Betsy's Bookshelf

Literacy Block

Run, Turkey, Run!

Run, Turkey, Run! - Diane Mayr

Written by Diane Mayr

Illustrated by Laura Rader


Turkey is scared of Thanksgiving, a day that is coming up quickly. When the farmer comes for him, Turkey runs across the farm and tries to fool the farmer by pretending to be various farm animals. The farmer isn't fooled by Turkey pretending to be a pig, a duck, or a horse, so Turkey runs for the forest. The farmer can't find Turkey pretending to be a tree! Turkey is safe from the farmer, until the farmer goes to cut down his Christmas tree... Run, Turkey, Run!


I would use this book to teach a first grade lesson on verbs. You could have students make a craft with turkey legs and "(verb), Turkey, (verb)!"

Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie

Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie - Herman Parish, Lynne Avril

Written by Herman Parish

Illustrated by Lynne Avril


Amelia Bedelia is visiting her grandparents. Her grandma asked if Amelia Bedelia and her grandpa would go buy apples, because she had made a pie dough. Amelia Bedelia and her grandpa go to the farmer's market to get Granny Smith apples. When they return, Amelia Bedelia helps her grandma make the pie. She also makes a mini pie with the leftover dough. When the pie is done, her grandma sets it outside to cool and birds eat the whole thing. Amelia Bedelia's parents come over and everyone laments about the ruined pie, until Amelia Bedelia remembers her tiny pie in the oven. Everyone is thankful for the tiny pie.


i would use this with kindergarten through second grade. It could be used for how-to/sequencing, feeling thankful (Thanksgiving), or apples in general.

Duck for President

Duck for President - Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin

Written by Doreen Cronin

Illustrated by Betsy Lewin


Farmer Brown has many responsibilities on the farm. He ends each day covered from head to toe with mud and muck. He gives the animals chores to do too, like dusting and mowing the lawn. Duck is fed up with how Farmer Brown runs the farm, so Duck decides to hold an election for a new farmer. Duck beats Farmer Brown soundly and becomes the new farmer. However, the job is harder than it looks, so Duck leaves Farmer Brown in charge and begins his campaign for governor. He beats the sitting governor by a handful of votes. After a while he discovers that being governor is hard work, so he leaves someone else in charge and begins his campaign for the presidency. Yet again, Duck wins the election. After a while he discovers that being the president is hard work, so he checks the help-wanted ads. Farmer Brown was looking for a duck! Duck leaves the Vice President in charge and heads back to the farm to write his autobiography. 


I would use this book from first grade to third grade to talk about elections. It gives a nice, simplified version of running a campaign and how important voting is to elect your candidate. You could pair this book with a writing activity, such as: "I would vote for _____ (Duck or Farmer Brown) because _____."

Big Red Lollipop

Big Red Lollipop - Rukhsana Khan, Sophie Blackall

Written by Rukhsana Khan

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall


Rubina has just been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother insists that she bring her little sister, Sana, along. No matter how hard Rubina tries to convince her mother that people just don't bring their little sisters along to birthday parties, her mother doesn't listen. Sana and Rubina go to the birthday party, and Sana acts selfishly and embarrasses Rubina. Sana even steals Rubina's prize from the party, a big, red lollipop. Rubina is fed up. She doesn't get any more invitations to birthday parties for a long time after that, either. Then one day, Sana gets an invitation to a birthday party. Her mother insists that she take her sisters with her, and refuses to listen when Sana tells her that you can't just bring your sisters to a birthday party. Rubina steps in and tells her mother not to make Sana take their little sister to the party, and their mother finally agrees. When Sana gets home from the party, she brings Rubina a big, green lollipop to say thank you.


This book would be great to open up a discussion about diversity and cultural differences with second to fourth grade students. It could also be used with younger students to discuss character traits and the importance of sharing.

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? - Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle

Written by Bill Martin Jr.

Illustrated by Eric Carle


Eric Carle's unique illustrations present ten endangered species along with a rhythmic rhyming text, rich with action words.


I would use this text with second through fourth graders to introduce endangered species, different animals in different environments, or a unit on nature. Students could do independent research on the animals presented in the book. It could also be used for identifying action words and colors.

Mr. Wuffles!

Mr. Wuffles! - David Wiesner

Written and illustrated by David Wiesner


Mr. Wuffles is an unimpressed black and white cat who is very selective about his toys. One day, a tiny spaceship lands in a pile of his rejected toys and Mr. Wuffles takes an immediate interest in it, batting the spaceship around and shaking up the poor aliens inside. The aliens manage to get away, but their spaceship is in desperate need of repair. The aliens meet the bugs who live under the radiator and though they speak different languages, the aliens and bugs form an alliance and plan an escape for the aliens. The bugs provide the materials necessary for the spaceship's repair, and together, the aliens and bugs successfully get past the sneaky Mr. Wuffles with the repair materials. The aliens quickly fix their spaceship and fly away through an open window, much to the disappointment of Mr. Wuffles.


This book is in the form of a comic, with few words but many panels of illustrations. Fourth and fifth grade students could write a story to go with the illustrations, or they could create their own fictional comic involving a pet or themselves. Teachers could also lead discussions about collaboration and diversity in regards to the aliens and bugs.

Cookie's Week

Cookie's Week - Cindy Ward, Tomie dePaola

Written by Cindy Ward

Illustrated by Tomie dePaola


Cookie is a mischievous black and white kitten who gets into trouble every day of the week, knocking over trash cans and getting shut in drawers. What will Cookie do on Sunday?


This book would be great for discussing days of the week with kindergarten or as a simple introduction to exclamation marks in first grade. Cookie is a lovable kitten and the colorful illustrations will keep readers engaged.

If You Give a Dog a Donut

If You Give a Dog a Donut - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond

Written by Laura Numeroff

Illustrated by Felicia Bond

Max the Brave

Max the Brave - Ed Vere

Written and illustrated by Ed Vere

Red: A Crayon's Story

Red: A Crayon's Story - Michael Hall, Michael Hall

Written and illustrated by Michael Hall


Red is a crayon with a bright red label, but no matter how hard he tries to be, he just can't be red. His teacher tries to help him be red by suggesting that he color strawberries, but it doesn't work. His mother sets him up on a playdate with Yellow and tells them to draw a nice orange together, but that doesn't work either. The scissors try to help by snipping off his red label so that he has more room to breathe, but Red is still miserable. He can't be red no matter what he does! A new friend offers a new perspective, and Red figures out what readers could see from the start - he's blue!


This book would be great for the lower elementary grades for a discussion on being true to your inner self. Being comfortable with who you are is majorly important for your overall level of happiness. This book would also work to talk about diversity, since everyone is different and may even be different on the inside from what everyone sees on the outside.

Little Tree

Little Tree - Loren Long, Loren Long

Written and illustrated by Loren Long


Little Tree lives in the middle of a little forest and loves his little leaves that keep him cool in the warm summer days. When autumn arrives, a cool wind comes with it that rustles Little Tree's leaves. The other trees in the forest drop their leaves one by one and face the winter head on, but Little Tree clings to his leaves. Little Tree remains unchanged for years, despite the encouragement from various creatures of the forest and the fact that his leaves are brown and withered. One day, he notices how the other trees now tower over him, and he remembers when they were all the same size. Little Tree realizes that he has an important decision to make: in order to grow, he has to let go.


This book is fantastic for all ages. With a more shallow interpretation, it could be used to talk about changing seasons and nature with much younger children. With a deeper reading, it's perfect for a discussion about growing up and making hard choices.

Bud, Not Buddy

Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

Written by Christopher Paul Curtis


Bud, Not Buddy is a story about a young orphaned African American boy in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression. His mother is dead and he doesn't know where his father is, until a seed gets planted into his mind that his father must be the man on the flyers that his mother saved. Bud runs away from his orphanage after spending one night with a particularly nasty foster family, and heads for Grand Rapids, Michigan in search of his father. When he arrives, the man, Herman E. Calloway, is much older than Bud anticipated, but the band that Calloway leads takes Bud in anyway until they can figure out why he thinks Calloway is his father. In the end, everyone figures out that Calloway is Bud's grandfather, his mother's father.


This book would be appropriate for fourth or fifth graders. There are several topics throughout the book that could lead discussions many directions, such as diversity, history, family structures, and important possessions, to name a few. 

Clifford's Halloween

Clifford's Halloween - Norman Bridwell

Written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell


Emily Elizabeth and Clifford love Halloween, but they can't decide what Clifford's costume should be this year. Last year, he dressed up as a ghost and she was a pirate. They went to a party and played many games before going out trick-or-treating. This year, Emily Elizabeth is going to be a fairy princess, but Clifford still hasn't decided. The book ends by asking what the reader thinks Clifford should be.


This book would be fun for a Halloween writing activity in first or second grade. Students could brainstorm ideas, draw a costume on Clifford, and write a sentence about it: "For Halloween, I think Clifford should be a..."

The Hallo-Wiener

The Hallo-wiener - Dav Pilkey

Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey


Oscar the dachshund is constantly teased by his peers for the way he looks. On Halloween, Oscar dreams of having a scary costume to fit in with the other dogs. However, when he gets home from school, his sweet mother has a surprise for him: an embarrassing hot dog bun costume! Not wanting to hurt her feelings, Oscar thanks his mother and wears the costume out trick-or-treating. The other dogs howl with laughter as Oscar struggles to keep up with them, but his bun slows him down. The other dogs race ahead and get all of the candy before Oscar. Suddenly, a terrifying monster comes out of nowhere and scares all of the dogs into a pond. Oscar runs to the rescue, and reveals that the scary monster is nothing more than a couple of cats in a costume. The dogs are grateful for Oscar's help, and they give him all of their candy and promise never to make fun of him again.


This book is absolutely one of my favorites. It could be used in first or second grade for a variety of lessons, including self-image (how does Oscar view himself?), emotions (how does Oscar feel when the other dogs make fun of him?), bullying (how the other dogs treat Oscar), and character traits (how the other dogs treat Oscar and how he responds), to name just a few. The Hallo-Wiener is a great Halloween read-aloud!

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up - Al Yankovic, Wes Hargis

Written by Al Yankovic

Illustrated by Wes Hargis


Billy, a student in Mrs.Krupp's class, is very excited to share what he wants to be when he grows up during the class's show and tell time. He begins by claiming to want to be the world's best chef, and stops Mrs. Krupp when she wrongly thinks he is finished sharing. Billy has many ideas about what he wants to be when he grows up, from a snail trainer to a gorilla masseuse, or maybe a movie director or a dinosaur-dusting museum curator. Mrs. Krupp, fed up with Billy's wild ideas, tells Billy that he needs to pick one thing. Billy responds that his 103-year-old grandfather has held so many different jobs, and he's still not sure what he wants to be when he grows up! At the end of the story, Billy leaves Mrs. Krupp a note saying that he may even be a great teacher like her someday.


This book would be fantastic for a creative writing prompt about what students would like to do when they grow up, and for a discussion about what occupations the people in their family have held. Some of the vocabulary in this book is quite advanced, so a discussion about word meanings would be necessary. I would use this book with upper elementary, fourth and fifth grades.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes - Eric Litwin, James Dean

Written by Eric Litwin

Illustrated by James Dean


Pete the Cat loves his brand new white shoes. As he goes out walking, however, he manages to step in several different piles or puddles that turn his white shoes different colors! Pete keeps his cool, though, and keeps singing his song no matter what color his shoes are.


This book would be great for a lesson on colors with kindergarten. Each time a new color is introduced, the illustrations show examples of things that could be that color (umbrella for blue, coffee for brown) and could easily spark a discussion about what else could be that color. This book could also be used to talk about appropriate emotional reactions to different situations.