Please use the links to find resource for administrators, parents, and teachers as well as one-pagers of suggested children’s books.

Children Books

“Little Libraries, Big Heroes” by Miranda Paul, Illustrated by John Parra

“Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe” by Deborah Blumenthal 

“The Quickest Kid Clarksville” 
By Pat Zietlow Miller; Illustrated By Frank Morrison

“Richard Wright And The Library Card” by Gregory Christie

“Ruth And The Green Book” By Calvin Alexander Ramsey

“The Bobbin Girl” By Emily Arnold McCully

“Brave Girl: Clara And The Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike Of 1909” By Michelle Markel

“Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story” By Caren Stelson

“The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation On Trial” By Susan E. Goodman

“I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” By Debbie Levy

“The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts To Teach The Craft Of Writing” By Ruth Culham

“New Shoes” By Susan Lynn Meyer

“Trombone Shorty” By Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

“Funny Bones: Posada And His Day Of The Dead Calaveras” By Duncan Tonatiuh

“Full Cicada Moon” By Marilyn Hilton

“Mama’s Nightingale: A Story Of Immigration And Separation” By Edwidge Danticat

“Last Stop On Market Street” By Matt De La Peña

“Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans” By Don Brown

“The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore” By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

“Real Giraffes Wear High-Heel Shoes” By Maria Ashworth

“She Did It!: 21 Women Who Changed The Way We Think” By Emily Arnold McCully

“Malcom Little: The Boy Who Grew Up To Become Malcolm X” By Ilyasah Shabazz; Illustrated By Ag Ford

“The Undefeated” By Kwame Alexander And Kadir Nelson

“Unstoppable: How Jim Thorpe And The Carlisle Indian School Football Team Defeated Army” By Art Coulson, Illustrated By Nick Hardcastle

“Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’S Fight For Desegregation” By Duncan Tonatiuh

“Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock” By Aslan And Kelly Tudor

“The Day You Begin” By Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated By Rafael López

“Dreamers” By Yuyi Morales

“Viola Desmond Won’T Be Budged!” By Jody Nyasha Warner And Richard Rudnicki

“My Hair Is A Garden” By Cozbi A. Cabrera

“The Legendary Miss Lena Horne” By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated By Elizabeth Zunon

“I Am Not A Number” By Jenny Kay Dupuis And Kathy Kacer, Illustrated By Gillian Newland

“Something Happened In Our Town” By Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, And Ann Hazzard, Illustrated By Jennifer Zivoin

“Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story Of Florence Mills” By Renée Watson; Illustrated By Christian Robinson

“Voice Of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit Of The Civil Rights Movement” By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated By Ekua Holmes

“We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga” By Traci Sorell, Illustrated By Frané Lessac

“Preaching To The Chickens: The Story Of Young John Lewis” By Jabari Asim, Illustrated By E.B. Lewis

“When We Were Alone” By David A. Robertson, Illustrated By Julie Flett

“Gordon Parks: How The Photographer Captured Black And White America” By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated By Jamey Christoph

“Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History” By Vashti Harrison

“Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story” By Paula Yoo, Illustrated By Lin Wang

“Coretta Scott” By Ntozake Shange, Illustrated By Kadir Nelson

“The Whispering Town” By Jennifer Elvgren, Illustrated By Fabio Santomauro

“Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom” By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated By Kadir Nelson

“When I Was Eight” By Christy Jordan-Fenton And Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Illustrated By Gabrielle Grimard

“Rosa” By Nikki Giovanni, Illustrated By Bryan Collier

“Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History” By Walter Dean Myers, Illustrated By Floyd Cooper

“Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride” By Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated By Brian Pinkney

“Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down” By Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated By Brian Pinkney

“That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle For Justice” By Carmen Tafolla And Sharyll Tenayuca, Illustrated By Terry Ybáñez

“Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library” By Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated By Eric Velasquez

“The Boy And The Wall” By Palestinian Refugee Children In The Aida Refugee Camp

Classroom Resources

Conversation Center Exit Slip

Summer Reading Log

Formative Feedback: Student To Student

Formative Feedback For Students

Close Reading Account For Students

110 Minutes Of Literacy

Exit Slips: Read-Aloud, Centers, Guided Reading, And Independent Reading And Writing

4-In-1 Literacy Block

Debate Centers

The New Word Walls To Language Walls

Recommended Journal Articles and Books

Getting to Know Our Students: The Heart of Differentiation in the Balanced Literacy Classroom

Moving Toward A Justice-Driven Curriculum In The Balanced Literacy Classroom

Discourse: The Importance Of Talk In The Balanced Literacy Classroom

Comprehensive Literacy Basics: An Anthology By Capstone Professional

The New Balanced Literacy School: Implementing The Common Core

Formative Assessment In The New Balanced Literacy Classroom

Resources for Parents

Living Literacy At Home: A Parent’s Guide

Creating Parent Libraries: Enhancing Family Literacy Through Access To Books


“Little Libraries, Big Heroes” 
 By Miranda Paul, Illustrated By John Parra

Todd and his friends love heroes. But in school, Todd doesn’t feel heroic. Reading is hard for him, and he gets scolded for asking too many questions. How will he ever become the kind of hero he admires? Featuring stunning illustrations that celebrate the diversity of the Little Free Library movement, here is the story of how its founder, Todd Bol, became a literacy superhero. Thanks to Todd and thousands of volunteers—many of whom are kids—millions of books have been enjoyed around the world. This creative movement inspires a love of reading, strengthens communities, and provides meeting places where new friendships, ideas—and heroes!— spring to life.

Read more

Getting to Know Our Students: The Heart of Differentiation in the Balanced Literacy Classroom

By Margaret Mary Policastro, Diane Mazeski, Noreen Wach (Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois), and Tom Magers (Broadmeadow Elementary School, Rantoul, Illinois)

From the Illinois Reading Council Journal, Fall 2019
Recently, at our Summer Reading Clinic open house, a parent asked if we “ever had success with a student who doesn’t like to read?” As we were thinking of a response, her son, who is just going into 1st grade in the fall, was telling us how much he likes “bones and skulls.” He took out an object from his pocket and showed us a small dinosaur skeleton that he had put together. Collectively, we responded with positive thoughts about how all of these interests would be an important factor for the first day of the clinic and moving forward with him as a reader. On opening day, we had an abundance of books awaiting him about skeletons, bones, dinosaurs, and skulls. We were eager to see how he would respond. Indeed, within minutes of surrounding him with these books, he was totally engaged, curious, and captivated by the informational texts with which he was encircled. The photo in Figure 1 captures the essence of what happens when you match books to students’ interests. In this instance, the student going into 1st grade had access to books that had pictures, diagrams, and illustrations for him to comprehend. One pop-out book dis- played dinosaur skeletons. Since that first day, we noticed how his interest in these topics is both dense and deep—a knowledge base of information far greater than most of his peers.

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Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe

A beautiful picture book about Ann Cole Lowe, a little-known African-American fashion designer who battled personal and social adversity in order to pursue her passion of making beautiful gowns and went on to become one of society’s top designers. Having made dresses for Jackie Kennedy and Olivia de Havilland, Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them. Source:


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Summer Reading Log

These reading logs are a great way to keep students practicing their reading skills throughout the summer!

How to implement in the classroom:

Students need to know that reading does not stop because school is out for the summer. Give these sheets to your students before the end of the year. Tell them they will be posted when they return in the fall. Have a cornucopia of books for them to access over the summer. Make arrangements with your local library to have a stack of the logs available.

My Summer Reading Log for the Classroom

Formative Feedback: Student To Student

William, (2011) defines formative feedback with the following: Feedback functions formatively only if the information fed back to the learner is used by the learner in improving performance. If the information fed back to the learner is intended to be helpful but cannot be used by the learner in improving performance, it is not formative. Feedback must embody a model of progression whereby a series of activities must be designed to move the learner from current state to goal state. We need to ensure that feedback causes a cognitive rather than an emotional reaction. (It is not a compliment or a criticism). The purpose of feedback should be to increase the extent to which students are owners of their own learning.

How to implement in the classroom:

Student to student feedback is important. Teach your students how to comment constructive about their peers work. Teacher must model, demonstrate, and explain student to student feedback and provide examples. Be explicit about what is allowed on the feedback and what is not appropriate. Have students read their feedback and discuss if they agree or not and why. Ask if they would change anything after reading feedback.

Formative Feedback Student to Student Information Sheet

Formative Feedback Student to Student Information Sheet

Formative Feedback For Students

Allows teachers to record observations of students’ literacy skills during class and provide feedback for students and parents.

How to implement in the classroom:

Formative assessment and feedback needs to be ongoing and continuous if you are measuring the developmental level of a student with fidelity. These pads can be used to include anecdotal information, quick assessment checks, observations, concerns, etc. You may want to send one home to a

parent (make and keep a copy for your files) acknowledging a student’s fine contribution or perhaps a friendly note to have them work on a particular skill with their child.

Formative Feedback Pads 4×6



Close Reading Account For Students

These forms guide students in documenting and becoming more aware of their close reading skills.  Forms are available in three levels: Primary (Dark Blue), Intermediate (Green) & Upper Grades (Light Blue). In response to the need to shift instructional strategies to highlight close reading, we have developed a close reading kit which includes the three levels of reading forms. This kit grew out of concern about how to document students’ close reading and is meant to be an active tool that students use during guided reading, independent reading and writing, and in the language and literacy centers.

My Close Reading Account Intermediate Level

My Close Reading Account Middle Level

My Close Reading Account Primary Level

110 Minutes Of Literacy

Used by the teacher to plan their daily Balanced Literacy activities; can be posted outside the classroom for public disclosure.

How to implement in the classroom:

Teachers have commented, “These pads have saved my time management problems”, “I feel secure in knowing I am accomplishing my literacy goals for the day and the week”; “I could have used these years ago.” These pads are to be used to help you plan your literacy block and make your teaching transparent. Fill out one each day and you will immediately notice that your planning has become intentional. Choose and pre-read your Read Aloud , prepare your questions in a scaffolding manner and require students to journal every day. The very young ones can draw and label what their thoughts are. Post these slips where they can be seen by your administrators.

110 Minutes of Literacy for the Classroom

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