Monday, July 28, 2014

Fiction Reading that will lead to treasures!

This past week's reads!

As promised, here is my second week of treasures and gems! With the summer rapidly advancing, I knew I needed to bump it up a notch in my chapter book reading so that I will be able to advise my upcoming 3rd -5th graders with authentic booktalks.  The books depicted in the photograph above were my reading selections over the past 4-5 days.  My husband rarely saw my face this past week, since I had a book cover in front of it most of the time.

I must admit, my favorite from the bunch was KING OF THE MOUND.  I actually stayed up way too late last night (past 1AM) just so I could finish this delightful book by Wes Tooke.  This is one of those books, you simply can't put down.  And when you do, you can't wait to dig into some nonfiction reading to learn more about Satchel Paige, Neil Churchill, barnstorming, segregation, semi-professional baseball in the 1930's, polio, and more.


Where to begin... As I was absorbed in reading King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige written by Wes Tooke, I could not help but think how easily this historical fiction book captivates and effortlessly prompts the reader into research.  As parents and educators, isn't that exactly what we want to happen for our children/students?  We want children to develop and pursue inquiry questions just because something sparked a seed of wonder. 

When a book hooks me, my first tendency is to research a bit about the author.  I want to know more about the personal side of an author because in a way, reading is such an intimate activity.  It's just you and the magic of the words composed by an individual you will probably never meet.  When you get pulled into the story, you somehow have this unique connection to the writer.  So, let me begin with Wes Took.  According to his website, Wes was born in New York but raised in Boston, and was an avid Red Sox fan.  However, his birthplace certainly drew him back in, since his first book, Lucky, is about a bat boy for the Yankees during the summer of 1961, one of the most memorable seasons in sports history. His second book for middle graders is King of the Mound.

Having three brothers, I cannot even begin to compute how many hours I spent in the bleachers (or during one lucky season, in the dugout since my father was the coach) watching baseball games.  Since I grew up in Massachusetts, we were raised Red Sox fans.  However, years later I would marry a man who was an avid Yankees fan, and he steered both of our children to the Yankees side. Oh well.

Regardless, whether you are a baseball fan or not, this book will impact you. While written for middle grade students (4th-6th), readers of all ages will enjoy this book.  King of the Mound has something for everyone.   Wes Tooke tells a good tale, weaving history and fact into a fictional story of a boy who takes first steps on the road to physical and emotional recovery from a bout with polio, thanks to help from a solid new friend and a baseball hero.  A nice touch to the layout of the text is that the 18 chapters all have baseball innings as titles --- the first chapter is titled “Top of the First” and the last “Bottom of the Ninth.”

So, there you have it... my gem of a book for the week.

Now, to treasures in technology tools.  Since, King of Mound provokes the reader to research details from the text, you must explore WONDEROPLIS.  Winner of countless awards, Wonderoplis is a place where "natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages."  After reading about the power of Satchel Paige's fastball, I searched Wonderopolis for "fastball" and of course, there is a "wonder" for me to explore and discover.

My next treasure trove is the Library of Congress.  I had the incredible opportunity to spend one week this summer in DC at the Library of Congress.  There were 28 educators from all over the USA in my session, and we learned how to search for and analyze rich primary source documents.  After reading King of the Mound, I wanted to explore more about Satchel Paige and was curious to see what types of primary source documents were available.  By going to the Library of Congress website and searching for documents on "Satchel Paige," I found not only photographs, but also a Congressional resolution commending Paige on his contributions to baseball.

Another great site is EXPLORATORIUM.  Searching for "baseball' led me to additional resources and activities such as "How to throw a curveball" and "Finding the sweet spot."   How easy this book makes it to connect PE to language arts!


Next, I explored DISCOVERY EDUCATION (which our students have access to) and I located ample resources on polio and Satchel Paige which will further expand my understanding of King of the Mound.


Locating resources and information is one thing.  Sharing new learning is the next step we want to challenge our students to undertake.  Using technology tools makes sharing new learning fun!  Using the information I located on the various sites,  I could use an iPad and take a free app like Educreations and provide a historical glimpse into the life of Satchel Paige.  If I am more of a science buff, I might want to create a narrated slideshow on the history of polio by also using Educreations.  Perhaps I want to share how my baseball skills have improved by experimenting with the activities from Exploratorium.  I could document my experiences by taking photos with the iPad and use Educreations to share my experiences.

To share out these creations, students with support from teachers or parents can tweet, email, post the URL created through the Educreations app.  Or students can easily create a qr code and attach the code to the inside cover of King of the Mound.  Then, each student who checks out this book from our school library, would now have access to additional background information with a quick scan of the qr code.  Students teaching other students!

That's how you get students engaged in reading, writing, researching, creating, and sharing!  Let's provide students with engaging books like King of the Mound and encourage them to question, explore, discover, create, and share.

King of the Mound is a nominee for the 2015 Intermediate Nutmeg Award. 

Happy exploring,
Mrs. M.

a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. - See more at:
a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. - See more at:
a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. - See more at:
a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery in learners of all ages. - See more at:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jane-
    So wonderful to explore your blog and see what you are recommending! I haven't read King of the Mound yet- but it is the next book on my list. I just finished Spy School. :)

    It was great to meet you at the picnic on Thursday. We didn't discuss siblings the other day- but I have three brothers too!

    Loved this great post! Thanks for sharing!
    I don't have a library blog, yet- but I do have a book blog if you want to swing by: