Category Archives: Recommended Books to Read, to Learn, to Inspire

Books that either Jennifer and I have read or have been recommended to read. Our husbands and collegues provide us a lot of the recommendations. We love suggestions, share them.

Suggested Summer Reading for Teachers and those who Play a Role in the Life of a Child

Having written my thesis on phonics, I found this book a good and reflective read. I am still a believer in the importance of phonics in the classroom and at home but I am and feel we as educators must be, open to others views and opinions. I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it for your summer “must read” list.

“The Great Reading Disaster: Reclaiming Our Educational Birthright” by Mona McNee and Alice Coleman

Amazon’s Book Description:


“By the late 1980s half the nation’s children were receiving eleven years of progressivism schooling that failed to give them even the elementary basis of education that was completed by the age of seven in earlier days. This great reading disaster was caused by the ?look?say? method of teaching, which presented whole words not individual letters. This book explains the causes and provides the solution to this problem. In 2006, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills has ordered schools to use the phonic method but there seems little evidence that its implications are properly understood or that any serious re-training program for teachers is being put in place. The authors believe their explanations and recommendations in this book are thus needed just as much as ever.”



The next book is an excellent read and has sat in my office on my book shelve for a couple of years now. I have lent it out many times now in hopes that it might inspire those who read it to refuse to give into the easy path and CHOOSE to be the difference in the life of our children…our future! Our Unlock the Teacher team has talked on this before on how we feel ALL children are capable of learning. I know many have heard me tell the story of when I taught in the city and I was told that my students could not or would never understand Shakespeare, so I should not waste my time. Well, not only did my 8th grade English/Literature students learn all about Shakespeare, The Tempest became one of their favorite reads that year. Much of how our students respond in our classrooms or buildings depends most on how we choose to approach our environment and communicate learning expectations. I highly recommend this book for all educational staff and parents too!



“Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can’t Read, Write, or Add”


Amazon’s Book Description:


Dumbing Down Our Kids is a searing indictment of America’s secondary schools one that every parent and teacher should read.
Dumbing Down Our Kids offers a full-scale investigation of the new educational fad, sometimes called “Outcome Based Education” the latest in a long series of “reforms” that has eroded our schools.
-Why our kids rank to, or at the bottom of international tests in math and science

-Why “self-esteem” has supplanted grades and genuine achievements

-How the educational establishment lowers standards and quality in our schools-while continuing to raise their budgets and our school taxes

-The dumbing down of the curriculum so everyone can pass-but no one excel

-How parents, students, and teachers can evaluate schools and restore quality learning.


If you have a good book to recommend or your staff has chosen a book to read as a team, please share and together we can learn from each other. It is in the collaborative process that we will make a difference for our children of today and the future of tomorrow.


May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,





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March is National Reading Month…Here are some Great Books to Add to Your Classroom Library Wish Lists

A Collection of Recommended Books for Children Grades 1-3



Agee, Jon – Milo’s Hat Trick

Bruchac, Joseph – How Chipmunk got his Stripes : A Tale of Bragging and Teasing

Choi, Yangsook – The Name Jar

Eastman, P. D. (Philip D.) – Are you my Mother?

Jenkins, Emily – Five Creatures

Johnson, Crockett – Harold and the Purple Crayon

Kellogg, Steven – A Penguin Pup for Pinkerton

Kimmel, Eric A – Anansi and the Magic Stick

LeSieg, Theo. – Ten Apples up on Top!

Long, Melinda – When Papa Snores

Look, Lenore – Henry’s First-Moon Birthday

Mayer, Mercer – There’s an Alligator Under my Bed  (both my son and daughter loved this one 🙂

McCloskey, Robert – Make way for Ducklings

Middleton, Charlotte – Tabitha’s Terrifically Tough Tooth

Pattou, Edith – Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden

Piper, Watty – The Little Engine that Could

Rey, Margret – The Complete Adventures of Curious George

Rylant, Cynthia – The Great Gracie Chase : Stop that Dog!

Shaw, Nancy (Nancy E.) – Sheep in a Jeep

Showers, Paul – The Listening Walk

Smith, Charles R., Jr – Loki & Alex : The Adventures of a Dog and his Best Friend

Stevens, Janet – And the dish Ran Away with the Spoon

Stewart, Sarah – The Journey

Suen, Anastasia – Hamster Chase

Watt, Melanie – Leon the Chameleon

Wick, Walter – Walter Wick’s Optical Tricks

Winthrop, Elizabeth – Dumpy La Rue

Wood, Audrey – The Napping House

Wood, Audrey – Quick as a Cricket

Recommended authors for Grade 1

Eric Carl ; P. D. Eastman; Dr. Seuss; Kevin Henkes; Laura Joffe Numeroff; Rosemary Wells

Recommended Series for Grade 1

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin – Biscuit

Gantos, Jack – Rotten Ralph

Lobel, Arnold – Frog and Toad All Year

Minarik, Else Holmelund – Little Bear. Pictures by Maurice Sendak (A family favorite!)

Rey, H. A. (Hans Augusto) – Curious George

Rylant, Cynthia – Henry and Mudge



Allard, Harry – Miss Nelson is Back

Allard, Harry – Miss Nelson is Missing!

Arnold, Tedd – No More Water in the Tub!

Arnold, Tedd – The Signmaker’s Assistant

Bercaw, Edna Coe – Halmoni’s Day

Brown, Jeff – Flat Stanley

Cannon, Janell – Stellaluna

Creech, Sharon – Fishing in the Air

Ehlert, Lois – Waiting for Wings

Finchler, Judy – Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10

Guarino, Deborah – Is Your Mama a llama?

Hale, Bruce – The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse

Kvasnosky, Laura McGee – Zelda and Ivy

Leedy, Loreen – Mapping Penny’s World

Lester, Helen – Tacky the Penguin

Markle, Sandra – Outside and Inside Dinosaurs

Palatini, Margie – The Web Files

Prelutsky, Jack – It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles : Poems

Seeger, Pete – Abiyoyo

Silverstein, Shel – The Giving Tree

Simont, Marc – The Stray Dog : From a True Story by Reiko Sassa

Wood, Audrey – King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub

Recommended series for Grade 2

Barrows, Annie – Ivy + Bean

Danziger, Paula – Amber Brown is not a Crayon

Gantos, Jack – Rotten Ralph

Hoban, Russell – Bedtime for Frances

Lobel, Arnold – Frog and Toad are Friends

McDonald, Megan – Judy Moody ( A funny series! 🙂 )

Meadows, Daisy – The Rainbow Magic Collection. Volume 1 , Books 1-4

Meddaugh, Susan – Martha Speaks

Minarik, Else Holmelund – Little Bear. Pictures by Maurice Sendak

Osborne, Mary Pope – Dinosaurs Before Dark

Parish, Peggy – Amelia Bedelia

Park, Barbara – Junie B. Jones and the stupid Smelly Bus

Preller, James – The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster

Rylant, Cynthia – Henry and Mudge

Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman – Nate the Great

Zion, Gene – Harry, the Dirty Dog


Grade 3

Allard, Harry – Miss Nelson is Missing!

Artell, Mike – Petite Rouge : a Cajun Red Riding Hood

Barrett, Judi – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Blume, Judy – Freckle Juice

Cameron, Ann – The Stories Julian Tells

Cherry, Lynne – The Great Kapok Tree : A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest

Cole, Joanna – Bony-legs

Dahl, Roald – Fantastic Mr. Fox

Ernst, Lisa Campbell – Little Red Riding Hood : A Newfangled Prairie Tale

Etra, Jonathan – Aliens for Breakfast

Ferris, Jeri – Go Free or Die : A Story about Harriet Tubman

Ferris, Jeri – What are you Figuring Now?

Ferris, Jeri – Walking the Road to Freedom : A Story about Sojourner Truth

Fleming, Denise – Where Once there was a Wood

Frasier, Debra – Miss Alaineus : A Vocabulary Disaster

George, Jean Craighead – Look to the North : A Wolf Pup Diary

Giff, Patricia Reilly – Oh Boy, Boston!

Hopkins, Lee Bennett – Sports! Sports! Sports! : A  Poetry Collection

Kline, Suzy – Horrible Harry and the Dungeon

Krull, Kathleen – Wilma Unlimited : How Wilma Rudolph became the World’s Fastest Woman

MacLachlan, Patricia – Sarah, Plain and Tall

McGill, Alice – Molly Bannaky

Polacco, Patricia – The Keeping Quilt

Polacco, Patricia – The Bee Tree

Robinson, Barbara – The Best School Year Ever

Rockwell, Thomas – How to Eat Fried Worms

Rodowsky, Colby F – Not my Dog

Seattle, Chief – Brother Eagle, Sister Sky : A Message from Chief Seattle

White, E. B. (Elwyn Brooks) – Charlotte’s wWb

Yolen, Jane – Letting Swift River Go

Recommended series for Grade 3

Adler, David A – Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds

Dadey, Debbie – Monsters don’t Scuba Dive

Danziger, Paula – Amber Brown is not a Crayon

Landon, Lucinda – Meg Mackintosh and the Case of the Missing Babe Ruth Baseball : A Solve-it-Yourself Mystery

Osborne, Mary Pope – Dinosaurs before Dark

Peterson, John Lawrence – The Littles

Preller, James – The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster

Roy, Ron – The Absent Author

Sachar, Louis – Marvin Redpost : Kidnapped at Birth?

Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman – Nate the Great

Sobol, Donald J. – Encyclopedia Brown- Boy Detective

Warner, Gertrude Chandler – The Boxcar Children


Recommended authors for Grade 3

Matt Christopher, Beverly Cleary, Barbara Cooney, Robert McCloskey, Patricia McKissack, Allen Say, Jon Scieszka, William Steig, and Chris Van Allsburg.



Barasch, Lynne – Radio Rescue

Blume, Judy – Fudge-a-Mania

Coville, Bruce – My Teacher is an Alien

Dahl, Roald – James and the Giant Peach

Erickson, John R. – The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

Howe, Deborah – Bunnicula : A Rabbit Tale of Mystery

Lowry, Lois – Anastasia Krupnik

MacLachlan, Patricia – Caleb’s Story

O’Brien, Patrick – The Hindenburg

O’Brien, Robert C – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Richler, Mordecai – Jacob Two-Two meets the Hooded Fang

Sachar, Louis – Sideways Stories from Wayside School

St. George, Judith – So you want to be President?

Tang, Greg – The Grapes of Math : Mind Stretching Math Riddles

Thayer, Ernest Lawrence – Casey at the Bat


Recommended Series for Grade 4

Abbott, Tony – The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet

Gutman, Dan – Jim & Me : A Baseball Card Adventure

Gutman, Dan – My Weird School Daze!

Osborne, Mary Pope – Dinosaurs before Dark

Scieszka, Jon – Knights of the Kitchen Table

Snicket, Lemony – The Bad Beginning

Wilder, Laura Ingalls – Little House on the Prairie


Grade 5

■Avi – Never Mind! : A Twin Novel

Berlin, Eric – The Puzzling World of Winston Breen

Birdsall, Jeanne – The Penderwicks : A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

Bosch, Pseudonymous – The Name of this Book is Secret

Broach, Elise – Masterpiece

Clements, Andrew – No Talking

Codell, Esme Raji – Vive la Paris

Davies, Nicola – Extreme Animals : The Toughest Creatures on Earth

Erdrich, Louise – The Birchbark House

Fleischman, Sid – Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini

Going, K. L. (Kelly L.) – The Liberation of Gabriel King

Gutman, Dan – The Kid who ran for President

Haven, Paul – Two Hot Dogs with Everything

Ibbotson, Eva – The Haunting of Granite Falls

Janeczko, Paul B – A Kick in the Head: an Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

Juster, Norton – The Phantom Tollbooth

Lange, Karen E – 1607 : A New Look at Jamestown

Lowry, Lois – The Willoughbys

Mercado, Nancy E. – Tripping over the Lunch Lady : and other school stories

Park, Linda Sue – Project Mulberry : A Novel

Yue, Guo – Little Leap Forward : A Boy in Beijing


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Recommended Level Books with Some of our Favorite Series for Pre-K to Grade 8

Working in education for many years and being an ELA teacher, I love to read, recommend and talk books with students of all ages.  I have compiled a list of books based on what students say they are reading as we go into schools, and some of my personal favorites that I have utilized in the classroom or read at home.  Unlock the Teacher loves to share the good in education, so we would love to know some of your favorite reads too.

Given that the holidays are just around the corner, please share your favorite books with us and we will post it here as we compile a Christmas Must Have List for Readers of All Ages


“Mrs. Bindergarten gets Ready for Kindergarten” by Joseph Slate

“Here we go Around the Mulberry Bush” by Will Hillenbrand

The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn

“Dragon’s Alphabet Soup~Learn the ABC’s” an eBook by Rachel and Michael Yu

1st Grade

“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” an eBook  by Oceanhouse Media

Frog and Toad are Friends” by Arnold Lobel in paper or eBook format

“Biscuit” Series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

“Katie’s Exploring Adventure” an eBook written and illustrated by OLQM 1st Graders

“Katie’s Horse Adventure” an eBook written and illustrated by OLQM 1st graders

“Fox and Friends” Series by Edward Marshall

“Frog and Toad” Series  (My daughter loved this series.)

2nd Grade

“Biscuit” Series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

“Little Critter” Series by Mercer Mayer

“Dragon” Series by Dav Pilkey

“Henry and Mudge” Series by Cynthia Rylant

Robert Munsch Books

Keven Henkes Books

“Nate the Great” Series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (My son loved this series.)

3rd/4th Grade

“Horrible Harry” Series by Suzie Kline

“Judy Moody” Series by Megan McDonald

“Cam Jansen” Series by David Adler

“Jigsaw Jones Mystery” Series by James Prellar

“Magic Tree House” Series by Mary Pope Osborn (paperback and eBook form) *Great to enhance imagination

“Junie B. Jones” Series by Barbara Park *Funny and good vocabulary builder

“Stink” Series by Megan McDonald

“Franny K. Stein” Series by Jim Benton

Matt Christopher Books

“Rainbow Magic” Series by Daisey Meadows

“The Adventures of the Beailey School Kids” Books by Debbie Dadey and Mearcia Thorton Jones

“Flat Stanley” Series by Jeff Brown

“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” Series by Betty MacDonald

“Pony Pals” Series by Jeanne Betancourt

“My Weird School” and “My Weird Daze” Series by Dan Gutman

“Nancy Drew” and “Clue Crew” by Carolyn Keene

“A to Z Mystery” Series by Ron Roy

“Black Lagoon Adventures” Series by Mike Thaler

“Katie Kazoo Switcheroo” Series by Nancy Krulik

“Amber Brown” Series by Paula Danzinger

“The Time Warp Trio” Series by Jan Scieszka

“Spring into Art and Poetry” an eBook and Poetry Unit by Denise Ball, Trisha Vaughn, Sue Atwell @ Unlock the Teacher

“Geronimo Stilton” Series

“Encyclopedia Brown” Series by Donald Sobol

“Boxcar Children” Series by Gertrude Warner

“Clementine” Series by Sara Pennypacker

“Animal Ark” Series by Ben Baglio

“Secrets of Droon” Series by Tony Abbott

“Wayside School” Series by Louis Sachar


“The Indian in the Cupboard” Series by Lynn Banks

“Fudge” Series by Judy Blume

E.B.White Books

“Michigan and American Chillers” by Jonathan Rand

Ronald Dahl Books

Beverly Cleary Books

“Little House” Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Eleanor Estes Books

A Series of Unfortunate Events” Series by Lemony Snicket

“Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling in eBook or Paper Format

“The Ranger’s Apprentice” Series *One of my favorite series!

Louis Lowry Books


“Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls

“Winning Season” Series by Rich Wallace

The Adventures of Wishbone” Series by Nancy Butcher

“Harry Potter” Series by JK Rowling

“The Ranger’s Apprentice” Series *One of my all time favorite series!

Louis Lowry Books

Here are a few good websites for additional information on leveled readers:

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,


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Filed under Curriculum Resources, Educational Websites and Resources, Leveled Reading Lists, Recommended Books for Ages 8-15, Recommended Books to Read, to Learn, to Inspire

We Have Found an Amazing 7 Year-Old Writer and Her Mom Writes Too…Check out Her Blog

In one of our Writing Workshops in May, I was thrilled to spend time with Amy Foret.  She is a young mom who is a wife and a mother of two. Her articulate and well-read daughter is 7 and she has an amazing son who is 5.

Her daughter started reading when she was only 3 1/2, and has been writing stories since she started kindergarten. Now she is in second grade. She reads about a book a night, and writes at least one short story a week.

Please check out and welcome these new writers to WordPress and the writing arena.

For all of our readers who love to get great ideas on books to utilize in classroom or read to your child, we highly recommend Amy’s blog MY Garden Patch of Books.

Please check it our and share your thoughts here on your great reading finds 🙂

I am on my way to VA to meet with Trisha and conduct some Unlock the Teacher LLC “How to ePublish” Workshops…

Stay tuned as the next Katie’s Adventure eBook is almost ready to hit Barnes and  The OLQM first graders who wrote and illustrated the book did an amazing job!

You learn something every day if you pay attention.  ~Ray LeBlond

May we seek knowledge in all things,


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“All Around our Town” to Launch the 1st of March in 2011

My community has many beautiful parks.

All proceeds from the eBook for  “All Around our Town”  will be donated to St. Mary’s School in Royal Oak, Michigan.  This school has a wonderful curriculum plan that incorporates art and reading across the curriculum. 

The art teachers exhibits a passion for her craft and enjoys showcasing the many beautiful art projects created by her students. The 7th and 8th graders are so well read in this building, I enjoy stopping in to ask them what they are reading and why.  I can not wait to see what wonderful ways this building will utilize our gift.

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things-



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