Natural & Social Science Grade 3 Classroom Library

Reflection and Library Vision

One of the foremost professional tasks, on the part of a teacher, is to compile a methodologically adequate list of literature-references, which can be organically incorporated into the learning process (Tompkins, 2005). Because this process never ceases to be affected by what happened to be the currently predominant cultural/ideological discourse, it represents the matter of crucial importance for educators to be able to anticipate the potential effects, which will be brought about as a result of the students’ intended exposure to the chosen books. In its turn, this implies what can be considered the main principle of compiling the classroom’s library, on the part of teachers – ensuring that, despite their cognitive uniqueness (reflected by the varying levels of their linguistic proficiency); all of the classroom’s students will be given a chance to emotionally relate to what they learn.

The above suggestion served me as a main guiding light while I was in the process of selecting thematically relevant reference-materials for the library-list. This is why, despite being specialized in dealing with Grade 3 readers, I made a deliberate point in making sure that the recommended books, in each of the mentioned below thematic categories, feature the varying levels of textual/cognitive complexity. In their turn, these categories’ thematic subtleties reflect my belief that, in order for a particular student to be able to take an immediately felt practical advantage of the newly attained knowledge, he or she should be provided with the opportunity to rationalize how the latter affects/constructs the socio-cultural reality around us. Hence, the discursive significance of my category-related choice – the books, discussed within the discursive framework of each of the selected categories (Diversity, Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ Controversy, Author study ‘Robert Munsch,’ Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’ and Award winners), are expected to encourage students to seek the expansion of their intellectual horizons, as simultaneously both: an entertaining and yet cognitively beneficial activity. The following are the brief descriptions of each of the forty selected children’s books.

Oh Say Can You Seed?: All About Flowering Plants

Authors: Bonnie Worth and Aristides Ruiz.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 1).

Summary: In this illustrated book, the character of Cat in the Hat goes about examining different plants, explaining what causes them to grow, and enlightening readers on how plants are able to propagate themselves. The characters also mention the fact that while in the process of going through their life cycles, plants continue to evolve.

Critique: As for the elementary-level readers, Worth and Ruiz’s book contains too many quasi-scientific terms. This hardly adds to the book’s overall educational value. However, there can be only a few doubts that Oh Say Can You Seed?: All About Flowering Plants will indeed come in handy within the context of teachers introducing young readers to the basics of the Theory of Evolution.

Additional information: This book can be used as the mean of prompting students to eventually adopt a scientifically sound outlook on the significance of the surrounding reality’s emanations.

How a Seed Grows

Author: Helene Jordan.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 2).

Summary: This illustrated book takes readers on the journey of discovering what accounts for the consequential phases of just about any plant’s growth. It also provides readers with preliminary insight into what causes plants to appear as having been ‘designed.’

Critique: There are no apparent drawbacks to this book. The contained illustrations are aesthetically attractive and colorful, and the featured text is simple enough to be understood by elementary-level readers. The reading of this book, on the part of young students, should help them to grow emotionally comfortable with the manner in which contemporary biologists expound on what should be considered the actual origins of life.

Additional information: This book will come as a great educational asset for students that long to find out more about the planet’s fauna.

The Vegetables We Eat

Author: Gail Gibons.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 3).

Summary: In this illustrated book, the author explains to readers what vegetables are, why they come in different shapes and sizes and why people should try to eat them as much as possible. The author also promotes the idea that, by opting-out in favor of including more vegetables in their diets, people will increase the extent of their overall environmental awareness.

Critique: There can be only a few doubts as to this book’s great educational value, as well as to its ability to contribute to enhancing the targeted readers’ linguistic/communication skills. Nevertheless, The Vegetables We Eat could use containing less scientifically-advanced terms, such as hydroponics, for example. At the same time, however, it appears that the book in question should prove an asset when endowing students with the spirit of environmental friendliness is being concerned.

Additional information: I would recommend this book to be used in classes where students are being introduced to the term nutrition for the first time.

Hungry Plants

Author: Mary Batten.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 3).

Summary: This book introduces young readers to the so-called ‘carnivorous’ plants (the ones that consume insects, as the actual source of nutrition), explains why these plants feed in such a strange manner and guides children as to how carnivorous plants can be recognized. The author also talks about how these plants evolved in the first place.

Critique: The book is filled with plenty of factual information regarding the subject matter in question. It also features an easy-to-understand language, which should make the reading of this particular book by children rather enjoyable. References to this book should prove beneficial within the context of teachers preparing children cognitively to acquire the knowledge of what the ‘survival of the fittest’ concept stands for.

Additional information: Hungry Plants can be used in the classroom, as such that provides students with emotionally appealing incentives to strive to acquire new knowledge about the natural environment.

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life

Authors: Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 3).

Summary: In their book, Bang and Chisholm explain to children where plants get their nutrition and promote the idea that on this planet, the well-being of all forms of organic life, including people and animals, heavily depends on plants’ ability to enjoy plenty of sunshine. The main idea that is being promoted throughout the book’s entirety is that, even though the phenomenon of organic life may indeed appear ‘miraculous,’ it nevertheless remains the legitimate subject of a scientific inquiry.

Critique: The book’s apparent strength is that the featured text is fully adjusted to the cognitive inclinations of the elementary-level readers. Thus, there can be no doubt as to the book’s ability to broaden the concerned children’s intellectual horizons. This makes the discussed book a valuable educational asset.

Additional information: Students can be referred to this book as the mean of enlightening them on the sheer complexity of the planet’s organic life.

How Do Apples Grow?

Author: Betsy Maestro.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 3).

Summary: In her illustrated book, Maestro provides readers with the opportunity to gain an insight into what accounts for the life cycle of such a commonplace fruit like an apple – from the time its seed is being planted in the soil until the time when the actual apple is ready to be picked. The contained illustrations provide aesthetically appealing visuals to what is being discussed in the book.

Critique: Even though there can be no criticisms in regards to the featured text’s overall quality, the author could improve the integrity of its thematic structuring. Other than this, How Do Apples Grow? can be best described as a thoroughly legitimate reference-material, the exposure to which, on the part of children, should make them much more knowledgeable about the phenomenon of organic life, in general, and about apples, in particular.

Additional information: This book should be recommended for reading in classes, which introduce students to the notion of agriculture for the first time.

What Do Roots Do?

Author: Kathleen Kudlinski.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 3).

Summary: This book explains to young readers what accounts for the functional purpose of roots while exemplifying the presented information with thematically relevant colorful photos. The foremost idea advocated throughout the book is that it is specifically the structural integrity of plants, which allowed them to win their place under the Sun in the evolutionary sense of this word.

Critique: What Do Roots Do? is both: informative and entertaining. In its turn, this makes the mentioned book perfectly suitable to be used in classrooms, as such that should enhance students’ reading skills and increase the extent of their awareness about the surrounding natural environment.

Additional information: This book should prove particularly handy within the context of teachers providing students with botany-related information.

Growing Patterns

Author: Sarah Campbell.

Category: Ontario curriculum ‘Plants’, (Grade 4).

Summary: In her book, Campbell discusses at length the mystery of the so-called ‘Fibonacci numbers’ – the mathematical pattern manifested by the different forms of organic life. In particular, the author explains how this pattern can be recognized within the context of how plants grow and propagate themselves. The author also promotes the idea that the sheer complexity of plants can be well explained as a result of the evolutionary laws’ practical application.

Critique: Despite the fact that the book’s subject matter appears rather complex, Campbell did manage to ‘simplify’ it to the extent of being understood even by the elementary level readers. She also succeeded in ‘mystifying’ the discussed subject matter so that it would emanate a strong emotional appeal to young readers, as such that tend to think holistically. This adds rather substantially to the book’s educational value.

Additional information: This book can be recommended for reading in math classes and in classes where students learn the basics of biology.

The Color of Us

Author: Karen Katz.

Category: Diversity (Grade 1).

Summary: This illustrated children’s book features stories that are expected to prompt young readers to grow comfortable with the notion of multicultural diversity. These stories emphasize the fact that one’s ethnocultural uniqueness well deserves to be celebrated.

Critique: Even though that some themes and motifs explored in this book appear rather controversial, due to the utilized language’s simplicity, it is nevertheless well-suited to serve as an educational supplement for those young children that begin to acquire basic reading skills. The author also deserves to be given credit for having refrained from sounding politically engaged, which is a common shortfall among writers that promote the concept of ethnodiversity.

Additional information: The Color of Us can be well introduced to young learners as the mean of encouraging them to develop an emotional attachment to the observable implications of the concept of multiculturalism.

Boundless Grace

Author: Mary Hoffman.

Category: Diversity (Grade 2).

Summary: In this book, the character of Grace (a 10-year old Black girl) goes about exploring her ethnic roots while faced with different life-challenges within the society.

In its turn, this makes her appreciate more its own ethnocultural background and go as far as enlightening others on what the notion of multiculturalism stands for.

Critique: One of the book’s apparent strengths is that it emanates the spirit of cheerfulness, which in turn will make it easier for students to relate to the explored themes emotionally. The fact that the book in question is supplemented with a number of colorful illustrations contributes to the beneficiary effects of students’ exposure to it.

Additional information: Teachers can use this book as such that it provides students with a better understanding as to what the notion of ‘celebration of diversity’ is all about and encourages them to take an active stance when it comes to defending their right to be ethnically unique.

Meet Danitra Brown

Author: Nikki Grimes.

Category: Diversity (Grade 3).

Summary: This illustrated book contains a number of poems, which promote the idea that one’s ethnic visibility is nothing to be ashamed of – quite on the contrary. Each of the featured poems does encourage readers to adopt an intellectually progressive outlook on the issue in question and explains why it is important for people to be willing to apply an extra effort when it comes to helping others to learn how to take pride in what happened to be the color of their skin.

Critique: Despite the fact that there are elements of discursive biasness in this book, teachers can still use it as the mean of encouraging students to adopt a progressive outlook in the actual significance of the term diversity. Because Meet Danitra Brown features a rhymed text, it can well serve as an additional instrument of contributing to the mastery of the English language on the part of students that already possess more or less developed linguistic skills.

Additional information: This book should prove a valuable asset in classes on diversity.

We All Look Different

Author: Melissa Higgins.

Category: Diversity (Grade 3).

Summary: In this particular book, the author explores (while using a rather simplified vocabulary) the idea that, even though people’s racial differences do need to be celebrated, they nevertheless do not define the concerned individuals’ behavior. According to the author, even though people indeed look different, they nevertheless are humanity’s integral parts.

Critique: In the book, there are a number of claims that can be best described as mutually contradictory. Nevertheless, due to the overall clarity of the featured text and the fact that this book contains many thematically relevant photos, it can be well recommended for Grade 3 readers.

Additional information: In particular, We All Look Different can be utilized within the context of teachers prompting students to reflect upon their personal understanding of the notion of diversity.

Colors Come from God… Just Like Me!

Author: Carolyn Forche.

Category: Diversity (Grade 3).

Summary: In this book, a young African-American girl contemplates the possibility for the colorful aspects of the surrounding reality to be reflective of the ways of God while concluding that colored people are especially liked by the latter. A number of the contained references to the narrator’s different life-experiences support the validity of her conclusion in this respect.

Critique: In her book, Forche did succeed in promoting the message of interracial tolerance/diversity. However, due to the motif of religiosity, prominently exhibited throughout the book, it cannot be considered fully adjusted to the discourse of secularization, which defines the actual realities of post-industrial living in Western countries. The positive aspect about it, however, is that this book subtly encourages readers to think of religions, as such that reflect the affiliated people’s ‘brain wiring’ – a scientifically sound idea.

Additional information: This book may come as an asset in classes, where educators teach children to remain respectful towards other people’s religious feelings.

Two Mrs. Gibsons

Author: Toyomi Igus.

Category: Diversity (Grade 3).

Summary: In this book, Igus expounds on her early memories of growing up in a bi-racial family (Japanese/African-American) while promoting the idea that it was, namely to the specifics of the author’s ethnocultural background, that she was able to appreciate its childhood years to the fullest. The author goes a great length about specifying some Japanese/African cultural traditions, to which she has been exposed during the course of her childhood years.

Critique: There can no doubt, as to the book’s overall progressive sounding. However, children’s exposure to this book may lead them to believe that, for as long as they happened to be ethnically visible, nothing should prevent them from being able to enjoy happiness – hence, distorting their view of what the actual world is all about to an extent. This is only the book’s shortcoming.

Additional information: This book can be used when it comes to helping ethnically visible students to overcome their psychological complexes regarding the particulars of their ethnocultural affiliation.

Look What Came from Spain

Author: Kevin Davis.

Category: Diversity (Grade 3).

Summary: This book provides the mid-elementary level readers with information as to a number of cultural and scientific achievements commonly associated with the country of Spain. The author also explains why it is, namely, in Spain, where these achievements were able to take place.

Critique: While being thoroughly informative and supplemented with colorful photos/pictures, the featured text in the Look What Came from Spain is easy to understand. The book’s other strength is that, as compared to the earlier mentioned ones, it is ideologically neutral. At the same time, however, it can be seen as subtly eurocentric because it clearly implies that there is nothing too incidental about the country’s (Spain) greatness – hence, partially justifying the colonial aspirations on the part of Europeans.

Additional information: This book will come in particularly handy for teachers, who strive to provide students with rationale-based reasons as to why they should respect people’s cultural heritage. Therefore, this book can be recommended for use in classes where students learn how to think logically.

Ella’s Big Chance: A Fairy Tale

Author: Shirley Hughes.

Category: Diversity (Grade 4).

Summary: Hughes’ illustrated book is essentially the retelling of the classic story of Cinderella, set in the background of the 20th century’s twenties. Its plot revolves around the theme of good overcoming evil, despite the initially impossible circumstances.

Critique: Even though that this particular book features an easy-to-understand language, in order for students to be comfortable with the contained themes and motifs, they would need to have prior awareness of the initial Cinderella story’s discursive significance. This book should prove an asset in classes where students are being encouraged to contemplate on what causes some people to act wickedly; whereas, others act in a much more socially-appropriate manner while affected by the same circumstances.

Additional information: This book is best recommended to be read by more or less linguistically advanced children, who understand the meaning of a variety of semi-abstract notions, such as jealousy, for example.

All in a Day By

Author: Mitsumasa Anno.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 1).

Summary: This illustrated book contains colorful images of ethnically diverse children indulging in different but rather conventional pursuits produced by illustrators from across the globe. The associated textual messages help readers to understand better the used images’ discursive significance and consequently – to grow more acceptive towards the race-related particulars of other people’s identities.

Critique: While subtly exploring the theme of acceptance, Anno’s book appears thoroughly adjusted to the workings of the young children’s mentality. This is because the contained images depict pursuits that potential readers are likely to consider particularly enjoyable. Thus, there can be only a few doubts that the students’ exposure to this particular book should prove beneficial in respect of them learning the discursive significance of the term tolerance.

Additional information: This book should prove especially beneficial, within the context of teachers encouraging students to assume that, regardless of what happened to be people’s skin-color, they are absolutely equal.

No One is Perfect

Authors: Karen Erickson and Maureen Roffey.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 2).

Summary: The main idea that is being promoted throughout this illustrated book’s entirety is that even though people do make mistakes every so often, this is not the reason to deny them the chance to be accepted socially. The author explores the validity of this thesis in regards to the fact that the notion of ‘perfection’ is essentially illusionary.

Critique: The book’s apparent strength is its authors succeeded in exemplifying the significance of the explored theme (acceptance) visually. Nevertheless, the manner in how they did it can be best described as being rather formulaic. Evidently enough, No One is Perfect will also prove beneficial within the context of students learning how to remain tolerant towards each other – hence, making it possible for the latter to affiliate themselves with the values of a post-industrial living.

Additional information: This book should prove a valuable educational asset within the context of teachers helping students to properly construct linguistic idioms, concerned with how causes define effects.

Someone Special, Just Like You

Author: Tricia Brown.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 3).

Summary: Brown’s book contains stories about children with different life-impending disabilities. In particular, the author focuses her attention on children affected by such mental conditions as autism and Down syndrome. By being exposed to the book’s stories, readers are expected to grow more comfortable with the idea that physically disabled individuals should be treated with respect.

Critique: Even though that the author did succeed in promoting the message of tolerance in regards to those people that suffer from being disabled, there is a certain drawback to the book in question. This drawback is concerned with the fact that Brown tends to discuss the notion of disability, as such that is being synonymous with the notion of uniqueness – hence, implying that one’s disability deserves to be celebrated. Nevertheless, Someone Special, Just Like You, should still prove handy in classes, where children are being encouraged to adopt a tolerant attitude towards the symptoms of mental inadequateness in others.

Additional information: This book can be recommended for reading by those students that are intellectually mature enough to be exposed to the presence of the semi-abstract terminology in the text.

Black Is Brown Is Tan

Author: Arnold Adoff.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 3).

Summary: This book contains the author’s poem (named the same), in which Adoff elaborates on the challenges of raising a child in a multiracial family. The motif of acceptance is explored throughout the poem’s entirety. Emily McCully supplemented the poem with colorful illustrations, which make it easier for readers to relate to the poem’s motifs and to grow comfortable with the idea that there is nothing wrong with men and women from different racial backgrounds pursuing a marital relationship.

Critique: The rhymed text featured in the poem represents a rather easy reading.

The author can also be credited for ensuring the emotional appeal of the conveyed message of acceptance. As such, this book undoubtedly represents a high educational value.

Additional information: Black is Brown is Tan can be well used by teachers to present students with real-life examples of how they should go about accepting other people’s race-related differences.

The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone with Autism

Author: Ellen Sabin.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 3).

Summary: In her book, Sabin explains to young readers what the mental condition of autism is all about while encouraging them to treat individuals who happened to be autistic with love and respect. The author also elaborates on what may be considered the probable causes of this mental condition.

Critique: Despite the fact that this book does promote the message of acceptance, its author appears rather unaware of the full spectrum of autism’s life-impending symptoms. Clearly enough, the author thinks of autism in terms of a ‘neuro-diversity,’ which is rather questionable. However, the book’s earlier mentioned drawback does not undermine the overall validity of the deployed line of argumentation in regards to how autistic children should be treated by their peers.

Additional information: Students’ exposure to this book should help them to accept the fact that people are different, which in turn should make them more willing to accept the spirit of tolerance.

Special, ‘Specially Me

Authors: Jaime Simpson and Wilena Tuschhoff.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 3).

Summary: This book reveals the challenges that a 7-year old physically incapacitated girl has been faced with while trying to enjoy her life to its fullest. The foremost idea promoted throughout the book is that people should be more open-minded/tolerant towards physically and mentally challenged individuals.

Critique: In their book, the authors did a good job while promoting the message of tolerance. However, there is a certain ideological artificialness to it, as the book implies that one’s physical incapacitation can, in fact, be enjoyable. Nevertheless, the author did succeed in promoting the idea that accepting physically and mentally incapacitated individuals accounts for nothing less of people’s civic duty.

Additional information: Teachers can take practical advantage of this book when striving to encourage students to consider the full scope of hardships that ‘special’ children have to deal with.

Just the Way You Are

Author: Max Lucado.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 3).

Summary: In his illustrated book, Lucado explores the theme of acceptance, in relation to a variety of different situations, involving children, on the one hand, and their parents, on the other. While doing it, the author promotes the harmonic relationship between children and their parents, as such that corresponds well with the will of God.

Critique: The book in question does a splendidly good job while emphasizing the ethical justifications for people to be willing to act in a thoroughly tolerant manner towards each other. The book’s only weakness, in this respect, is the fact that it discusses these justifications, as such that solely derive out of the notion of religion. However, because of having read this book, some students should also be able to begin perceiving the concept of religion in terms of a life-enhancing tool, which many religious parents will certainly welcome.

Additional information: Students will benefit from reading the particular book within the context of growing ever more appreciative of what accounts for their own sense of self-identity.

Pippi Longstocking

Author: Astrid Lindgren.

Category: Teacher’s choice ‘Acceptance,’ (Grade 4).

Summary: Lindgren’s book tells about the adventures of an unconventionally minded (dressed) 10-year old girl Pippi, living in Stockholm during the course of the seventies. While facing different life-challenges, she becomes ever more appreciative of her friends. This book is being commonly regarded as one of the early examples of children’s literature, where the theme of acceptance defines the qualitative aspects of the plot’s unraveling.

Critique: Pippi Longstocking is a masterfully written literary piece. Nevertheless, in order for potential readers to be comfortable with the explored theme of acceptance, they should be qualified as accomplished Grade 4 readers. Pippi Longstocking can be referred to in the classroom, as such that is being potentially capable in helping children to adopt a proper posture in life.

Additional information: This particular book can be used as both: an educational asset, meant to enhance the concerned students’ reading skills, and the instrument of helping young readers to expand their intellectual horizons.

The Boy in the Drawer

Author: Robert Munsch.

Category: Author study ‘Robert Munsch’, (Grade 1).

Summary: This illustrated book provides young readers with an allegorical account of what happens when people allow their sense of anger to define their actions. One’s willingness to focus on negativity in life is symbolized by the imaginary boy in a drawer, whose very appearance radiates annoyance.

Critique: This particular book by Munsch is definitely adjusted to the manner in which young children tend to perceive the surrounding reality. Therefore, ‘absorbing’ the conveyed message, on the part of readers, should not prove utterly challengeable. Teachers should also be able to refer to The Boy in the Drawer while encouraging children not to be overly concentrated on their unconscious fears/anxieties.

Additional information: This book can be well used when introducing students to the figure of Robert Munsch as a children’s writer.

Angela’s Airplane

Author: Robert Munsch.

Category: Author study ‘Robert Munsch’, (Grade 2).

Summary: Munsch’s book tells the story of a 7-year girl Angela, who had the experience of piloting a passenger plane and landing it safely – quite contrary to the actual odds. Throughout the course of her adventure, Angela learns a great deal about the profession of a pilot.

Critique: Despite the fact that the reading of this book may come in handy, within the context of children familiarizing themselves with what it feels like being a pilot, the book’s subtly conveyed idea that stealing a plane should necessarily lead towards the concerned individual ending up becoming a pilot, can hardly be considered socially appropriate. Nevertheless, teachers should be able to use the book Angela’s Airplane while they try to prompt students to think of technologically advanced careers as such that emanate a strongly defined emotional appeal.

Additional information:. This particular book may also be referred to in classes, where children learn the actual meaning of the most basic technical terms associated with the realities of modern living.

The Paper Bag Princess

Author: Robert Munsch.

Category: Author study ‘Robert Munsch’, (Grade 3).

Summary: In his illustrated book, Munsch tells the story of Princess Elizabeth, who realizes that her intended fiancée Prince Ronald does not have what it takes to be able to kill the dragon in order to qualify to live with her ‘happily ever after.’ In its turn, this causes Princess Elizabeth to decide to adopt a masculine stance in