Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Newsletter

Winter 1999. Page 5.

by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis.

  This issue is sponsored by Teaching K-8 Magazine.
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Behind the Desk

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Usually this part of the newsletter is entitled "On the Road" but I haven't been on the road very much this last six months. I took the time off in order to finish up three manuscripts that had been in various stages of development for several years. They are now more than manuscripts, they're full-grown books, all published by Linworth Publishing. The first is Curriculum Connections: Picture Books in Grades 3 and up (Linworth, 1998 ISBN 0938865706. Paperback.). It's really the third in a series of books I did with Lynn Palmer, Vaughn Churchill, Margaret Ahearn and Bernard McMahon. The previous volumes are available from McGraw Learning Materials. For Curriculum Connections: Picture Books in Grade 3 and Up, we took eighty-five picture books that we felt had a lot to offer older students and devoted a double-page spread to each title. We looked at each book from an artistic stance, pointing out details and techniques you might have missed with a casual reading. We linked each book to a novel, a theme and its strongest curriculum aspects so that you could see at a glance where it fit in your classroom. We took it across the curriculum, suggesting specific activities you might want to use with the book. We tried not to distort either book or the curricula by doing that and then went on to list other novels and picture books that tied in with the title book. In effect, each page of "Curriculum Connections" becomes a theme for study.

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Using Literature in the Middle School Curriculum (Linworth, 1999 ISBN 0938865730. Paperback.) is a book my daughter Rebecca Otis and I have been working on for five years. It's an attempt to wed theory and practice in the use of trade books as curriculum mainstays with kids from fifth grade through ninth. Because trade books at this level tend to be longer and more intricate than those written for a younger audience are, teachers seldom have time to weed through the junk to find the treasures. They rely instead on a few stalwart titles and argue over who gets to use them at which grade levels. Hundreds of other sometimes better titles go unnoticed because no one's got time to find and read them. Using Literature in the Middle School Curriculum helps you find the treasures and suggests ways to use them against the backdrop of good teaching techniques and strategies.

The first part of the book details some of those techniques and suggests ways to implement them. Part Two takes eighteen themes from across the curriculum and gives books, summaries and suggested activities for bringing literature into those areas. Part Two helps you figure out ways to use cross-discipline approaches to learning. In Part Three we cite specific passages within trade books which are examples of symbolism, flashbacks, foreshadowing and other author techniques. Part Four consists of in-depth explorations of twenty-nine focus books. These trade books are so strong and so well-written that they are candidates for the purchase of multiple copies in the classroom or maybe even class-wide reading. We summarize the focus books, analyze them a bit, give some suggestions for discussion and activities to take it deeper and end with a list of related fiction and nonfiction to support each title.

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Open Books: Literature in the Curriculum Kindergarten through Grade Two very soon to be published by Linworth (Paperback.) completes the list of my new books. Essentially this is a complete make-over of my very first book Once Upon a Time.

It's completely new although the intent is the same. Twenty themes that are part of most systems' curriculum in social studies, science, art, math and literature are developed in some detail using many trade books for children in the early grades. Fourteen focus books which range from last year's Caldecott winners to old favorites are analyzed, summarized and taken to those parts of the curriculum where they fit most comfortably with activities and suggestions for discussion and exploration. The final section consists of author/ illustrator studies of outstanding artists in the field. The studies include some information about the person's life, a look at this or her work in general and some suggested activities about that work in general and then a book by book exploration of the individual books with activities suggested for each.

One of the nicest things about these three books from Linworth is that they are paperbacks and, therefore, reasonably priced. You can order any of these books by calling Linworth at 1-800-786-5017.

There are other books in the works, of course, Friends and Relations will be published in May of 1999 by Northeast Foundation for Children. We'll tell you more about that in the next newsletter and I'm working on a historical novel for kids but now I'm ready to get back out there on the road again. So, if you're looking for a storyteller for the kids, a speaker for a convention, an in-service workshop presenter for teachers and librarians, a speaker for a parents' day, or some combination thereof. I'm your woman. For further information see our new website pages on my work. Hope to see you on your road soon.



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