Tag Archives: K-5

Stone Soup

Title: Stone Soup


Author: Jon J. Muth


Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 2003


Number of Pages: 28


Tags: Family, Friendship, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: Three monks were traveling down a mountain road and saw a village that had noticeably been through a lot of things such as famine, floods, and war.  These hard times had made the villagers suspicious of their neighbors and people began to lose friendship. When the monks came into the village everyone had gone inside and locked their doors to keep the monks out.  So to counter the villagers the monks decided they would teach them a lesson on happiness by making stone soup. The monks gathered tools and started a fire and a young girl came up to see what they were doing, so they asked her to help them find three stones, but then they realized they needed a bigger pot, and so the young girl got a bigger pot from her mother.  As more people saw what was going on outside they came out to inspect, and then the monks said they needed more ingredients that they did not have, so the villagers banded together and filled the soup with so many ingredients and everyone brought something and it turned into a small village festival where the villagers talked and shared stories and became friends again.


Classroom Application:  This story shares a good lesson that everyone has something to bring to the table, whether it be carrots for a soup or a pencil for class.  It shows to never shut people out because the people can bring so many things to you and the world so give everyone a chance to show what they can bring.  It is captivating how something as simple as stone soup brought a village that had be separated back together in just one night. It shows that it just takes the effort.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book could be used as a good introduction to monks.  Although this book doesn’t specify where the monks are from or any of their beliefs it shows that they spread happiness, “What makes one happy, Siew?”  They are genuinely concerned and interested about what makes people happy so they go and explore it and help a broken village come together. The villagers, much being of different professions, at the beginning of the story did not fraternize with each other, but by the end they had unlocked their doors, “Then they unlocked their doors and took the monks into their homes and gave them very comfortable places to sleep.”  They had previously locked their doors and tightened their windows shut to the monks, but the monks changed them and brought the good out of them.

Hidden Figures

Title: Hidden Figures


Author: Margot Lee Shetterly


Illustrator: Laura Freeman


Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2018


Number of pages: 30


Tags: Culture, Diversity, Math, Non-fiction, Science, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about four black women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden.  These four women were some of the first black women to become engineers, and make strides in space and airplane technology. No background knowledge is needed for this because there is no actual math or science in this story, just a lot of mention of it because of how complicated the math they were doing is.


Classroom Application:  This story has many classroom applications including history, math, and science.  It could be used to tell the story of these four intelligent women or show real world applications of math and science.  Also could be used to show african american scientists and mathematicians to show that they are indeed out there.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book represents african american culture and some of their struggles to gain equality in the workplace and in the world.  Since this story takes place during the 1950’s, it can help show the fight for equality in America, and also can show the discrimination they felt by being segregated from white people, “They could not eat in the same restaurants.  They could not drink from the same water fountains. They could not use the same restrooms.” This shows the segregation in America at the time, and helps to show how important it was for these women to do what they did. These women did amazing work and helped bring men to the moon and back down to earth, and advancing airplanes to prevent more crashes, among many other things, “No one knows how many lives her work may have helped save.”  Talking about Katherine Johnson and her work, and no one can truly tally just many lives she saved, and no one probably even mentions it.

Image result for hidden figures book

We’re All Wonders

Title: We’re All Wonders


Author: R.J. Palacio


Illustrator: R.J. Palacio


Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2012


Number of Pages: 31


Tags/Theme: Adventure, Fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a young boy named Auggie and he doesn’t look the same as most kids.  Auggie only has one eye and calls himself a wonder. Although he doesn’t only call himself a wonder, he says everyone is a wonder.  He wants everyone to know that even though he doesn’t like everyone else, he does all of the things they do.


Classroom Application: This can be used to show students that everyone should be accepted in the classroom no matter who they are or how they look.  It is important to give everyone a shot and to respect everyone in the class and in the world.


Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is a easy read.  The sentences are short and each page has a few sentences.  Auggie just wants to show everyone that he is just like them, “Sure, I do ordinary things.  I ride a bike. I eat ice cream. I play ball.” Auggie is showing that he does any ordinary thing that kids his age do like riding his bike and playing ball.  He just wants to show that he and everyone else is a wonder in their own way. He just wants people to accept him, “… people can change they way they see. If they do, they’ll see that I’m a wonder.”  He justs wants to show that he is a wonder and that he is just like everyone else.

As Good as Anybody

Title: As Good as Anybody


Author: Richard Michelson


Illustrator: Raul Colon


Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2008

Number of Pages: 34


Tags/Theme: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: This story starts out with a young Martin Luther King Jr. and him living with segregation and how it’s not fair to all people to treat people like this.  Then he grows up and becomes a Pastor like his father and starts lobbying for civil rights. Then it goes to Abraham Joshua Heschel in Poland and how he had to deal with segregation for being Jewish.  Then he grew up and came to America and along with Martin Luther King Jr. marched for freedom.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and also teach about Abraham Joshua Heschel.  This story also can be used to teach that if you want something to change for the better that you should do something about it like these two men did.  

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book could be used to generate discussion on the civil rights movement and its leaders like Martin Luther King Jr..  It could also be used to discuss the discrimination against jews in Europe. It sends a good message throughout, at the beginning Martin’s father tells him, “You’re looking down when you should be looking up.”  He’s telling him to keep his chin up and be proud of who you are because you are someone, and everyone is someone. Another good quote from this is, “Walk like a prince, not like a peasant.” It brings the same message of keep your head up and be proud of who you are.  Abraham’s father told him that and Abraham made sure to walk with his head up.

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Title: Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story


Author: Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus


Illustrator: Evan Turk


Publisher and Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016


Number of Pages: 36


Tags/Theme: Adventure, Culture, Family, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras


Descriptive Annotation: The main character is Gandhi’s grandson and he accompanies his grandfather on his trips.  His grandson follows all of his grandfather’s teachings and the story focuses mainly on their vow to be non-violent and not waste.  Then one day while walking home he through his pencil away into the field, which was wasteful, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.  When his grandfather found out he made him go back and find it and then taught him how being wasteful can lead to violence. His grandson then knew that it was important to follow his grandfathers teachings and keep his vows.


Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Gandhi and also to not be wasteful because Gandhi in the story shows the impacts of being wasteful.  Gandhi shows him that it can affect others and that it is important to keep your vows as well.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  This book shows some of the teachings of Gandhi and the importance of them. The two things that are focused on are to not be wasteful and be non-violent.  Gandhi explains to his grandson that his actions can affect other people. Before Gandhi talked to him he did not realize what his actions could do, “Soon I could see how throwing my pencil away could hurt others.”  Gandhi showed him how throwing and wasting his pencil could eventually hurt others teaching his grandson that it is important to not waste things. The tone of this book is very light and Gandhi is trying to help his grandson learn throughout the story.  At the end of the story he tells him, “Be the change you wish to see in the world, Arun.” This was one of Gandhi’s sayings and shows how he dedicated his life to teaching others.

In the Time of the Drums

Title: In the Time of the Drums

Author: Kim L. Siegelson

Illustrator: Brian Pinkney

Publisher and Year: Hyperion Books for Children 1999

Number of Pages: 30

Tags/Theme: Award Book, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, K-5, Joe Marras

Genre: Fable

Descriptive Annotation: There is a older woman, Twi, and her grandson, Mentu, and they are on an island near the Teakettle Creek where ships often land to bring slaves to work on the islands plantations.  Mentu was born on the island, but Twi was born in Africa and longs for her home. She teaches Mentu a lot of his culture and to respect and cherish his culture. One day a Spanish ship lands with Ibo people on it and they are singing for their home, and it rings hard with Twi and calls to her.  It urges her to journey home, so she joins hands with the Ibo people and leads them into the Teakettle Creek and walk down and through the water towards their home. They soon disappear in the water and hopefully to their homes.

Classroom Application: This story is good for the class probably during Black History Month, but also any time of the year.  This book can introduce slavery, but also teach about how important it is to hold on to culture and cherish and celebrate it and never let it go no matter how hard things get.  

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story is a Gullah tale that has been passed down orally for generations, so this story shows another culture and can introduce slavery to younger kids, and also African cultures, “Because then the old ways will try to grow weak inside of you.  Don’t let ‘em! Takes a mighty strength not to forget who you are. Where you come from. To help others remember it, too.” Twi is telling Mentu that it is important to remember who he is and how important that is and to not forget it no matter how hard things get.  I think this is an important lesson to remember and celebrate cultures.

“ “we are home! We are home!” the people drummed. But they were far from home.”  This helps show that this book has a sad, but real and truthful tone. The author doesn’t dress anything about slavery up, and shows it in its true colors which I think makes the message so much stronger and real.

Cooper’s Lesson

Title: Cooper’s Lesson

Author:  Sun Yung Shin

Illustrator: Kim Cogan

Publication/ Year: Children’s Book Press, 2004

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Culture, Diversity, Family, Emotion, Fiction, Friendship, Picture Book, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book follows the story of Cooper, a young boy who is half Korean and half white. His mother sends him out to a store where the store owner only speaks Korean. But Cooper’s Korean is pretty poor and he gets stressed out and thinks the other people in the store are laughing at him because he is not good at speaking Korean. So he tries to steal a brush, but ends up making friends with the storekeeper. Together, he learns Korean and helps the storekeeper around the store in order to make up for trying to steal. The book is written in both Korean and English.

Classroom Application: This book would be very good to use in a classroom where some of the students spoke Korean. It would bring to light the very real struggle that students have when they have multiple racial backgrounds and struggle with identity. By being in both Korean and English, it allows the book to be more accessible to students who maybe speak just Korean, or are learning English as a Second Language. Additionally, it is a good book for English readers to read because it reveals some of the struggle that millions of people have when they are either from, or their parents are from, different parts of the world.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Having the book written in both English and Korean allows the book to be accessible for people who speak either (or both!) languages. It also can help strengthen the understanding of one (or the other) language, because the reader could read both, reading the language they understand less of first, and then reading their more comfortable language second, checking for understanding. It addresses diversity issues very head-on because there are several points where the store owner tells the boy that he, too, struggled with languages and figuring out what to call himself. This identity struggle seems to be common for people who are any ethnicity other than white, and this book does a beautiful job addressing that and letting the reader know that it is normal and okay to struggle with language and sense of belonging.


I Miss You

Title: I Miss You

Author:  Pat Thomas

Illustrator: Pat Thomas

Publication/ Year: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2001

Number of Pages: 29

Tags/ Themes: Emotion, Family, Non-Fiction, K-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:   This straightforward book walks through the young reader with how to deal with death. It begins with a brief explanation of what death is, and then moves on to how it is natural to grieve or feel angry or blame yourself. It explains that even though people might not talk to you as much, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they don’t know what to say. This book also does a very good job of explaining how different cultures believe different things happen after death, and different cultures do different things to the dead body. The book concludes by saying that it is okay to move on, because they will always be with you in your heart, just by thinking or remembering them. The book includes questions directed to the reader (such as, “Do you know anyone who has died?”) and a list of suggestions of how to use this book best.

Classroom Application: This book would be more appropriate to use on a student-to-student basis. Perhaps one of the students just had a grandparent pass away. This might be a good opportunity to bring this book in and give it to their parent, to have them share it with the student. Or, if your relationship with the student was close enough, you could talk through it with them. Or, you could give it to a school counselor and have this book be an aide to the grieving process. It focuses more on the Social an Emotional Learning Standards because this is about dealing with grief and other emotions. Because this book has questions directed to the reader, it could be good to help them process out loud what is going on and what they are feeling. It is also very good because it is important for kids to recognize their emotions and feelings rather than shoving them away and ignoring them.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book has terrific cultural diversity! Not only does it explain how different cultures believe in different things after death, but it also explains that different cultures grieve differently, and that is okay! Because no matter where the person really ends up going, the important part is that the people who love them are honoring their lives in their own special way. Additionally, the book illustrates many different ethnicities, which is good because it makes the book more approachable for all readers (not just white people have people die!). This also could help spur conversation about different religions and cultures and diversity in the classroom. The language of this book is simple and to the point. It is blunt, but gentle. Death is a very tricky subject to talk about, but I think this book handles it quite well, and it opens the door for a good discussion to be had about it.


The Way to Start A Day

Title: The Way to Start A Day

Author:  Byrd Baylor

Illustrator: Peter Parnall

Publication/ Year: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1977

Number of Pages: 27

Tags/ Themes: Award Book, Culture, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, Poetry, K-5

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This book received a Caldecott Honor Award for its stunning simplistic illustrations. This book describes the best way to start off your day, by greeting the sunrise. Every illustration is of a different culture and how they greeted the start of a day, but all the illustrations are in simple line drawings with vivid colors to accentuate them. The story talks about cavemen, Peruvian, Mexican, Egyptian, Conga, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and many other traditions of people and how their cultures welcome the dawn of a new day.  Students may need to know a little bit about some of the cultures or at least have an understanding of how many different cultures there are around the world.

Classroom Application: This book would be really good to use to help inform students that everyone will have different traditions and cultures and that is okay! Because even though cultures are very varied and unique, they all share some similarities if you look hard enough. We are all people under the same sun, and it is important to acknowledge and respect other cultures as different from your own, but still special and wonderful! It could meet some social and emotional learning standards by talking about different cultures which may relate to some of my students’ cultures, which may not get represented in books that much. I would use this book to start a conversation between people. How do you start your day? Is there anything special you do at the start of any day? What about your grandparents? We could turn it into a writing prompt as well by reflecting about what cultures you’ve witnessed and what you participate in.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:  The language in this book is beautiful. It is very poetic, with phrases such as,

“And everywhere

They knew

To turn

Their faces


As the sun

Came up.”

This style is consistent throughout the book, adding pauses and beauty to the language that we don’t usually see in these books. There are many different cultures represented in this book, as I have mentioned, which is very good because it is important to expose young readers to books with a lot of diversity in them. The way the book is written provokes a calming tone to the reader, soothing and relaxing, almost meditative in a way. This is also important because it associates that calm and relaxed emotion with different cultures.


And Tango Makes Three

Title: And Tango Makes Three

Author:  Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell

Illustrator: Henry Cole

Publication/ Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

Number of Pages: 28

Tags/ Themes: Animals, Award Book, Diversity, Family, Non-Fiction, Picture book, K-5

Genre: Non-Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: At the beginning of the book I found myself rolling my eyes, thinking this was just another story about a man and a woman who fell in love. But I was quickly surprised! It follows the story of two male penguins, Roy and Silo, who fall in love and want a baby. Finally, the zookeeper gives them another penguin’s egg and they have the baby they have always wished for. At the end of the book, there is an author’s note which explains that all of these events are things that truly did happen in the Central Park Zoo. Students wouldn’t necessarily need any background knowledge, just an open mind.

Classroom Application: This book would be great to use when teaching acceptance and appreciation of everyone regardless of what their preferences are. It appeals more to the Social and Emotional Learning Standards, encouraging kids to both see and accept others for who they are and also to be proud and confident in themselves, regardless of if they are part of the “norm” or not. This book would be great to start a conversation about social justice issues, and I could tie it in to a social studies lesson talking about gay rights or other civil rights movements. Additionally, it makes me wonder about how different species are wired psychologically! I bet there are more examples out there of animals showing gay tendencies! I might encourage someone to do research on that and see if they can bring any other information forward (if it was an older class).

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: As I mentioned before, this has great cultural diversity. In my opinion, there are not nearly enough books which depict homosexual love. In our society today, the LGBTQ+ population is bigger than ever, probably because more are willing to be open and honest about who they are. Despite this, there is still a ton of prejudice and discrimination against us. By using books which open kids’ eyes from an early age, such as this one, showing that love is love no matter what, it will help society continue to grow more and more accepting of everyone, despite our differences.