Welcome to my virtual library! My name is Shay Denney. I’m a preservice teacher with a mad love of words in any format. Here is where I plan to store all of my favorite books for a variety of levels.
This story is infuriatingly relatable. It is great for sparking discussions on life experiences, especially at the age of many first time older siblings. Protagonist Sophie, as demonstrated by the title, gets angry at her little sister, but after removing herself from the situation, she learns to cope with her anger in a healthy way. Rated “K” on Scholastic’s guided reading scale, this is a great character building book for kindergarten and 1st grade.
Mary Pope Osborne has shaped the sense of adventure of two generations of children, and, not unlike the main characters, it was all from the touch of a book. The Magic Treehouse series is on the 2nd grade reading level and is excellent for an option of independent reading as well as working towards a reading goal.
I am a huge fan of the Pete the Cat series to begin with, but this installment in particular I feel sets an easy, positive tone for the first day of school. No obstacle can stop Pete from having the best day at school ever! Scholastic rates Rocking in My School Shoes a level “K” on its shared reading scale, and recommends it for pre-kindergarten to second grade. I think this would be a great source to pull art, early writing, and music activities from!
Spinelli’s Sophie’s Masterpiece is a work of compassion, though it might spark a bit of hesitation from only the cover, given that the protagonist (Sophie) is a spider. This book is great for character education as well as setting the tone of a safe space in the classroom, as it promotes kindness, acceptance, and not to judge a book by its cover. The guided reading level, according to Scholastic, is “L” and is best for grades from Kindergarten to 2nd.
The Junie B. Jones series never fails to earn a giggle from students when they read or hear about her shenanigans navigating through Kindergarten. This book in particular is one of my favorites, because I love any holiday-themed work! Rated as an “M” on Scholastic’s guided reading scale, The Mushy Gushy Valentine is best for 1st and 2nd grade and could inspire multiple Valentine’s Day themed activities.
Shel Silverstein captured the hearts of families from far and wide with his book The Giving Tree. Where the Sidewalk Ends is no different, despite being very different. This collection of poetry and simplistic illustrations ranges from funny to raw to very, very real. This would be a great introduction to a poetry unit for 3rd grade, which is around the grade I believe I first encountered it, and Scholastic has labeled it a “Q” on their guided reading scale.
Amazing Grace is truly special. This story is not only great for character building, but it touches on the importance of gender and racial equality and acceptance in the most honest of ways. This is spectacular for a social studies lesson as well as promoting reading between the lines. This inspiring tale of Grace, a confident adventure-seeker and lover of all stories, is ranked at an “L” on Scholastic’s guided reading scale and is appropriate for all elementary grades.
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a work of art—quite literally, because his illustrations have a lasting effect on the story and its readers. This simplistic story is great for demonstrating the differences between genres such as fantasy and realistic fiction, and could be used for creative drawing or writing projects. Scholastic places this book in the J category of guided reading, and recommends its usage in grades as early as pre-kindergarten to as high as fifth grade, depending on which content area the teacher wishes to pull from.
Thirteen letters make up Chrysanthemum’s name, and her bravery is just as extraordinary! Henkes’ tale follows Chrysanthemum as she grows up with confidence, only to have it broken when she encounters teasing at school. This is a wonderful story for Kindergarten through 2nd grade, Scholastic labeling it an “M” on their guided reading scale. Not only is it great for character education, but there is also a great opportunity to integrate a math lesson by numbering off the amount of letters in students’ names!
Wemberly Worried is my absolute favorite character building book for younger grades! I think, specifically, it is a great icebreaker for the first day of school, as our protagonist spends a large part of the story worrying about her own first day! Wemberly is very relatable, and sparked a lot of personal connections with my Kindergarteners when I shared it with them last semester! Its level is K through 2nd, according to Scholastic’s Guided Reading scale.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a clever read for upper grades (and even adults!) about a little girl with a passion for knowledge so big, one could even say it is magical. It is on the 3rd grade shared reading level, and 5th for independent, according to Scholastic. There are also many creative writing and character building activities one could pull from it.