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History Nerdfest 2017 Day Two: NCSS Notable Trade Books for elementary kids

I’ve got a Diet Pepsi, blueberry scone, a front row seat at the first session of the day, and the internet is working. Life is good.

We’re kicking off Nerdfest 2017 with the great folks from the National Council for the Social Studies Notable Trade Books committee. If you’re not familiar with Notable Trade Books, take a few minutes to head over and get a quick overview. The concept is simple. Browse through hundreds and hundreds of social studies related books. Select the best ones. Collect them all together into a downloadable PDF. Share with the world.

I’m going to highlight some of what they share about the latest trade books list with a focus on elementary level books. These are perfect for integrating social studies into your literacy and ELA lessons. Go back to the Trade Books page to download lists from previous years.

(Find detailed lesson plans for each book at the bottom of the post.)

Follow That Map
Kids will enjoy following Sally and her friends as they search for Max and Ollie, a mischievous dog and cat on the lam from the backyard. Sally and friends take an imaginative trip through the neighborhood, city and country, around the world and beyond. Kids can join in the search for Max and Ollie, who are hiding somewhere in every map. Kids learn about different types of maps, directions, parts of a map. Perfect for leading into kids making their own maps.

A Bike Like Sergio’s
Written for K-3 students, A Bike Like Sergio’s focuses doing the right thing. Ruben feels like he is the only kid without a bike. His friend Sergio reminds him that his birthday is coming, but Ruben knows that the kinds of birthday gifts he and Sergio receive are not the same. After all, when Ruben’s mom sends him to Sonny’s corner store for groceries, sometimes she doesn’t have enough money for everything on the list. So when Ruben sees a dollar bill fall out of someone’s purse, he picks it up and puts it in his pocket. But when he gets home, he discovers it’s not one dollar or even five or ten—it’s a hundred-dollar bill! But what about the crossed-off groceries? And what about the woman who lost her money?

Great for economics and character development.

Thomas and the Toadily Terrible Bully
Thomas hates being ignored. But when his attempts to impress everyone don’t make him any friends, he decides to be a bully instead. There’s just one problem: he makes a terrible bully. A toadilly terrible one, in fact.

It turns out, though, that there’s an even bigger bully around, and Thomas discovers what it feels like to be the one bullied. But a bit of teamwork helps him outwit the bully and make a new friend. A nice way to talk and learn about relationships.

We Came to America
From the Native Americans who first called this land their home, to the millions of people who have flocked to its shores ever since, America is a country rich in diversity. Some of our ancestors were driven by dreams and hope. Others came in chains, or were escaping poverty or persecution. No matter what brought them here, each person embodied a unique gift—their art and music, their determination and grit, their stories and their culture. And together they forever shaped the country we all call home. Vividly expressed in Faith Ringgold’s sumptuous colors and patterns, We Came to America is an ode to every American who came before us.

Great for highlighting how we’re all connected, accepting differences, and learning ways to show respect for others.

Isaac and His Amazing Asperger’s Super Powers
Straightforward and engaging, Isaac’s first-person narrative will help kids see the world through the eyes of a child with the high-cognitive type of autism spectrum disorder commonly known as Asperger syndrome.

A good way to teach kids about differences and acceptance. What are your superpowers? How can your powers help you and others? What problems might they cause?

Freedom Over Me
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away. In a deeply powerful way, Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that can’t be bought or sold – dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document and others like it. Visually epic, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

More for upper elementary kiddos.

Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service
The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness – and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service. Tie Sing was born in the mountains. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.

When Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook. On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains. Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

Mountain Chef is the Carter Woodson Award winning book for 2017 and perfect for talking about people, places, and environments.

We all use trade books as part of our elementary instruction. So why not use social studies related books?

Grab lesson plans for these and other elementary level books at this Google Drive folder.

(This list of teaching suggestions would also be useful. You might try this list to. Buying sample books at Amazon? Be sure to set up your account for something called Amazon Smile. This sends a little bit of your purchase price to a charity of your choice.)


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