Tag Archive for reading level

Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa

Written by Erica Silverman
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin

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Best friends Kate and her horse, Cocoa, team up for two delightful stories in Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa.

In the first story, “The Surprise,” Cocoa shows his impatience when Kate enters the barn with a surprise package. Cocoa wants his surprise immediately. He refuses to eat his breakfast and shows his irritation when Kate grooms him. When Cocoa takes a bite out of his new straw hat surprise, Cocoa learns his lesson about being impatient and obstinate.

In “Bedtime in the Barn,” Kate camps out in the barn with her pet horse, Cocoa. Each time Kate attempts to settle down for sleep, Cocoa has a request, like fluffing his straw, hunger, or thirst. Once Cocoa is finally satisfied, Kate can’t fall asleep. Cocoa saves the day when he sings her a sweet lullaby and snuggles close to her on the straw.

The Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series by popular duo Silverman and Lewin are familiar titles with teachers and librarians and have been reissued under the “Green Light Reader” category. The Kate and Cocoa series is a Level 2 Green Light Readers story, for those who can read with help. The most difficult word in the story is the word “curried,” used when Kate grooms the horse. With sentence brevity and simple vocabulary, children will feel great success when reading this story. This book is appropriate for late kindergarten grade level or early first grade level.

This book would be an excellent read for children who need to learn about patience. The humorous ending of the story helps children learn a lesson, but chuckle along with Cowgirl Kate as Cocoa gets his just reward for acting petulantly. The second story in the book is perfect for children who are thinking about getting a pet. Children learn about being a responsible pet owner and the needs and requirements of an animal when Kate camps out in the barn. And lastly, another bonus for reading this story is the enjoyment of the friendship between Kate and Cocoa. Young readers internalize the concept that not all best friends are the two-legged kind!

To make this book even more fun to read, readers can build a fort in the house or classroom with sheets draped over chairs or a table. Then, place a flashlight inside the “tent” and dim the lights in that area, if possible, and allow the children to read by flashlight and pretend to camp out in the barn, like Kate does.

For follow-up reading activities, teachers or parents should check out the teachers’ guide icon on the left margin of this page: http://www.ericasilverman.com/works.htm.  Also after reading the story, make a bar graph of the students’ pets. Which pet is the most popular? The most unusual? Smallest or largest? Discuss at length the responsibilities of owning a pet. Talk about the needs and requirements of the different pets in the class graph, as well as the cost and emotional responsibilities of owning a pet.

  • Cowgirl KateTITLE: Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
  • AUTHOR: Erica Silverman
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Betsy Lewin
  • PUBLISHER: Sandpiper/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Julie Lavender
  • EDITION: Hard Cover, 30 pages
  • ISBN: 978-544-02268-3
  • GENRE: Humor
  • LEXILE: 310

Shadows on My Wall

Written & Illustrated by Timothy Young

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Monsters are a familiar problem for children at the first grade reading level. Helping youngsters find ways to deal with the idea of monsters in a way that is fun and empowering for them is not easy. This book, whether used to build comprehension or as a read aloud, will help youngsters deal with some of their terrors.

Shadows on My Wall is a well-written and illustrated picture book that will capture the imagination of youngsters. It opens with a little boy’s bedroom at night, light from the streetlights shining in through the window with very creepy shadows on the wall by his bed. While it is clear these are simply spooky-looking tree branches, soon the boy’s imagination takes over and they look more like monsters to him. But maybe they aren’t monsters. Maybe they are dinosaurs, and dinosaurs are pretty cool. The boy’s imagination keeps on working and the shadows take on new form after new form until the boy makes a shadow of his own. That is the beginning of the boy’s ability to take charge of those pesky shadows. This is very empowering for little ones.

A spread at the back of the book shows several shadows children can make with their hands and how to do them. The author/illustrator has a web site at www.shadowsonmywall.com, however, there are no teaching materials there or on the publisher’s website.

There are three other picture books by the same author, two of which have monster themes.

  • Shadows on My WallTitle: Shadows on My Wall
  • Author/Illustrator: Timothy Young
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, 2012
  • Reviewer: Rosi Hollinbeck
  • Format: Paperback, 40 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0764342240
  • Genre: Fiction, Imagination

And the Winner Is… Amazing Animal Athletes

Written by Etta Kaner

Illustrated by David Anderson

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Get ready for the World Animal Games hosted by Walrus and Cockatoo! And the Winner Is… gives first grade readers a fun and fantastic opportunity to learn about the super power of animals. And it turns out that animals really are amazing athletes – especially in comparison to humans!

The events are high jump, sprinting, weight lifting, swimming, long jump, aerobatics, and the marathon. In each category there are four competitors.  Readers are asked to predict who will win and the results are often surprising!

The layout of each spread invites readers to pick and choose between small pieces of text according to their reading level. With commentary at the top by Walrus and Cockatoo, game cards for each competitor that give stats on the creature’s class, home, habitat, and food preferences, and witty banter between the athletes and the crowd, there really is something of interest to every reader.

One spread introduces the competitor and the next spread declares the winner.  This is followed by a comparison of how the winning result compares to the average human.  The flea, for example, wins the high jump contest by leaping 150 times its own height.  The human high jump record, in comparison, is less than two times the jumper’s height.  And the delightful and humbling fact is that the human doesn’t come close to winning in any of these categories.

Author Etta Kaner makes use of every opportunity to provide additional information about the animals and their amazing abilities without ever making it feel forced. As an illustrated guide, And the Winner Is… is perfectly suited to the first grade level but will also find appeal among younger and older students (and even adults!)

  • Winner IsTitle: AND THE WINNER IS… Amazing Animal Athletes
  • Author: Etta Kaner
  • Illustrator: David Anderson
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2013
  • Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
  • Format: Hardcover, 36 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-55453-904-8
  • Genre: Science, Nature
  • Lexile Score: IG550