Eloise Greenfield wasn’t as famous as Dr. Seuss, but she played a role that was just as important in the world of children’s books. She was one of the first children’s authors to write books in which Black children could see themselves, their lives, their history and their dreams. Ms. Greenfield, who died last week at the age of 92, once said “I wanted my books to enable Black children to realize how beautiful and smart they are.” In a long career, she wrote more than 40 picture books, novels, biographies and poetry collections. She based many of them on her childhood memories of growing up as an African American in Washington, DC, and in one she teamed up with her mother to write “Childtimes,” a three-generation family history. In 2018, the American Library Association honored her with the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and recognized her as a “trailblazer” for African American writers and readers. For a list of Eloise Greenfield books, click here. Eloise Greenfield based many of her stories on things she did as a child. In the newspaper or online, find and study stories and photos of children having fun or doing interesting things. Use what you read or see to brainstorm an idea for a children’s story for kids your age. Write an outline for your story and give it a title. Then write the opening scene.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. A No-No That’s Good
Like many kids, pitcher Tyler Gilbert dreamed of playing Major League Baseball when he was growing up. He never dreamed his first game as a starting pitcher would be as amazing as it was. In his first start for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Gilbert pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres, striking out five batters and giving up three walks in a 7-0 win. Gilbert, who is 27, is just the fourth pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter in his first start, and the first in 68 years. His no-hitter is the eighth in the Major Leagues this season, tying a record set way back in 1884. At all levels of sports, athletes do things that amaze or surprise fans and teammates. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story of an athlete doing something like this. Pretend you are a sportswriter about to interview this athlete. Write out three questions you would like to ask this person about their amazing feat. Then write out answers you think the athlete might give.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
3. A Great Smelling Dog
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell because their noses have up to 300-million specialized smell detectors. That is way more than humans have, giving a dog a sense of smell up to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of people. In the state of Michigan this summer, a police dog’s sense of smell was put to the test when it was asked to find a pair of rings lost on a beach — based only on the scent of the person who last wore them. The rings belonged to Elsa Green who lost them when she swatted at a beetle that had landed on her baseball cap at a beach in the town of Eagle River. The problem was she had put her diamond wedding ring and her matching wedding band inside the hat, and they went flying when she tried to get rid of the beetle. Enter a police dog named Dogo from the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office. Dogo had been trained to find things based on scent by handler Sergeant Brad Pelli. Pelli gave Dogo the scent and in a matter of minutes the dog lay down in the sand, the Washington Post newspaper reported. That was his sign that he had found something, and sure enough the rings were right there, an inch below the surface. “Dogo, you will forever be my hero!” Green wrote on her Facebook page. Police dogs are often trained to find things. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a police dog that has found something valuable, important or unusual. Use what you read to draw a series of comic strips showing the police dog in action.
Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.
4. Magnet Danger
When people buy toys, tools or other products, they want to know that they are safe to use. In the United States, a special government agency has been set up to keep an eye on safety issues, and this summer it took an unusual step to protect children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an order to keep two products from being sold. The products contain tiny magnets that have been accidentally swallowed by children, causing injuries to their stomachs and intestines. The Zen Magnets and Neoballs magnet sets are not made for children and are usually sold as desk toys for adults. The two companies that make the magnet sets had challenged the Safety Commission’s authority to recall them, but this summer the commission felt they were too much of a risk to be sold. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is always on the lookout for products that could be a risk to children or adults. Pretend you work for the Safety Commission and scan ads for toys that you find in the newspaper or online. Pick one toy and write a list of things people should ask about safety before buying the toy for a young child. Share ideas with friends and classmates and discuss.
Common Core State Standards: Conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement.
5. Millionaire Winner
For many people, playing the lottery is like a quest for finding buried treasure. This summer, a man from the state of South Carolina hit the jackpot, not once but TWICE. The lucky man, who has not been identified, was a winner of a $40,000 prize on July 16 and then hit big with a $3-million payday on July 27. In both cases he was playing Mega Millions Quick Pick tickets. The chances of winning even one of the prizes were remote. “The odds of winning $40,000 playing Mega Millions are 1 in 931,001, and the odds of winning $3-million are about 1 in 13 million,” the South Carolina Education Lottery said. Lottery winners often do special things with the money they have won. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about a winner doing something special or unusual with his or her winnings. Use what you read to write a paragraph summarizing what the person did and who benefited. Then write a paragraph telling two things you would do with your winnings if you won a lottery — one for yourself and one for other people.
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.