endangered Creatures rooms. Trent and I loved the detailed and silly illustrations and trying to find Teddy on each page!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In each room, there is the narrative of Oscar and Timothy, the big mammoth, but there are also flaps that include nonfiction information about the room that the story is currently taking place in. For example, in the ocean scene there are flaps that include flaps about octopus, blue whales, corral, and more! In the library there’s information about books & art, pilots in The Flight Floor, dinos in The Time of the Dinosaurs, and creatures in the Extinct and Endangered room.

This mix of adventure and facts makes this a perfect cross-curricular text to use or as an intro before a trip to a natural history museum.

Discussion Questions: What did you learn in each room?; Why does Oscar have to get Teddy back before 1:00?; What type of museum do you think The Curious Museum is?; What else did you see in the exhibits that you would like to learn about?; Why do you think the author included the flaps with nonfiction information?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide by Emma Yarlett, Natural History Museums, Night at the Museum movies

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**

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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!

Scanorama Series
Amazing Animals
Dinosaurs
Deadly Predators
Author: Anna Claybourne
Published September 13th, 2016 by Silver Dolphin Books

Summary: Slide the scanner across the page to discover what lies under the skin of the world’s most fascinating creatures! In Scanorama: Amazing Animals, readers will meet a variety of species from across the animal kingdom and learn about their astounding feats of strength, speed, and endurance. The five movable sliders transform the illustrated animals—including an anaconda, a thorny devil, and a blue whale—to reveal their skeletons, creating a virtual X-ray on the page. Captivating facts, photographs, and illustrations provide even more details on each animal, and interactive flaps to lift enhance the scan-tastic educational experience.

Scanorama: Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures gives young readers the feel of working as a lab technician as they study dinosaurs and other amazing prehistoric animals. Five movable sliders transform illustrated creatures—such as the deadly T. rex, the armored Ankylosaurus, and the massive Argentinosaurus—into virtual X-ray scans, revealing their fossilized skeletons. Detailed text, photographs, and illustrations provide insights into how each animal survived in the prehistoric world, and even more facts can be found under the interactive flaps throughout the book.

On the pages of Scanorama: Deadly Predators, kids are treated to a virtual X-ray tour featuring some of the world’s most dangerous animals. Five movable sliders transform illustrated animals into full-body scans that reveal their skeletons and show how they have come to rule their habitats. Featured animals include a tiger, a scorpion, and a great white shark; each animal is covered in detail through informative text, photographs, and illustrations. To learn about even more deadly creatures, readers can lift the flaps and discover what is hiding in wait, ready to pounce on its next victim!

ReviewThese books are so cool! The author has moved nonfiction texts to another level by actual letting the reader see another level of the animals: their bones! The interactive aspect of the scanning makes the book fun, but it is also clever how it reveals the bones of the animal that is being highlighted. In addition to the scanning aspect, there is tons of information about the book’s topic!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These books are made for the classroom. The immense amount of information, and their ability to keep the information fun and the reader entertained makes them perfect for independent activities as well as whole group.

Discussion Questions: What does the scanorama show you that other books don’t?; What other scanorama books would you be interested in seeing?; What careers would the scanorama books prepare you to be successful in?; What topic in the books would you be interested in learning more about?; What animals/dinosaurs had similar bone structures? Different bone structures?; What do predators have in common?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Science, Animals, Dinosaurs

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**Thank you to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for review!!**

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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos
Author: Stephanie Roth Sisson
Published: October 14, 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

A Guest Review by Brittany Brown

Summary: A curious boy living in a small city apartment finds the world astonishing. He wants to know about light bulbs, inch worms, and rocket ships. Carl sets out on a journey to find answers, but finds bigger, even more powerful questions. Through his research and studies, Carl eventually earns the title of Dr. Carl Sagan and spends his life seeking knowledge and understanding about the universe. This young

boy’s contributions to science and education have inspired many children everywhere to question the world around them. His story will resonate every child who has ever wondered “how” or “why” or spent an evening looking up at the night sky.

Review: I am constantly looking for books which will inspire my students and get them excited about learning. This book, which is brought to life with beautiful illustrations and the great mysteries of the universe, did that for myself as an adult, too. After reading it, everyday life is once again imbued with the magic and novelty it had in childhood. In Sagan’s eyes, there is no phenomenon too mundane to investigate. The curiosity which most adults leave behind drove Sagan to be the lifelong learner that all teachers hope to foster in their students. Reading this book shows that science is all around us, that we all belong here in the universe, and that in everyone there is a scientist. I absolutely loved reading this book, and as a new teacher building my classroom library, this is the first one which I will be purchasing multiple copies of to share with my students.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This story would pair well with any science or biography unit. It would also serve as a great example of narrative nonfiction.

The most obvious use for this story is in a science unit. I would love to use this book to open up a discussion at the beginning of a unit on the solar system. Not only would it generate excitement, it would also begin to build some vocabulary and background knowledge. It would make the information in the unit more personal and relevant to kids, and would be a great launching point to encourage students to come up with their own questions about how the world works.

This book is also a wonderful book to use for mini lessons in writing. Using this book as an example, a teacher could lead a discussion on how to choose which life events to include in a biography, how to sequence and organize it, and how to incorporate quotes from a historical figure into a writing piece. It also shows how to include facts and achievements in an engaging way, and how to demonstrate a person’s impact on history.

Finally, this book would also be a superb example of narrative nonfiction. Despite containing lots of scientific facts, it reads like a storybook and the illustrations do much of the talking. Students will be captivated with the descriptive narration, and discussions could explore their experiences as readers or how they may be able to attempt this style in their writing.

Discussion Questions: What are your big mystery questions? Where would you go to try to find answers to them? What character traits helped Carl on his journey? What impact did he have on the world? Who does he remind you of?

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: What Do You Do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada, I Wonder by Annaka Harris, You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey, On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Edros by Deborah Heiligman, Look Up!: Henrietta Leavitt, a Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh

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Thank you, Brittany!

RickiSig

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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!

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive!
Author: Ammi-Joan Paquette & Laurie Ann Thompson
Published June 27th, 2017 by Walden Pond Press

Summary: Two Truths and a Lie is the first book in a fascinating new series that presents some of the most crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true—and asks readers to separate facts from the fakes!

Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

Acclaimed authors Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson have teamed up to create a series of sneaky stories about the natural world designed to amaze, disgust, and occasionally bamboozle you.

About the Authors:

 

Ammi-Joan Paquette has traveled to twenty-four countries, has the ability to wake herself up at a given time without an alarm clock, and once climbed Mt. Everest. (Not all of these are true!) Joan is the author of the novels Rules for Ghosting, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl, as well as the picture books Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, Ghost in the House, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, and The Tiptoes Guide to Tracking Fairies. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson has ridden a pig, gotten stuck in an elevator overnight, and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. (One of these facts is not true; can you guess which?) She is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, My Dog Is the Best, and Emmanuel’s Dream, a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book, a CCBC Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, among dozens of other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family. You can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com.

Review: Walden Pond, as far as I know, hasn’t published a nonfiction text other than the Guys Read: True Stories, and I can definitely see why this is one they chose to add to their publication catalog. One of the greatest educational obstacles right now is that students have access to such a wide variety of information, some that is anything but reliable and valid, so it is up to parents and educators to show how to filter through all of the information and check the validity of what they find. Paquette and Thompson’s Two Truths and a Lie take that to a fun level giving the reader three stories, all the seem as crazy yet possible, but it gives kids the opportunity to use the internet to research each story to determine what is the truth and what is the lie. But the book doesn’t seem like it is for teaching, though it would work perfectly in the classroom, because the stories are just so crazy and fun to read from zombie-making fungi to an unlikely chicken, the stories are just all so unbelievable!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Like I shared above, these stories would be a perfect way to practice digital literacy and learn about reliable and valid sources.

Discussion Questions: Which is a lie? Why do you think so? Where could you check to find out? Which of the true stories do you want to learn more about?

Flagged Passages: “Part 1: Preposterous Plans and Fungi–Crazy, Creepy, Cool

Ah, nature. A green meadow. Wind rustling through the leaves.
Mushrooms growing on the side of a fallen log. What could be more peaceful, more predictable, more ordinary?
To that we say: ha! The plants and fungus we spotlight in this section are full of surprises. They completely defy those common stereotypes and misconceptions
Intrigued? We hope so! Because once you’ve read these, going green will never mean quite the same thing…

A. Underground Miracle Root
B. Pandomonium
C. The Secret Lives of Plants.” Chapter 1, Part 1

Read This If You Love: Learning interesting and new facts about nature

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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!

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: Katy Wu
Published May 17th, 2017 by Sterling Children’s Books

Summary: Do you know who Grace Hopper was?

A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, and naval leader! Acclaimed picture book author Laurie Wallmark (Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine) once again tells the riveting story of a trailblazing woman in Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling Children’s Books, May 16, 2017).

Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.

“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”  The picture book biography of Grace Hopper—the boundary-breaking woman who revolutionized computer science.

Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English,” and throughout her life succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly is “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys.

About the Author: Laurie Wallmark has degrees in Biochemistry from Princeton University, Information Systems from Goddard College, and Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut book  Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston Books) received four starred reviews, praise in The New York Times, and numerous awards. Laurie lives in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter: @lauriewallmark.

About the Illustrator: With a BFA in Illustration and Entertainment Arts from Pasadena Art Center College of Design in 2007, Katy Wu has worked for Google, Laika, Pixar, CinderBiter, and Simon & Schuster. Grace Hopper is her first picture book. Having worked on such projects as the feature film Coraline, and various shorts (La LunaCar Toons) as well as CG, 2D, stop motion, online games, and content for social media platforms, Katy is an incredible talent. She lives and freelances in New York City. Follow her online at katycwwu.tumblr.com.

Review: Each time I learn about a new woman in history that made such a tremendous contribution yet is a name I didn’t know, I am flabbergasted by the lack HERstory in HIStory. Grace Hopper is a phenomenal individual! I love how much her story promotes imagination and STEM. Her stories of rebuilding clocks and building a doll house from blueprints with an elevator shows how building a strong mathematical and scientific mind begins from youth, and it is all about teaching kids to mess around, use their imagination, tinker, and learn through trying. Wallmark’s biography of Grace Hopper does a beautiful job of combining a message of rebellion (in the name of science), creativity, imagination, and education with Grace’s biography. In addition to the narrative, Wu’s illustrations and formatting of the novel adds humanity and color to her story.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Grace Hopper is one example of a female scientist that should be a name that everyone knows yet she is not taught in schools. Luckily there are so many wonderful nonfiction picture book biographies being published showcasing woman who made a difference (some listed below). One way I picture this text being used in the classroom is by using these picture books in a lit circle or even like a jig saw type activity. Each group reads a different nonfiction picture book and shares what they learned with the class.

Grace Hopper could also be used in a computer classroom because it has such a wonderful introduction to the beginning of computers. Grace was part of very early computer programming and computer science, and her story would be perfect to share during a technology class looking at the history of computers.

Discussion Questions: How did Grace Hopper’s legacy continued to the computers and technology we use today?; How did Grace Hopper stand out from what was expected of woman at the time?; What hardships did Grace probably face because of gender prejudice?; Choose one of Grace’s quotes shared in the book and share what it meant for Grace and how it could it be taken as inspirational for your life?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Ada’s Ideas by Fiona Robinson, Maya Lin by Susan Rubin, I Dissent by Debbie Levy, Fearless Flyer by Heather Lang, Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, Women Who Broke the Rules series by Kathleen KrullLiberty’s Voice by Erica SilvermanJosephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, The Book of Heroines from National Geographic Kids

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**Thank you to Ardi at Sterling for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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