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Find more Unpacking a Standard
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.4. Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos. By Deborah Heiligman. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. 2013. 48p. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781596433076). 510.92. K–Gr. 3.
This picture-book biography incorporates numbers and equations into the images, while the text often repeats particular words and phrases for emphasis. Heiligman uses words such as hated when stressing how Erdos felt about rules on page 4, worried when highlighting Erdos’ mother’s feelings about germs on page 9, and so on. Ask students to discuss why the author may have used the words more than once. How does it help the reader know how that character feels?
Henri’s Scissors. By Jeanette Winter. Illus. by the author. 2013. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $16.99 (9781442464841); e-book, $16.99 (9781442464858). 759.4. K–Gr. 3.
Throughout this short picture-book biography, the author describes how Matisse feels during different points in his life with very simple language. Have students look at the “feelings” words and how the illustrations help them determine the context of the emotions. How does painting help Matisse change his mood? How do the words, images, or colors help the reader know how Matisse feels at the point in his life covered in the book?
Sophie’s Squash. By Pat Zietlow Miller. Illus. by Anne Wilsdorf. 2013. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (9780307978967). PreS–Gr. 2.
Sophie, the star of this sweet story, is very adamant about keeping her pet squash, even when it begins to get mushy. Have students first look at Sophie’s face on various pages and then have them discuss how they think she feels. Then have students go back and listen to the text that goes along with the illustrations. Which of the words helps to reinforce how Sophie appears to be feeling in the pictures? You could also have students read aloud the words that Sophie says, using a tone of voice that they think matches how she seems to be feeling, based on the evidence on the page.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. By Kate DiCamillo. Illus. by K. G. Campbell. 2013. 240p. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763660406). Gr. 3–6.
The main character in this illustrated story is very interested in comics, and she imagines herself to be in a comic throughout the book. Have students analyze a particular scene in which there are words that they don’t completely understand. Next, have them look closely at the surrounding context, discuss it with each other, and determine the meaning of the unknown words. Finally, have them illustrate the scene as if it were a comic. They must be able to explain why they illustrated the scene in a particular way, based on the meaning of the words from the text.
Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus. by Brian Pinkney. 2013. 40p. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316070133). 323.092. Gr. 2–4.
Throughout the book, the illustrator incorporates certain words into the actual illustrations. Have students analyze those images and use the text to determine why those particular words were added to the illustrations. How are those words important to the message of the story and to the history it records?
Year of the Jungle: Memories from the Home Front. By Suzanne Collins. Illus. by James Proimos. 2013. 40p. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545425162). K–Gr. 3.
At the beginning and end of this story, the narrator mentions that she loves a poem by Ogden Nash about a dragon named Custard, who is brave even though he is afraid. Have students read both Collins’ book and Nash’s poem, “The Tale of Custard the Dragon.” Next, have students compare Collins’ narrator to Custard and find specific words in both works that demonstrate how the two characters are alike or different, or how they are both brave while being afraid.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty. By Russell Freedman. 2013. 96p. illus. Holiday, $24.95 (9780823423743). 973.3092. Gr. 6–9.
Ben Franklin is quoted often throughout this exemplary biography, giving the reader an opportunity to hear about Franklin’s life in his own words. On page 73 of the text, the author quotes some of Franklin’s thoughts on approving the flawed Constitution. Have students look at this portion of the text and discuss what he meant by those words. Do those words show evidence of a man knowledgeable enough to know that nothing is perfect, or do they show a man who is turning a blind eye?
Elvis and the Underdogs. By Jenny Lee. Illus. by Kelly Light. 2013. 304p. HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray, $16.99 (9780062235541). Gr. 4–6.
Have students read the section of the story in which Benji meets his enormous, talking therapy dog named Elvis. Elvis speaks in a very different tone than Benji. Words and phrases such as “merely” or “house staff quarters” give the reader a specific view of Elvis and contrast greatly with the very casual vocabulary of Benji. Discuss with students which specific words or phrases help to characterize each character. How does the language of each character translate in the reader’s mind? Is it the same for all readers in the class?
Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty. By Tanya Bolden. 2013. 128p. illus. Abrams, $24.95 (9781419703904). 973.714. Gr. 6–10.
Have students read Lincoln’s words on page 64 about his objective for the Civil War in red, and then the author’s commentary in black. The author states that to this day, we do not really know what Lincoln’s motives were. Have students debate the president’s motives, using the rest of Bolden’s text and Lincoln’s quote from page 64. Bolden states that Lincoln ends his words in an apologetic way. Which specific words in Lincoln’s text would make the author sense that tone?
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