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Build-a-Booklist
Your Guide to Introducing Books
About Sunlight and Seasonal Change to Students
(Back to this Month's Countdown)

Introduction

How do you find the best books about sunlight and seasonal change for your students to read during Mystery Class? Which books will invite, nurture, and sustain their interest? The activities in this guide engage students in the process of building a kid-tested, teacher-approved booklist for your classroom learning center.

1. Hunt and Gather

What books about sunlight and seasons can students find in from your school's media center? Plan a "hunting and gathering" expedition to find out. Grab several empty book baskets and ask your class to fill them with books about seasons. Be sure they look for books in the astronomy section.

Challenge students to find and collect a variety of genres: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reference, anthologies and more. Make arrangements with the media specialist to check out all of the books.

Display the books in a "Mystery Class learning center." Encourage students to browse through the books and generate a list of their "Top Five Picks" for independent or partner reading time.

Trade books: Sunlight and Seasonal Change

 

2. Read and Review

Provide time for students to read the books independently or with a partner. Encourage them to record their thoughts and discoveries on post-it notes. After each reading session, invite students to share their post-it-note-thoughts with the class.

Place students in small groups. Showcase this sample book review adapted from Amazon. (Online booksellers are a great place to find and print more samples specific to the grade level you teach.) Use guiding questions that will help students explore the content and purposes of a book review.

After exploring what is in a review and why they are written, invite students to create their own. See the book review template to get started. Encourage them to review their post-it notes to get started. Provide time for students to share their reviews.

Book review sample
Sample Book Review

Book review template
Book Review Template

3. Sort and Share

Place students in small groups and give each group a small stack of books from the learning center collection. Ask them to take a closer look at the books to identify what kinds of facts are revealed. Have each group talk about how they would sort their stack of books by topic: photoperiods, latitude/longitude, equinox/solstice, etc.

Once the books have been sorted, ask each group to discuss and select which books they would recommend based on specified topics. For example:

  • Which books would you recommend to readers who want facts about why there is seasonal change?
  • Which books describe the equinox and solstice in the most interesting way?
  • Which books provide details about earth's orbit around the sun?

Have each group share their recommendations by compiling and designing a topic-specific booklist on poster paper. When the books are ready to be returned to the school library, work as a class to create and set up a display that showcases their booklists and reviews.

What facts are revealed in each book? How would you sort the books by topic? Possible topics:

  • Reasons for Seasons
  • Equinox and Solstice
  • Photoperiod/Day Length
  • Latitude/Longitude
  • Rotation/Revolution
  • Earth's Orbit
  • Earth's Axis and Tilt
  • Prime Meridian
  • Universal Time (GMT)