, week of
Jan. 20, 2020
1. Great, Popular Books
The New York Public Library in New York City is the second largest library in the United States. It has served millions of readers in the 125 years since it opened, and those readers have checked out millions of books. So what have been the most popular? In honor of its 125th birthday, the library has released a list of the books checked out the most in its history. The list reveals the power of young readers: Six of the Top 10 books are children’s books, and a seventh was named an “honorable mention.” The most popular book on the checkout list was “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, a picture book that follows the adventures of an African American boy enjoying his city’s first snowfall. The book, which has been borrowed 485,584 times at the library since it was published in 1962, was a groundbreaking story for the way it introduced diversity into children’s literature. Other children’s favorites on the library’s Top 10 list are “The Cat in the Hat” (No. 2), “Where the Wild Things Are” (No. 4), “Charlotte’s Web” (No. 6), “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (No. 9) and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (No. 10). The Honorable Mention is the bedtime story “Goodnight Moon.” Everyone has favorite books. As a class, discuss favorite books you have read and why you liked them. Pick one you have read and write a letter to a student in a younger grade, telling why you liked the book and why the younger student would like it, too. Finish by using the newspaper and Internet to find books that are popular with students your age. Use what you find to make a list of books to try in the future.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
2. Animated Oscars
The Oscar awards have been given out for more than 90 years to honor achievements in movies. For families and kids, the category that gets the most attention each year is the award for Best Animated Feature Film. This goes to full-length cartoon movies, and this year “Toy Story 4,” “Missing Link” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are up for honors (along with two foreign films from the European nations of France and Spain). Animated movies are also represented in the category for Best Original Song with nominations for “Into the Unknown,” from “Frozen II” and “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from “Toy Story 4.” This year’s Oscar awards show — officially called the Academy Awards — will take place February 9. Animated films use cartoons and art to tell stories in entertaining ways. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about animated movies that are popular with families. Pick one you have seen, or would like to see, and write a paragraph telling why it’s a good choice for families. Or write a paragraph about another animated movie you have seen and liked.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.
3. Hotdog Appeal
If you ask kids what they’d like to be when they grow up, it’s unlikely many would answer “a hotdog.” But the Oscar Mayer hotdog company is looking for someone who’d like to do just that. The company has put out a call for someone to run its famous Weinermobile and take it around the country promoting Oscar Mayer hotdogs and wieners. The Wienermobile is a vehicle specially made to look like a giant hotdog. It is 27 feet long and 11 feet high and has been a symbol of the company for more than 80 years. People who run the Wienermobile are called “hotdoggers” and have to be familiar with the company’s famous song, which begins “Oh, I want to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is truly what I’d like to be.” Running Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobile is an unusual job. In the newspaper or online, find stories, photos or ads involving other unusual jobs. Pick one and write a letter to the person offering the job telling why you would find it interesting, challenging or fun. Share letters with the class and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. ‘I Do’ — and How!
It’s often said that when people get married, they’ll never forget their wedding day. That will certainly be true for a couple who got married this month in the Southeast Asian nation of the Philippines. As they exchanged vows, the Taal Volcano erupted violently behind them. Located just 10 miles away, the volcano sent a giant cloud of smoke and ash into the air. That didn’t stop Chino and Kat Vaflor, who calmly said “I do” while photographers captured a scene that looked like a sci fi movie. The volcano eruption sent ash plumes 6 to 9 miles into the air and forced the evacuation of Taal Volcano island and several nearby towns. Experts closely monitored the activity at the volcano for fear there could be a more severe eruption. Extreme natural events like the eruption of a volcano are often in the news. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about one such event. Use what you read to write a short editorial telling people how to stay safe when experiencing the event.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Huge Travel Holiday
In the Asian nation of China, the Chunyun holiday is the biggest holiday of the year. It celebrates the Lunar New Year Spring Festival, and it inspires people all over the nation to travel back to their home towns or to visit family. That’s a lot of travel in a nation of 1.4-billion people, and this year there will be a record 3-billion individual trips, according to estimates by Chinese officials. Of those, 2.43-billion trips will be made by automobile, 440-million by train, 79-million by air and 45-million by sea, CNN News reports. The Chunyun holiday, which lasts 40 days, began this year on January 10 and will end February 18. Its dates surround the Lunar, or Chinese, New Year, which this year falls on January 25. The dates for Chunyun and Chinese New Year vary from year to year, due to changes in the Lunar Calendar used in China and other Asian nations. Chunyun is a holiday millions of people look forward to in China. What holidays do you look forward to? In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a holiday that is coming up. Use what you read to write a letter to a friend telling what you would like to do to celebrate the holiday — and why.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level