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Summer with Books

Favorite Books and Reading Recommendations: Let's Create a Reading List for Sumner Elementary Students!

Regarding the universe of knowledge and imagination, there's no better launchpad than a good book. Reading sharpens the mind and stimulates curiosity, creativity, empathy, and resilience. Today, let's build an inclusive, diverse, and age-appropriate reading list that caters to our vibrant Sumner Elementary community.

Pre-Kindergarten to First Grade

The main expectation for this age group is to cultivate an initial interest in reading and to stimulate their imaginations. The books we've chosen are designed to be engaging, with colorful illustrations and simple, captivating narratives. The stories should encourage curiosity and teach fundamental concepts like numbers, colors, shapes, and basic life cycles.

In a discussion board setting, students can share their favorite parts of the stories and why they liked them. Parents and teachers can talk about reading experiences at home and how the children respond to the stories. This can serve as a springboard to talk about learning objectives and how to further encourage reading at home.

  • "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle: This classic picture book follows a ravenous caterpillar on a journey of transformation, teaching little ones about the life cycle of a butterfly in the process.
  • "Where the Wild Things Are": A beloved story by Maurice Sendak that encourages imagination, it teaches kids that even when they feel lonely or misunderstood, they are always loved.
  • "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!": Infused with humor and simplicity, this book by Mo Willems invites interactive reading and helps understand rules and why they exist.

Second to Third Grade

As students progress to the second and third grades, the focus shifts to improving vocabulary and reading comprehension and introducing more complex narratives. The chosen books can help students understand basic emotions, develop empathy, and introduce them to different cultures and times. The books should also start fostering an independent reading habit.

Regarding a discussion board post, students can be asked to write short book reports, discussing what they liked and didn't like, what they learned from the story, or how they felt about the characters. These activities will help improve their skills of communicating complex ideas and thinking about different perspectives when talking about a story.

  • "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White: This touching tale of friendship and sacrifice between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte helps children understand complex themes like mortality and compassion.
  • "The Magic Tree House series" by Mary Pope Osborne: These adventure-filled books will transport children to different places and times, encouraging a love for history and culture.
  • "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid": A hilarious series that captures the essence of navigating school and family life. Jeff Kinney offers relatable experiences for many students.

Fourth to Fifth Grade

In these grades, we aim to expose students to various genres, including fantasy, mystery, and realism. The focus is enhancing critical thinking and comprehension skills and fostering a deeper understanding of complex themes. The selected books can help students connect with diverse characters, explore moral dilemmas, and examine societal and personal issues.

Students can delve into more complex assignments for the discussion board, such as character analysis, thematic discussions, or comparing and contrasting different books. Teachers can also use these discussions to gauge reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

  • "Harry Potter series": No reading list would be complete without J.K. Rowling. It's a perfect introduction to fantasy, promoting themes of friendship, bravery, and the age-old battle between good and evil.
  • "Holes" by Louis Sachar: A multi-layered narrative that weaves together mystery, adventure, and historical flashbacks, teaching children about redemption, friendship, and destiny.
  • "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio: This book introduces children to Auggie, a boy with a facial difference starting middle school. It promotes empathy, understanding, and acceptance.

Inclusivity and Diversity

Books can help students get a wider cultural perspective based on the ideas of acceptance and understanding. By exposing young readers to various characters and situations, they can learn empathy and respect for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, abilities, or identities.

On the discussion board, students, parents, and teachers can share their experiences and learnings from these stories. It's also a space for sharing other recommended books that promote diversity and inclusion. Teachers can guide discussions to ensure they are respectful and insightful.

  • "Julian is a Mermaid" by Jessica Love (PreK-1st): This beautifully illustrated book supports individuality and non-conformity, teaching about acceptance and self-identity.
  • "The Name Jar" by Yangsook Choi (2nd-3rd): A tale about a Korean girl in an American school that teaches the importance of cultural identity and respect for diversity.
  • "Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson (4th-5th): This memoir, written in verse, shares the author's experience of growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, a profound lesson in history and resilience.


Non-fiction books can foster a curiosity about the world, encourage an interest in different subjects, and help children understand complex concepts in a simpler, more relatable way.

Discussion board activities for non-fiction books could include students sharing an interesting fact they learned or something they found surprising. These discussions help identify areas of interest for each student and encourage them to explore these subjects further.

In all these discussions, we should remember the ultimate goal: to foster a lifelong love for reading and learning in our students. Creating an environment where all students feel heard, valued, and excited to share their thoughts is essential. This will help ensure that our discussion board doesn't just become an assignment but a platform for growth and exploration.

  • "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf (PreK-1st): A classic tale of a pacifist bull who preferred smelling flowers to fighting, teaching children it's okay to be different.
  • "Who Was/Is… series" by various authors (2nd-3rd): These biographical books introduce significant historical and contemporary figures, presenting accessible and engaging learning opportunities.
  • "Hidden Figures Young Readers' Edition" by Margot Lee Shetterly (4th-5th): This book highlights the contributions of African-American women mathematicians to NASA during the Space Race, promoting science, technology, and diversity.

Remember, this list aims to foster a love of reading in our students, promote inclusivity, and spark curiosity about the world. Feel free to suggest additional books that have resonated with your children. After all, our ultimate aim is to turn the page to a brighter, better-read future.

Discussion Board Post Examples

Pre-Kindergarten to First Grade
  • Discussion Prompt: After reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," what was your favorite food the caterpillar ate?
  • Example Post: "I liked when the caterpillar ate the watermelon. It is my favorite fruit, and it looks funny when he eats it!"
Second to Third Grade
  • Discussion Prompt: Main characters go on many adventures in "The Magic Tree House" series. If you could go on an adventure, where would you go and why?
  • Example Post: "If I could go on an adventure like Jack and Annie, I would want to go to Ancient Egypt. I want to see the pyramids and learn how they were built."
Fourth to Fifth Grade
  • Discussion Prompt: After reading "Wonder," how do you think the main character felt on his first day of school? Have you ever felt like that?
  • Example Post: "Auggie must have been nervous on his first day, especially because he was worried about what others would think of him. I felt like Auggie when I started at a new school last year. I was worried about making friends because I didn't know anyone."
Inclusivity and Diversity
  • Discussion Prompt: In "Julian is a Mermaid," Julian uniquely expresses himself. Can you think of a time when you especially expressed yourself?
  • Example Post: "In the school talent show last year, I did a magic trick instead of singing or dancing like most kids. I was nervous, but I wanted to show everyone I love magic. I felt proud afterward."
  • Discussion Prompt: From reading the "Who Was/Is…" series, share a fact about a person you found interesting and why.
  • Example Post: "I read 'Who Was Albert Einstein?' and learned that this great person didn't speak until he was 3. I find this interesting because it shows that everyone develops at their own pace, and you can't predict someone's future based on how they are as a kid."

It is understandable that elementary students might need help in addition to these examples. They can ask to “write my discussion board post” and receive professional assistance that enables them to expand their knowledge and learn more.

These discussion posts aim to stimulate conversation, empathy, critical thinking, and a deeper understanding of the text. Students should feel encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings, and teachers should foster a respectful and encouraging environment.