Book of the Week: A is for America

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

A is for America, by Devin Scillian

I love pretty much anything published by Sleeping Bear Press, and the bazillions of alphabet books they’ve printed are, by and large, pretty wonderful. We have a mentor text copy of A is for America ready to go in the bookroom.

You can access an extensive activity guide for almost every Sleeping Bear Press book here.

The author of this book is also the nightly news anchor for Channel 4 in my beloved Detroit, and it’s pretty awesome to see a “celebrity” author who can write pretty darn well.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:

  • Back up and reread. This is a pretty dense text. I actually intended to post this lesson two weeks ago, but since then, *I* as a teacher have had to back up and reread the book several times. In the past, I’ve used Sleeping Bear Press alphabet books over several days, reading two letters (and reviewing each of the previous letters using call-and-response). Often, we talk about backing up and rereading if the text is CONFUSING, so it could be important to talk about backing up and rereading if the text is just plain DENSE.

  • Use dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries as tools. In my time away from teaching social studies, I forgot about the fabulous tool hidden in the back of our textbooks known as the Gazeteer. A “geographical dictionary,” isn’t that brilliant? I know I often tell students to not worry if they can’t pronounce a proper noun in text, but wouldn’t it be great to give each student a letter from the book and have them investigate each of the locations featured in their letter?

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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