Tag Archives: K-1

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

Title: Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin


Author: Duncan Tonatiuh


Publisher and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers 2010


Number of Pages: 27


Tags: Award Book, Culture, Family, Friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a very simple story about two cousins, one that lives in Mexico and one that lives in New York City, that write each other letters telling each other what they do in their lives.  They have many similarities in what they do, but they can differ on how they do them. They both are very interested in one another and want to have their Primo, cousin in spanish, visit them sometime soon.


Classroom Application: This can be used to show similarities among kids throughout the world.  Both kids went to school, had recess, went to the store/market, but they just differ on how or what they do while there.  In New York they play basketball at recess, but in Mexico they play soccer, but they are both playing games at recess! This can also be used to introduce students to the spanish language as there are many spanish words throughout the story as well as pictures labeled so they can know what the word means.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents Mexican and American culture, but I can see how it can be used to show that kids across the world are more alike than they know.  “Every morning I ride my bicicleta to school.” “I ride the subway to school. The subway is like a long metal snake, and it travels through tunnels underground.” They both go to school, but they get there differently, and they are both exciting ways of getting to school.  In Mexico his favorite meal is quesadillas, and in America his favorite is pizza. It brings to light the similar things they do, and shows that they do them in different ways sometimes and that is perfectly okay and exciting.


Title: Pigsty


Author: Mark Teague


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc. 1994


Number of pages: 28


Tags: Animals, Fiction, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation:  Young Wendell has a very very messy room that isn’t just messy, it’s a pigsty.  His mother tells him to clean it, but it doesn’t bother him so he doesn’t. Then one day a pig shows up to hang out, and since the pig doesn’t mind the mess either he stays.  Wendell keeps stuffing things to the side and under his bed, and then even more pigs show up. At first they have fun and play games, but later the pigs start to ruin his things like chewing his baseball cards, sitting on his basketball, and getting hoof prints on his comic books.  Wendell finally has enough of it and with the help of his pig friends they clean his room and the pigs get on their way.


Classroom Application:  For young students this shows a valuable lesson of staying clean and organized because when things start to get messy, that is when things start to get ruined and crazy.  Also in this book Wendell when cleaning his room remembers something he heard in school, “many hooves make light work.” Showing that teamwork makes the dream work and the more the merrier.  


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Wendell is like most young children that don’t want to clean their room or organize all of their toys and things because who wants to do that!  I see myself in Wendell and I’m sure that many young students will see the same thing that he is much like them. It is a very light read containing very easy words and simple sentences, “Wendle could hardly believe his luck. “Now I can live however I want.” ”   This is when his mother told him that if he wants to live in a pigsty then it’s his own decision and Wendell is all for it! It is very funny and goofy, and the pigs are drawn to be very funny and especially lazy. Also when Wendell finally has had enough of living in a pigsty and needs to clean his room he remembers something he heard in school, “many hooves make light work.”  So with the help of the pigs he makes quick work of his messy room and learns a lesson that it is important to be organized.

The King’s Commissioners

Title: The King’s Commissioners


Author: Aileen Friedman


Illustrator: Susan Guevara


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press, 1994


Number of Pages: 26 Pages


Tags: Math, Fiction, Family, K-1, Joe Marras


Genre: Fiction


Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a king that has hired many commissioners to be in charge of certain silly tasks such as for flat tires, chickenpox, and foul balls.  He had hired so many that he began to lose count and lose track of who was in charge of was tasks. So the king had his royal advisors summon all commissioners and have them walk through so that he and his two advisors can count.  The king’s daughter comes in and distracts him in the middle of his count so he lost his count, but at the end he had his two advisors count still. His advisors try to explain their tally marks to him, but he does not understand it until his daughter arranges it in a better way for him, and she finally explains it and he figures out how many commissioners he has.


Classroom Application: This is a good story to show applications of math in the real world.  In this story they used three different ways of tallying all of the people they counted, so it help shows multiple ways of counting which would be good for young students.  


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This is set in old times when kings and queens were still prominent, so I think that this is a good way to introduce more math concepts to young students because they probably still read and watch a lot of things involving monarchies. The tone of this book is very light and has a nice father daughter relationship which students should be able to relate to.  It is also very silly, “First came the Commissioner for Spilt Milk. He’d been very busy when the Princess was a baby.” There are a lot of goofy commissioners in the story which are very entertaining. Another quote to show the daddy-daughter relationship is, “Let me, Daddy, let me,” pleaded the Princess. The King looked down at his eager daughter and sighed. “All right, my dear.” ” The king was getting frustrated, but the Princess was there to help explain it to him.  The love between them is obvious and very affectionate.

My Pal, Victor

Title: My Pal, Victor


Author: Diane Gonzales Bertrand


Illustrator: Robert L. Sweetland


Publisher and Year: Raventree Press 2010


Number of Pages: 31


Tags/Theme: Adventure, diversity, friendship, K-1, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This book is about two friends, Dominic and Victor.  Dominic tells the reader about all of the great things about Victor: he tells great stories, has great jokes, and likes Dominic for who he is.  They are the best of friends. At the end of the story they show that Victor is in a wheelchair.


Classroom Application:  This story can be used to show that everyone should be accepted by all students no matter if they are black, white, green, yellow, or in a wheelchair.  Dominic and Victor are best of friends and Victor cheers on Dominic at his baseball games even though he is in a wheelchair and can’t play.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  Looking at the cover and reading the title it seems like this book is going to be about two friends, one American and one Mexican, but Victor is in a wheelchair and they are still best friends and do normal things that any two friends would do, “My pal, Victor tells great jokes.”  They tell jokes and laugh until their stomachs hurt just like any friends do. “My pal, Victor throws a toy for his dog to catch.” Victor plays with his dog like a lot of other people that aren’t in wheelchairs do. This book shows that even though he is in a wheelchair he can still do all of the fun things any other friend does and he is really funny!

Our People

Title: Our People

Author:  Angela Shelf Medearis

Illustrator: Michael Bryant

Publication/ Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1994

Number of Pages: 25

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, K-1, 2-3

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book is written from the perspective of the daughter, telling about what her father has told her about the history of their people. She recounts how they built pyramids in Africa, or were kings or queens or poets or artists in villages. She tells how they came across the ocean to explore the new world—this is only on one page and it is my biggest problem with the book. The way the author writes about this mass migration sounds like it was voluntary and for an adventure, not because of slavery. She does talk about slavery later, which is good, but this one part made me raise my eyebrows. The girl recounts how people were freed of slavery and went on to learn and invent things and get jobs. For each of these parts of her history she shares, she says how she wishes she could have been there to help. The book ends with her father telling her that she has a great future in front of her, and will continue bringing great things for their people.

Classroom Application: I probably would not use this book as a part of a lesson persay, but I think that a lot of the content is good for students to have access to in the classroom. It shares how creative, strong, and resilient people from African descent are. It helps teach students to be proud of their heritage, regardless of if you are the minority or not. While I have a bit of an issue with that one page described above, I think that the lesson of the book (being proud of who you are) is very important.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The illustrations in this book are beautiful. They take up most of the page, and are realistic and colorful. They both illustrate the history of their people while also showing the little girl and how she dreams of big things. I think that it is really important to have books in the classroom that are about all kinds of different people and cultures, and I think this book does a really good job of showing how much this culture has overcome.


Equal Schmequal

Title: Equal Shmequal

Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator: Philomena O’Neill

Publisher/Year: Library of Congress, 2005

Number of Pages:  32

Tags/Themes: Animals, Fantasy, Math, Picture book, K-1, 2-3, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book is about a group of animals who are trying to figure out how to make equal tug of war teams. At the end of the book there is a special note with the literal definition of the word equal. This is important because they talk about different kinds of equality throughout the book, equal number, equal size, equal weight, equal effort, etcetera. Students would not necessarily need to have any background knowledge of this book, but I would make it a point to make sure that they understand what the word equal means by the end of the book.

Classroom Application:  This book would be a good way to introduce a math lesson on what it means to be equal. Because it discusses numbers and halves, it would be appropriate for a younger audience. Additionally, I would use  part of the text which I disagree with to create a mini lesson. At one point, mouse says, “Equal means fair”, which I definitely do not agree with. I understand, for the purpose of the book, why the author said this. However, in the classroom setting, fair is not always equal because different students need different accommodations! So I would still use this book to help introduce the concept of equality in terms of math, but I would use that part to show that Mouse wasn’t right about that all the time.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: At the beginning of the book, Mouse is watching children play on the playground. The illustrator portrayed them as being many different races. This is important because the ethnic makeup of the classroom is likely to be diverse, so by using books which also show diversity it helps students understand that it doesn’t matter what color you are! The language in the book is easy to read, as demonstrated in this line, “Bear walked out from the trees. ‘What do you want to play?’”. However, the size of the text is on the smaller side and there is a lot of text on each page which could make it challenging for some students in lower grades. This book might be a good one to read out loud and have kids make predictions about what is going to happen next.


The Hanukkah Trike

Title: The Hanukkah Trike

Author(s): Michelle Edwards

Illustrator/Photographer: Kathryn Mitter

Publisher and Year: Albert Whitman & Company; 2010

Number of Pages: 21

Tags: Culture, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, K-1, 2-3, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

The Hanukkah Trike is a story about a young girl and her family as they celebrate Hanukkah. They light the menorah, make traditional Hanukkah food, and retell the story of the Maccabees. Gabi, the daughter, receives a tricycle that she names Hanukkah, and she takes it out the next day to ride it. When she falls off, her father reminds her of the story of the Maccabees and how brave they were, and eventually Gabi learns how to ride her trike. This story doesn’t require much prior knowledge, since the story of the Maccabees and the origination of Hanukkah is explained in the story, although some familiarity with Jewish culture would be helpful.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used to reinforce lessons on Hanukkah, as part of a holiday unit and teaching about other cultures. This story also addresses the idea of being brave, which is something that classes could talk about as an SELS. This story could be used to introduce students to trying again after failing or picking yourself back up after something goes wrong.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

The Hanukkah Trike is all about Jewish culture and their holiday, Hanukkah. In areas where there is not a huge Jewish population, many students may not know about Hanukkah or how it is celebrated. This story addresses common traditions, like making latkes. The text shares how “Gabi helped Daddy grate the potatoes. Mama made the batter and fried the latkes golden and crisp” (page 5). The book also shares the story of the Maccabees, their victory, and “the miracle of the light that burned for eight nights” (page 9).


A Gift From Abuela

Title: A Gift from Abuela

Author(s): Cecelia Ruiz

Illustrator/Photographer: Cecelia Ruiz

Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press, 2018

Number of Pages: 30

Tags: Culture, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Picture Book, K-1, 2-3, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

This book is written mainly in English but it has some Spanish vocabulary throughout the story. A Gift from Abuela is about a grandmother and granddaughter who spent a lot of time together when Niña was a little girl. As she got older, they grew apart and Abuela wanted to get Niña a present, so she tried to save a little money each week but eventually she fell on hard times, did not have any extra money to save, and forgot where she had hidden her saved money. The currency in Mexico changed, and the money Abuela had saved became worthless. One day, Niña found the worthless money and she and Abuela used it to make a craft they used to make when Niña was a young girl.

Classroom Application:

This text could be used in the classroom to reinforce a lesson on Mexico or a lesson on basic Spanish vocabulary. At younger ages, many students may have never left the country, so this story could give them a glimpse into Mexican culture. It could also give an insight into Mexican history, as the book mentions life in Mexico becoming increasingly difficult and the government changing the currency.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book clearly represents the culture of Mexico and the people who live there. The illustrations show a Spanish town with shops that have Spanish names, while the story tells of favorite things to do and eat in Mexico. Abuela “liked teaching Niña how to make papel picado banners” (page 5) and at the end, “with the old bills, Niña and Abuela made the most beautiful papel picado banners” (page 27). I would ask the students if anyone had ever been to Mexico or knew someone from Mexico, or ask if anyone could speak Spanish or knew a few words of it. I could also simply just ask the class what prior knowledge anyone has about Mexico.



Title: Eraser

Author(s): Anna Kang

Illustrator/Photographer: Christopher Weyant

Publisher and Year: Two Lions, 2018

Number of Pages: 38

Tags: Fiction, Fine Arts, Friendship, Picture Book, K-1, 1-2, 2-3, Sarah Luce

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:

Eraser is a story about school supplies that all work together to create projects and complete homework, but Eraser feels left out and unimportant. Many of the other utensils exclude Eraser from meetings and activities so she eventually decides to run away. She meets the Rough Drafts and they all admire her and show Eraser her worth and how useful she is. The rest of the school supplies also realize their need for Eraser and she comes back to the desk and is included into the group. Students reading this book will enjoy it more if they have a grasp of puns and word play.

Classroom Application:

This text could easily be used to reinforce inclusion within the classroom. Nearly all students are aware of the importance of erasers and they understand that all their school supplies have individual uses. That can be a great way to show that just like school supplies, all students are unique and bring different talents and valuable experiences to the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:

This book represents a culture and an atmosphere of inclusion. I could easily open with an activity, asking students to use a pencil with no eraser to do something where they would need to erase. After reading the book, I would also focus on the idea that all students can be included because they all bring something useful to the classroom, just like Eraser says, “I DO create. I create second chances” (page 24). The setting and characters allow the book to be easily related to, as most, if not all, students have experience using school supplies. The story is also funny, holding students’ attention, like when Scissors says, “I don’t run. EVER” (page 7).



Title: Grow

Author: Cynthia Platt

Illustrator: Olivia Holden

Publisher and Year Amicus Ink in 2018

Number of pages: 32

Tags/Themes: Fiction, K-1, Evan White

Genre: Nature, Fiction, children’s picture book

Descriptive Annotation:  A young black girl sees a plot of land in the city that was overgrown with dead grass.  The young girl decides to clear a little bit of the land to plant a flower seed.  Other people in the community notice and begin to help her and plant more flowers and regrow the grass. The plot of land brings the community together to revive the land into a beautiful park. 

Classroom Application: This text could be used to reinforce social sciences and science.  On one side it could be used to discuss urban areas and how nature is beneficial and can bring people together.  Working together in unison can result in accomplishing in beautiful creations.  On the other side, it can be used to reinforce science, but specifically with plants, and growing plants, showing the importance of growing and vitalizing a community.   The students can start a garden in school, or continue a preexisting one.  The students can garden in their homes or even create a garden in a dead space with family or friends.  They can live the book and experience how growing gardens creates community.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book represents an urban community.  The book does not give detail on the community, but from the pictures, we know the plot of dead land is massive with buildings all around.  The garden becomes beautiful and the pictures show its beauty.  A young black girl also takes the initiative on her own to revitalize the land.  She takes initiative and uses her own resources to start the garden.  By her starting the garden, she is an inspiration to others.  A very subtle way to show black girls can be an inspiration for many.  I would introduce this book by showing the class similar community gardens in cities to show this book is realistic. “When you have one good seed of an idea, another one always seems to follow” (12).  This quote shows the simplicity of the book.  It encourages the students to stick to their ideas and they will start to snowball.  With time, the good idea becomes easier and easier as help will arise. “A little seed of an idea can turn into something quite big. If only you give it room to grow” (32).  This quote drives in the simplicity of the book.  It is meant for kindergartens or first graders to be straight forward and influence them their ideas matter and can make a beautiful difference in the world.  The last page in the book is the young black girl looking into the big healthy garden she started.  The girl is so proud of herself and the hard work paid off.