As we mentioned last week, we are working with Lerner Publisher to help them reorganize their catalog. We are also aligning their books to the Common Core State Standards. When we received ALL the Lerner books (about 1200 titles) we were quite excited by the quality. We were originally concerned that we would be trying to align mediocre texts, which would make teaching with them mis-aligned to begin with! But Lerner has given us absolute permission to cull any titles that we don’t think should make the cut, and we have used this trump card some. That said, the vast majority of books are excellent, and most are non-fiction.
Sharing these titles with you is not part of our Lerner contract in any way. We are just immersed in the books and really want to share them with you. Over the next week, possibly two, we will share titles from Lerner and offer suggestions for using them in the classroom to meet the demands of the Common Core.
Lerner has a lot of biography from a series called “On My Own History.” Most were printed around 2000. While some of the covers look a little dated, the text is mostly solid. Most of the books deal with little-known but very interesting historical events, and generally avoid stereotyping that is prominent in non-fiction for children. Presumably in the interest of updating this collection, the books were remade into two different series, “History’s Kid Heroes” and “History Speaks.” The former is in graphic novel form. The latter is in picture book form with reader’s theater scripts in the back.
While it is common for publishers to take an earlier version of a text out of circulation when a new version comes out, Lerner’s first version is still available. The change in format means that, while the books on common topics have much of the same vocabulary, even verbatim portions, they are not exactly alike and are not on the same reading level.
For example, The Girl Who Struck out Babe Ruth (2000) is written on level N, while the companion graphic novel, The Baseball Adventure of Jackie Mitchell, is on Level O (Click here to see an example of the interior images/text.). Similarly, The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft is written on Level L, while Ellen Craft’s Escape from Slavery (picture book and reader’s theatre script), is written on Level O.
There are many paired titles such as these, which lend themselves to sharing with students across instructional contexts. You might read aloud Ellen Craft’s Escape from Slavery, use The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft to read deeper in shared reading, and then use the reader’s theatre script in guided and/or independent reading and for subsequent fluency practice.
In case you are wondering, Ellen Craft dressed up as a white man and posed as her husband’s owner to travel to freedom!