Even though I’m not a language arts teacher, I’ve always held in high regard the importance of keeping literacy a priority for my students. Recently, I began building a small classroom library within my science classroom filled with books that I have read and can discuss with my students to encourage them to make reading a priority. In Mrs. Gay’s Bookshelf, I will add brief book reviews of books (fiction and nonfiction) that can be found in my classroom library. I will focus on books that relate to science, Family & Consumer Sciences, and professional development for teachers. For your convenience, I’ve included links for additional information. Please note that these links are not affiliate links.
Science – Fiction
Life as We Knew It (Susan Beth Pfeffer)
Topics: earth science, astronomy, weather, end of the world, food insecurity, gardening, survival, relationships
Life as We Knew It shares a year in the life of Miranda, a high school sophomore. Miranda struggles with her parents’ divorce, but her life finds an even greater challenge when, one day, a meteor knocks the moon closer to earth, setting off a domino effect of catastrophic events. This post-apocalyptic thriller – the first in a series of novels – had me reeled in for the entire book asking, “What’s next?”. Reading about the dynamics of Miranda and the relationships with her family and friends as they work to survive their new world, brings emotion and an opportunity to reflect on personal values. This novel may be intense for younger readers, but many of my 8th grade students love this book.
Check out more about this book and resources related to this book at Susan Beth Pfeffer’s website, http://susanbethpfeffer.blogspot.com/2010/08/study-and-discussion-guides-for-life-as.html.
Science – Nonfiction
Girls Think of Everything (Catherine Thimmesh; Illustrated by Melissa Sweet)
Topics: women, science, engineering, inventors
The ingenuity of women is the theme of this beautifully illustrated book that is geared toward motivated girls to consider their own worthy, world-changing ideas. The front and back of the book has a timeline, from 3000 B.C. to 1995, of important inventions created by women along with the name of the inventors. The book then showcases ten women who, often through necessity, developed their ideas into inventions that have changed our lives. These creations include everything from the Tollhouse Cookie to important advances for the sake of space travel. Finally, it highlights the ideas of two modern girls that took risks in sharing their own ideas and offers information on how girls can submit their own ideas or inventions in competitions or for U.S. patents. This is an easy read as it is probably best suited for 4th -6th grade students; however, I enjoyed reading about these amazing women and examining the detailed, thought-filled illustrations that accompanied each bio.
Check out more about this award-winning book on Catherine Thimmesh’s website at https://www.catherinethimmesh.com/books/girls_everything/.
Family & Consumer Science – Fiction
Sundae My Prince Will Come (Suzanne Nelson)
Topics: culinary arts, relationships, goal-setting, employability skills, divorce, budgeting, ballet, dance
Malie is a teen with big goals and dreams. Dance is her life and as she anxiously prepares for the try outs for the conservatory’s production of Cinderella, it seems that everything goes awry. She is frustrated that her mother demands her time. Malie is expected to help out at the ice cream shop and her mother does not support her dreams of becoming a ballerina. To complicate matters more, the presence of a new boy in town brings confusion to Malie at a time that she needs no distractions.
This story offers students a look at making healthy relationship choices while balancing life goals. It takes a fun turn into the world of culinary arts as the characters explore options for new flavors of ice cream and gelato. Recipes for some of the favorites are even included in the back of the book. It is an easy read at the 5th grade level and is well-suited for middle school students, primarily 5th through 7th grade.
Check out more about this book and other foodie, fiction novels from Suzanne Nelson at her website, https://www.suzannenelson.com/books/sundae-my-prince-will-come/.
Family & Consumer Science – Nonfiction
Children’s Quick & Easy Cookbook (Angela Wilkes)
Topics: culinary arts, kitchen safety
DK Publishing always builds interesting publications through their use of beautiful, vivid photography and this cookbook for children is no different. When I was young, this is exactly the type of book that I would have spent numerous hours examining, desiring to make every recipe within the book. It begins with a table of contents dividing the recipes into super-fast snacks, speedy meals, perfect puddings, and treats & sweets. The contents also provide photos and descriptions of each of the recipes for easy perusal. Each recipe includes simple ingredients and step-by-step instructions with photos, while providing a culinary vision for the final product. Children can also learn common culinary and cooking terms using the picture glossary which presents terms, descriptions, and photos. This book is suitable for elementary and middle school students and also offers teachers of Family & Consumer Sciences an excellent resource for recipes for student labs.
Check out more about this book and other related books at the DK Publishing website, https://www.dk.com/us/book/9780756618148-childrens-quick-and-easy-cookbook/.