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The Three-part Model for Text Complexity

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Anchor Text Synopses:

Anchor Texts

Anchor texts are hard bound books that will help retain the quality of the text book with less damage.

The anchor texts are integral to the Pathways 2.0 curriculum. They have been chosen as they are authentic, complex texts that anchor the instruction.

Each unit also includes paired text. This is an authentic text on a similar topic and theme. Paired texts include newspapers, articles, diaries, pictures, letters or book chapters. Teachers only need one copy of the paired text.

See text complexity model.

Read brief synopses of the texts.

Download Titles/Lexile Levels list.

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Theme: Heros

Grade 1—Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa was born on May 10, 1958, in Los Angeles, California. Ellen dreamed of becoming an astronaut. In 1993, Ellen became the first Hispanic woman astronaut to travel into space. She served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery and is currently the director of the Johnson Space Center. This book tells how Ellen studied math and science to become an engineer and explains how she conducted experiments and worked in space.

Grade 2—Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein

When he was born, Albert was a peculiar, fat baby with an unusually big and misshapen head. When he was older, he hit his sister, bothered his teachers, and didn’t have many friends. But in the midst of all of this, Albert was fascinated with solving puzzles and finding solutions to scientific problems. The ideas Albert Einstein came up with during his childhood as an odd boy out were destined to change the way we understand the world around us.

Grade 3—Flying High! The Story of Bessie Coleman

When Bessie Coleman was a child, she wanted to be in school—not in the cotton fields of Texas, helping her family earn money. Bessie did everything she could do to learn under the most challenging of circumstances. At the end of each day in the fields, she checked the foreman’s numbers to make sure his math was correct. This was just the beginning for Bessie, and through her hard work and dedication, she became the first African American woman to hold a pilot’s license. She died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing her new aircraft. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to African American and Native American communities.

Grade 4—The Story of George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was the son of a slave and grew up in Missouri. After earning his master’s degree in agriculture from Iowa State College in 1896, he headed the agricultural department at Booker T. Washington’s all-black Tuskegee Institute for nearly 20 years. He is best known for discovering how to make the soil more suitable for growing cotton, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. Carver’s research and innovative educational programs were aimed at helping farmers to replace expensive commodities, and he developed a variety of new uses for crops. His work was so important that he was honored by the president of the United States. He was loved and admired not only by scientists but by all who knew him.

Grade 5—Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England

Elizabeth I of England was born into an age of religious strife, in which plots and factions were everywhere, and private beliefs could be punished by death. She was a queen whose strong will, shrewd diplomacy, religious tolerance, and great love for her people won the hearts of her subjects and the admiration of her enemies. She steered her country to the glorious era of peace and security that would be called the Elizabethan Age.

Grade 6—Amos Fortune: Free Man

This Newberry Award–winning title tells the story of Amos Fortune, who was born the son of a king in the At-mun-shi tribe in Africa. When Amos was only 15 years old, he was captured by slave traders and brought to Massachusetts, where he was sold at auction. Although his freedom had been taken away, Amos never lost his dignity and courage. He dreamed of being free and of buying the freedom of his closest friends. By the time he was 60 years old, Amos Fortune began to see those dreams come true.

Grade 7—David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer

David Livingstone's captivating adventures continue to inspire countless men and women to bring the gospel message of God's love to those souls who have never heard it. With the heart of an explorer and the passion of an evangelist, David Livingstone mapped vast unexplored areas of Africa, sharing the gospel with whomever he encountered. His stamina, perseverance, and dogged determination created the legacy of a trailblazing explorer with an undying hunger to make Christ known wherever his steps led him.

Grade 8—Noah Webster: Weaver of Words

Noah Webster is considered an American hero. He was born on October 16, 1753, in the West Division of Hartford, Connecticut. He accomplished many things in his life. Not only did he fight for the American language, but he also fought for copyright laws, a strong federal government, universal education, and the abolition of slavery. He wrote textbooks, edited magazines, corresponded with men such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, helped to found Amherst College, and created his own version of the American Bible. Noah was a loving husband and the father of eight children. This title presents the life and accomplishments of the American lexicographer, who wrote the first American dictionary, published the first daily newspaper, created the first American insurance company, and was responsible for the first copyright law.

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Theme: My World and Others

Grade 1—Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding

The cuisines of many different cultures all over the world include rice and rice pudding. In this title, Jorge Argueta gives us a bilingual recipe for the classic Latin American version. He provides a poetic recipe for rice pudding that not only offers instructions for making the treat but also highlights the ways in which it can delight all the senses. The lively illustrations by Fernando Vilela feature an enthusiastic young cook who finds no end of joy in making and then slurping up the rice pudding with his family.

Grade 2—On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather

This book highlights a wide variety of weather conditions by taking a tour around the world, examining weather in different places on the same day in March. March is a dynamic time throughout the world. On the same day that it's icy cold in the Arctic, it's foggy in Louisiana and sunny in Barbados.

Grade 3—Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

This is the true story of a young seven-year-old German girl named Mercedes Simon and the American pilot Gail Halvorsen, who shared hope and joy with the children of West Berlin by dropping candy-filled parachutes during the Berlin Airlift. During the airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American pilots to fly supplies into West Berlin, Lt. Halvorsen came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot to Mercedes and the other children in the war-torn country.

Grade 4—A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of  Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero

This is the true story of a Yavapai boy called Wassaja. In his language, this name meant “Bechoning.” Wassaja was only five years old when Pima Indians kidnapped him and sold him to a white man. Thirty years later, the boy named Bechoning has grown up to become Dr. Carlos Montezuma. His work for the rights of Native Americans made him a model of hope for his people. The story is told in his own words.

Grade 5—Lewis and Clark: Opening the American West

The journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition paint a picture of life in the American West 200 years ago. Lewis and Clark and several members of their 1804 Corps of Discovery expedition made detailed notes of what they did every day. They made maps, sketched plants, described the weather, and even recorded what they ate and how they ate it. These important documents of American history describe the wildlife, plants, and people of the West in the days before European settlers came.

Grade 6—If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

Step into homes from around the world and discover the many fascinating ways people have lived and still live today. Uncover the reason why each home was constructed the way that it was—from houses built on maze-like streets (to confuse invaders) to homes built on wheels (to be able to travel in your home at any time). The illustrations by Giles Laroche feature intricate bas-relief cut-paper collages that represent the dwellings in other world regions and historical times. These illustrations explain how different people live and have lived in places all around the world.

Grade 7—Shipwrecked: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy

The law of the land in Japan read as follows: “Any person who leaves the country to go to another and later returns will be put to death.” When fourteen-year-old Manjiro was working on a fishing boat to help support his family, there was a terrible shipwreck that left him and his four companions as castaways on a remote island, 300 miles away from his homeland. He was heartbroken to think that he would never again be able to go home. So when an American whaling boat rescued him, Manjiro decided to do what no other Japanese person had ever done: He went to America, where he received an education and took part in events that eventually made him a hero in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Grade 8—I Am Malala

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. I Am Malala is the memoir of a remarkable teenage girl who risked her life for the right to go to school. Raised in a changing Pakistan by an enlightened father from a poor background and a beautiful, illiterate mother from a political family, Malala was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now she is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Noble Peace Prize winner.

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Theme: Living Things

Grade 1—A Tree Is a Plant

Did you know that a tree is the biggest plant that grows? How does a tree get the food it needs? What happens to trees in the winter? A Tree Is a Plant, written by Clyde Robert Bulla and illustrated by Stacy Schuett, is a great children's nonfiction book that introduces young children to the wonderful world of nature through trees. Read and find out about an apple tree's life cycle through every season. This is a Level 1 “Let's Read and Find Out,” which means the book explores introductory concepts appropriate for children in the primary grades.

Grade 2—Cactus Hotel

It is another hot day in the desert. Birds and other animals scurry about, looking for food. When they get tired, they stop to rest at a giant cactus. It is their hotel in the desert. Many different animals live in the cactus hotel. It protects them, and they protect it by eating the pests that could harm the cactus. The cactus grows larger and larger and will live for about 200 years. When one animal moves out, another moves in. There is never a vacancy in the cactus hotel. This story—about a desert, a giant cactus, and the animals who live in it—is one that even the youngest child will understand and enjoy.

Grade 3—Grow with Me: Spider

An exploration of the life cycle and lifespan of spiders, using up-close photographs and step-by-step text to follow a spider’s growth process from egg to spiderling to mature arachnid. Grow with Me peers under the ground, into nests, and elsewhere to explore the lives and growth of creatures. This book offers a fascinating study of the life stages that spiders experience as they mature.

Grade 4—Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage

From a boat in extremely deep waters, the vast sea appears empty. But as naturalist and artist Sophie Webb shows us, it is full of fascinating yet difficult-to-study life. In a little corner of the ship’s lab, with her water jar duct-taped to the counter, Sophie Webb sits and paints and journals, even when the ship bounces and rocks from winds and waves. Together with her shipmates, Sophie counts and collects samples of life in the deep ocean, from seabirds to dolphins, from winged fish to whales. Only their long-term fieldwork can really help scientists determine the health of these remarkable creatures who need the clean deep ocean to survive.

Grade 5—Butterflies and Moths

For Nic Bishop, butterflies are the most beautiful of insects, and the thrill of seeing one never fades. This book provides another fascinating close-up look at the wonders of the natural world. An award-winning author and photographer, Nic Bishop brings his vast knowledge of biology to this eye-catching exploration of butterflies and moths. With breathtaking full-page images, Nic introduces young readers to the beauty and diversity of these amazing insects. The simple, engaging text presents both basic information and fun, quirky facts about the insects' appearance, habits, and life cycle—including a double-gatefold spread of a butterfly in flight.

Grade 6—First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’ Story

When Noriko and Don Carroll moved from New York City to suburban Las Vegas, they found a tiny nest on a clothesline on their back porch. As the Carrolls settled into their new home, so did a female hummingbird they named Honey. For weeks, the Carrolls watched in fascination as they witnessed an event few humans are privy to: the birth and growth of two hummingbirds. First Flight is the beautifully photographed story of Honey and her two chicks, Ray and Zen. First Flight is a magical mix of hummingbird field guide, personal story, and new life taking flight. Readers will be captivated by the inherent drama as it unfolds in miniature, and they'll cheer as babies Ray and Zen make their own first flights out into a bright new world.

Grade 7—Gifts of an Eagle

Ed Durden brought a baby golden eagle home to his ranch in California, where she would stay for the next 16 years. As her bond with Ed and the Durden family grew, the eagle, named Lady, displayed a fierce intelligence and strong personality. She learned quickly, had a strong mothering instinct (even for other species), and never stopped surprising those who cared for her. The book details the true story of a golden eagle who shared her life with a human family for 16 years and gave her devoted loyalty to her master.

Grade 8—Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. A railroad construction foreman, Phineas was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a 13-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived another 11 years and became a textbook case in brain science. But Phineas was forever changed by the accident, and what happened inside his brain tells us a lot about how our brains work and what makes us who we are.

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Theme: Walking With God

Grade 1—Little Maid

Did you know that a little girl can change your heart? Little Maid is a slave girl for Captain and Lady Naaman. Little Maid knows how to wash dishes and sweep floors. But that’s not all she knows. When the captain gets sick, she knows what can make him well. Written by Etta B. Degering and illustrated by William Dolwick, Little Maid will warm your heart and bring you closer to God.

Grade 2—Twice Yours: A Parable of God’s Gifts

Experience the amazing depth of God’s love through this inspiring story of God’s redeeming grace. In this heartwarming retelling of a wonderful old fable about a young boy who made a sailboat, lost it, and bought it back, best-selling author Nan Gulery shares what God did for us through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ on Calvary, when we were made twice His. The illustrations are sure to capture the hearts of adults and children alike.

Grade 3—A Question of Yams: A Missionary Story Based on a True Event

A Question of Yams is the story of a young boy learning to trust the One True God. The people of Kuri’s village have always prayed to the spirits when they plant their yams. Now Kuri’s father prays to the God of the Bible, and the crops begin to grow. But the sun is too hot, and without water, the yams will die. The Head Men blame Kuri’s father. They say that he is being punished because he trusts in God. Kuri is afraid. If the yams die, everyone will starve. Is his father’s God mighty enough to bring rain?

Grade 4—Out of the Blue

Shadow Creek Ranch is a special place—full of beautiful things like rivers and mountains, horses to ride, and nature to explore. When the engine of young pilot Nathan McMillen’s Cessna stalled, he figured he was done for. He was ten thousand feet in the air, flying a small, high-wing airplane over the rugged mountains of western Montana. Under these circumstances, a pilot doesn’t slow to a stop—a pilot potentially glides to a crash. The pilot meets Wendy Hanson, and their introduction to each other doesn’t go all that smoothly but starts them on an adventure that changes them and the lives of others forever.

Grade 5—Guardians of the Mercy Seat

Guardians of the Mercy Seat chronicles the adventures of Laadan and his friends as they struggle to know God’s will for Israel—and their own lives—in the tumultuous days leading up to the capture of the Ark of the Covenant and during the troubled times following its seizure. Would they have the courage to stand for what they believed, no matter what? Would they ever be able to return to Shiloh to worship at the tabernacle, or had God truly abandoned Israel?

Grade 6—The Book of Jonah (New King James Version)

The Book of Jonah tells a story about a reluctant prophet who ran away from God. Jonah is called to deliver a serious message to Nineveh: the people must repent or their city will be destroyed. Jonah, in fear for his life, boards a ship and flees in the opposite direction. When a storm threatens to sink the ship, the sailors throw Jonah overboard when they discover his God sent the storm. God sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, then gives him a second chance to follow His will. What valuable lessons will Jonah learn about God when he gets that second chance?

Grade 7—Shepherd Warrior

What is it like to go away and fight? David wondered. It seems like it should be exciting, but then again, going into battle must be terribly frightening too. As far as important jobs go, being a shepherd was just about the bottom of the heap. Most people hated the idea of being a shepherd. Sheep were smelly and stupid and totally unpredictable. But to forsake them? Never. David would rather spend endless days and cold nights caring for the sheep than to risk the life of even one sheep. Come along! The journey is just beginning for the shepherd warrior.

Grade 8—Heartwarming Stories of Adventist Pioneers

Who were they really, these strong-minded Adventist pioneers? None of them was perfect, but all of them did their best, by God's grace, to spread the message of Jesus's coming return and the good news of the seventh-day Sabbath. These are their stories. James White's means of transportation on his first preaching tour was a borrowed horse. Noted surgeon Amos Twitchell amputated 12-year-old Uriah Smith's leg in a 20-minute amputation performed on the Smiths' kitchen table—with no anesthetic. Joseph Bates was almost ridden out on a rail during one of his preaching tours. And who was the object of Annie Smith's unrequited love?

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Theme: Friends and Family

Grade 1—The Doorbell Rang

Each ring of the doorbell brings more friends to share the delicious cookies Ma has made in this beloved classic. This enjoyable read-aloud picture book about friendship, sharing, and cookies can also be used to introduce basic math concepts to young children. “Refreshing, enjoyable, and unpredictable.”—School Library Journal

Grade 2—Galimoto

Kondi is determined to make a galimoto—a toy vehicle made of wires. His brother laughs at the idea, but all day Kondi goes about gathering up the wire he needs. By nightfall, his wonderful galimoto is ready for the village children to play with in the light of the moon. Galimoto is written by Karen Lynn Williams, an American writer of children's literature who is best known for her books about the difficulties faced by children in developing countries.

Grade 3—The Lemonade Club

Everyone loves Miss Wichelman’s fifth-grade class, especially best friends Traci and Marilyn. That’s where they learn that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! They are having a great year until Traci begins to notice some changes in Marilyn. She’s losing weight, and she seems tired all the time. Marilyn learns that she has leukemia and a tough road of chemotherapy ahead. It is not only Traci and Miss Wichelman who stand up for her, but in a surprising and unexpected turn, the whole fifth-grade class figures out a way to say “we’re with you.”

Grade 4—Yuki: An Alaska Adventure (Alaska Conference)

Yuki scrambles for safety as a gush of cold seawater slams through the cave opening, soaking his clothes. This is the most dangerous position he has ever been in. There is no way of escape. No one knows where he is. Is this how I will die? he wonders. Can the Creator-God help me now? Throughout the book, Yuki experiences a number of personal challenges in which he experiences a power greater than the shaman.

Grade 5—Thin Wood Walls

Eleven-year-old Joe Hanada likes playing basketball with his best friend, Ray, writing plays and stories, and thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday. But his world falls apart when Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor. His country goes to war. His father is away, and neighbors and friends begin to suspect Joe, his family, and all Japanese Americans of spying for the enemy. When the government orders people of Japanese heritage to move to internment camps, Joe turns to the journal his father gave him to record his thoughts and feelings.

Grade 6—The Door in the Wall

Ever since he can remember, Robin, son of Sir John de Bureford, has been told what is expected of him as the son of a nobleman: he must learn the ways of knighthood. But Robin's destiny is changed in one stroke; he falls ill and loses the use of his legs. Fearing a plague, his servants abandon him. He is saved by Brother Luke, a friar who teaches Robin how to swim and carve wood and about patience and strength, telling Robin that he must “find the door in the wall" to overcome his challenges. Winner of the 1950 Newbery Medal.

Grade 7—Heartbeat

Run, run, run … That's what twelve-year-old Annie loves to do. When she's barefoot and running, she can hear her heart beating: thump-Thump, thump-Thump. It's a rhythm that makes sense in a year when everything's shifting: Her mother is pregnant, her grandfather is forgetful, and her best friend, Max, is always moody. Everything changes over time, just like the apple Annie's been assigned to draw. But as she watches and listens, Annie begins to understand the many rhythms of life and how she fits within them.

Grade 8—Eric Liddell: Something Greater than Gold

Eric's refusal earlier that week to run in the Olympic 100-meter race had stunned the world. Now his incredible victory in the 400-meter race further strengthened his belief in God's promise, “He who honors Me, I will honor.” Years later, Eric Liddell would be tested far beyond mere physical ability as a missionary to China. His character, perseverance, and endurance are a challenging example for all who would obey the call to bring the gospel to the nations.

Theme: The Environment

Grade 1—We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania

Learn to count in Swahili and discover all kinds of African animals with this exciting children’s safari through the grasslands of Tanzania! The lively, rhyming text is supplemented by a map, facts about Tanzania and Maasai people, notes about each of the animals, and an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili.

Grade 2—Me … Jane

This is a story of a little girl named Jane who dreamed of a life helping animals and grew up to help change the world. “There are so many people who have dreamed seemingly unattainable dreams and, because they never gave up, achieved their goals against all the odds, or blazed a path along which others could follow … They inspire me. They inspire those around them.” Dr. Jane Goodall.

Grade 3—Will We Miss Them? Endangered Species

This book is about some amazing animals that are disappearing from the Earth. Some are becoming scarce because poachers (people who hunt illegally) kill them for their horns, tusks, skins, or furs. Others are vanishing because they cannot compete with people for space, water, or food. “The book achieves the difficult goal of providing education through entertainment. The author makes a complicated issue accessible to young children and, in turn, sparks possible continued interest in a critical world issue.”

Grade 4—Come Back Salmon

“Pigeon Creek is past saving. Maybe you should just forget it.” That is what the students of Jackson Elementary School in Everett, Washington, heard when they set out to reclaim a nearby stream that had once been a spawning ground for salmon. Undaunted, the children set to work, in this lively and inspiring account, to clean up a nearby stream, stock it with salmon, and preserve it as an unpolluted place where the salmon could return to spawn.

Grade 5—Dinosaurs: Where Did They Come from … and Where Did They Go?

Too many Christians don’t know the truth about dinosaurs. With this book for children of all ages (and their parents), author Elaine Graham-Kennedy, a Seventh-day scientist who believes the Bible story of Creation and spent her life studying dinosaurs, has much to share with kids. Dinosaurs is filled with information and ideas about these now-extinct creatures.

Grade 6—Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens

May 18, 1980, 8:32 A.M.: An earthquake suddenly triggered an avalanche on Mount St. Helens, a volcano in southern Washington State. Minutes later, Mount St. Helens blew the top off its peak and exploded into the most devastating volcanic eruption in U.S. history. What caused the eruption? What was left when it ended? What did scientists learn in its aftermath?

Grade 7—Under the Ice: A Marine Biologist at Work

Imagine suiting up and slipping into water so cold that exposed skin can freeze in seconds and equipment can suddenly seize up. These are the dangers that Kathy Conlan faces when she goes to work. Kathy is a marine biologist who has scuba-dived in oceans off the Arctic and Antarctic—two of the most hostile environments on Earth. Under the Ice is a fascinating first-person account of a woman scientist at work. Highlights of Kathy's research on how pollution affects the fragile environments under the ice and stunning photographs of places few will ever visit make this a book readers will be eager to dive into.

Grade 8—The Case of the Monkeys That Fell from the Trees

Why would several monkeys suddenly fall from the trees? How do tiny frogs make deadly poisons? Why do certain plants harbor hordes of biting ants? What kind of creature pollinates an odd-looking flower? This title answers these questions.

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Theme: Personal Feelings and Growth

Grade 1—The Art Lesson

Tommy wants to be an artist when he grows up, and he can’t wait to meet his art teacher when he gets to first grade. Then he finds out that she expects him to copy her pictures. Tommy knows real artist don’t copy! But after some discussion, they find a solution that allows the artist in Tommy to shine. DePaola’s well-honored fiction picture book has received the following awards: New York Times Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editor’s Choice, and Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year.

Grade 2—Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina

Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combinations. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. To Marisol, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense. Other people wrinkle their noses in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just choose one or the other? Try as she might, Marisol McDonald just doesn’t match … and that is just fine with her.

Grade 3—The Garden

It’s the 1930s, and when Lydia Grace’s family can’t make ends meet, she’s packed on a train with her pockets and bags filled with seeds and sent to live with her gloomy uncle Jim—a baker in the city. Lydia Grace doesn’t know much about baking bread, but she eagerly makes up for it with her green thumb. She’s in pursuit of one thing: to make Uncle Jim smile. The book speaks volumes about the vast impact one small individual can make.

Grade 4—Julius! The Perfect Pesky Pet Parrot

Mitch could not believe what his eyes were seeing. His mom’s beautiful walnut dining table and table lamp were in pieces, and the accused culprit was Julius, the perfectly pesky pet parrot. Julius annoys everyone with his phone imitations, thefts, and ear-splitting squawking. But when Julius scares away a suspicious salesperson and chases two mean dogs away, Mitch and his family start to believe that Julius isn’t as pesky as they thought.

Grade 5—A Family Apart

The Orphan Train saga follows the story of the six Kelly children, whose widowed mother has sent them west from New York City in 1856 because she realizes she cannot give them the life they deserve. The children—especially the oldest, Frances Mary—feel an overwhelming sense of betrayal and abandonment. They cannot understand that Mrs. Kelly has made the ultimate sacrifice for them. Soon, Frances experiences firsthand what it is like to make sacrifices for her family and others.

Grade 6—Songs of the Trail

Each spring, Old Doroteo drives one of Jess Cameron’s six flocks of sheep across the desert to the high summer pastures, where the grazing is lush and water is plentiful. The trip is not without danger. Jess’s son David, who is recuperating from pneumonia, receives his parents’ permission to accompany Old Doreteo to the high pastures for the season. With a little burro and a tagalong pet crow, David spends seven months on the sheep trail and experiences both adventures and challenges, including getting lost in the desert for two days and losing a dear friend. The story tells of how the sadness, laughter, and frustration of the sheep trail taught David to be responsible for his obligations and to always put his trust in the Good Shepard.

Grade 7—Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

“To do the best for myself with the view of making the best of myself,” wrote Maritcha Remond Lyons about her childhood. Maritcha was born in New York City in 1848. For most of her youth, she and her family lived in Lower Manhattan. Her life mirrored that of many children of the time, but it took a dramatic turn in 1863 when, at the age of fifteen, she and her family had to flee from their home in the midst of the violent Draft Riots. Maritcha triumphantly overcame prejudices to become the first black person to graduate from Providence High School.

Grade 8—A Single Shard

Tree-ear has a dream. He has watched the master potter Min take a lump of clay and shape it into a thing of beauty. For Tree-ear, the transformation is a miracle. He wants to perform such a miracle himself someday. But you cannot just walk up to a master potter and ask him to teach you his craft, especially not if you’re an orphan like Tree-ear. First, you must prove that you are worthy of Min’s time and teaching. So he asks the master if he can work with him, without pay, for the privilege of being near such talent. Tree-ear knows that his dream might be far away, but he feels that if he takes the journey one hill, one valley, and one day at a time, he will achieve it.

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Theme: Yesterday

Grade 1—The Warrior Maiden

This book is about a brave Hopi girl named Huh-ay-ay who helps save her tribe's pueblo from Apache raiders. The title alone captures attention because young girls are not often referred to as warriors. When Apache raiders attack the Hopi pueblo, Huh-ay-ay must think fast—and run faster—to save her people. Will Huh-ay-ay's plan scare off the fearsome Apache?

Grade 2—Charlie Horse

God has special plans, even for a horse! Charlie was just a country horse; hardly anyone paid attention to him—that is, until an angel told Ellen White that Charlie was the perfect horse for her. Written by Paul B. Ricchiuti an award-winning author of children’s books and a recipient of numerous awards. Paul is also an artist in oils of Western scenes and a spellbinding storyteller. He lives in New Meadows, Idaho.

Grade 3—Sarah, Plain and Tall

“Did Mama sing every day?” Caleb asks his sister Anna. “Every-single-day,” she answers. “Papa sang too.” Their mother died the day after Caleb was born. Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa does not sing anymore. Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine. Sarah decides to come for a month.

Grade 4—The Cabin Faced West

Ann Hamilton is so lonely—her family has moved to the western frontier of Pennsylvania, and there are no friends to be found for miles around. Her family has to work hard in the garden and in the fields, and there’s never time for a party. Ann wishes she could move back to her old home in Gettysburg, until one day when the Hamiltons receive a surprise visit from a very important guest, and Ann realizes there’s nowhere she’d rather be than in the West.

Grade 5—Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Peg Kehret tells the true story of the year when she was 12 and stricken with polio. At first paralyzed and terrified, she fought her way to recovery, aided by doctors and therapists, a loving family, supportive roommates fighting their own battles with the disease, and plenty of grit and luck. With her trademark humor and suspense, Peg Kehret re-creates a year of heartbreak and triumph.

Grade 6—A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours' walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.

Grade 7—Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor

By the early 1900s, many Americans were calling child labor “child slavery” and were demanding an end to it. At a desperate time in American history, America’s army of child laborers had been growing steadily for a century. More than 2 million American children under 16 years of age were a regular part of the workforce. Many of them worked 12 hours or more a day, six days a week, for pitiful wages under unhealthy and hazardous conditions. Hine, an investigative reporter for the National Child Labor Committee, took photographs that provided dramatic visual evidence that the United States needed laws against child labor. This book features Hines's groundbreaking photos, along with text by Newbery Honor Winner Russell Freedman.

Grade 8—The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Sister

They threw rocks and rotten eggs at the school window. Villagers refused to sell Miss Crandall groceries or let her students attend the town church. The town authorities dragged her to jail and put her on trial for breaking the law. Her crime? Trying to teach African American girls geography, history, reading, philosophy, and chemistry by opening and maintaining one of the first African American schools in America. Find out what it is like to try to change the world when few agree with you.

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Theme: Social Issues and Culture

Grade 1—Cleversticks

Ling Sung does not like school. All of the kids seem to be good at something: Terry can tie his shoes, Manjit can print her name, and Sharon can do up her coat with no buttons left over! Then one day, Ling Sung discovers he can do something too—a “cleverstick” trick that his whole class wants to try. This book says a great deal, very simply, about children’s need to achieve, to conform, and to belong.

Grade 2—Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark

Young Helen Keller was blind and deaf. Her world was dark and silent—until she met a wonderful teacher named Annie. This book is dedicated to all the teachers who help to inspire their students and, most importantly, teach with compassion and respect for the student.

Grade 3—I Miss Grandpa: A Story to Help Young Children

Stevie loved visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm. Grandpa let Stevie feed the chickens and lambs and ride on the tractor. They always had so much fun. One day not long after a visit to the farm, something went wrong with Grandpa’s heart, and he died. Stevie had lost his best friend. He missed his grandpa and wondered what it was like to die. This book was written with the parent in mind. The story tells of love, loss, and a butterfly that helps children deal with loss and understanding death.

Grade 4—Twenty and Ten

“If we take these children, we can never betray them, no matter what the Nazis do.” During the German occupation of France, twenty French children were brought to a refuge in the mountains. One day, a young man came to their school with a request: Could they take in, and hide, ten Jewish refugee children? Sister Gabriel spoke up: “The Nazis are looking for those children. If we take them, we must never let on that they are here. Do you understand?” Of course the children understood—but how would they hide if the Nazis came?

Grade 5—Journey to Jo’burg: A South African Story

If only Mma was here, Naledi wished over and over. Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn't until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

Grade 6—Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Ortega is a very wealthy girl who has everything she could ever want, alongside a loving mother and father. One day, her father and some of his men are suddenly killed by bandits while they are out working on the family's ranch in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Esperanza's father had intended to leave everything he owned to his wife, Ramona, and Esperanza. However, the family's lawyer informs them that a loophole in the will means that the ranch, their greatest source of income, will go to Señor Ortega's stepbrother, Luis Ortega, whom Esperanza calls Tío Luis. Luis just so happens to be a suspect in Señor Ortega's murder. He plans to delve into politics and feels that Ramona, who is a beloved local socialite, would look good by his side. Luis offers to marry Ramona, but she refuses, and in response, he issues a warning that Ramona and Esperanza will be in danger if she does not comply.

Grade 7—Drowned City, Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.

On August 29, 2005, hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging waters overwhelmed the protective levees around the low-lying areas of New Orleans, Louisiana. The book touches on tales of selflessness, heroism, and courage—incompetence, racism, and criminality—after more than 1,800 people lost their lives and property damage topped $100 billion. A graphic novel, written and illustrated by Don Brown the book captures both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

Grade 8—The Book of Luke

The Book of Luke is the third Gospel account of the life of Jesus, most likely written after Matthew, Mark, and John. The focus is a well-researched, chronological account that highlights the humanity of Jesus and His compassion and love for the outcasts of the Jewish culture. Luke was the only Gospel writer who did not know Jesus personally, but he interviewed eyewitnesses to create his account. He was most likely a Gentile doctor who traveled with Paul (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24).

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