February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Resources for Newbery Award-Winners │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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The results are in. Four Honor books were selected along with the winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal on Monday, January 27. Librarians will find that these titles have great kid appeal for students in grades two to nine; meeting learning standards while using the following booktalks and accompanying resources for these acclaimed books is an added bonus.

The Year of Billy Miller (and Other Beginning Chapter Books)Henkes, Kevin. The Year of Billy Miller. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2013. ISBN 9780062268136. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

The summer after Billy Miller hits his head, he worries if he will be smart enough for second grade. His teacher, Ms. Silver, assures him that he is. Now that Billy is older, he wants to call his papa, Dad. How will his father react? Will it hurt his feelings? And papa is struggling with his big art break. What can Billy do to help him? Little sister Sal can be a pain. She even gets glitter on his bat cave project! And his mom becomes the subject of his class project, though it’s really hard to write about her. (He’d rather write about volcanoes.) Why does life have to be so difficult?

Commonly mispronounced, you can hear the author speak his name on TeachingBooks.net. Henkes’s website includes multiple resources for many of his books. You’ll find teaching resources, interviews, games, articles and videos. A teaching guide is available for the Newbery Honor book. Don’t miss Henkes’s next book with HarperCollins by signing up for AuthorTracker. Just as Ms. Silver taught her class about Chinese New Year, you have access to ready-to-use lesson plans on Scholastic and TeacherVision.com, which provides videos, printables, recipes and history resources. Students can create their own found poetry using primary resources at the Library of Congress. ReadWriteThink also has CCSS lesson plans for grades 6-8 on Found Poetry.

Recognition includes: 2014 Newbery Honor; SLJs Best Books of 2013, Fiction;  Amazon.com Best Books of the Year 2013: Ages 9-12; Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2013

One Came HomeTIMBERLAKE, Amy. One Came Home. Knopf. 2013. ISBN 9780375969256. JLG Level:  C : Advanced Readers (Grades 6–9).

Georgie refuses to believe that her sister is dead. Anyone could have taken that dress. Full of courage and anger, the 13-year-old girl talks her neighbor Billy into providing her with a horse to find Agatha. She never expects him to trick her into riding on a mule and taking him with her. Unfortunately they stumble into a dangerous ring of counterfeiters. Can they solve Agatha’s mystery without causing another death?

Timberlake’s website includes her biography with links to her blog. Be sure to read her reflections on being selected as an honor author. A lesson plan containing discussion questions and a game board is available. Students can read The Prairie Traveler from the Gutenberg site on their devices. The Great Wisconsin Pigeon Nesting of 1871 was a well-documented event. Students can read about it and see historical images at Project Passenger Pigeon or the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Recognition includes: 2014 Newbery Honor; Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2013; Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2013, Fiction

PaperboyVAWTER, Vince. Paperboy. Delacorte. 2013. ISBN9780375990588. JLG Level:  C+ : Advanced Readers (Grades 6–9).

For a boy whose stuttering keeps him from talking to most people, taking over his best friend’s paper route is terrifying. How will he ask his customers for their weekly payments? With the loss of his knife and the chances he takes to get it back, Little Man has much to learn during the summer he becomes the paperboy.

In a post on Random Acts of Reading, the publisher’s blog, readers will find an interview in which they learn about the debut author’s inspiration. Vawter also reads an excerpt in a YouTube video. For more information about the impact and treatment of stuttering, check out The Stuttering Foundation. Discover how Michael J. Brennan feels that being a paperboy helped him become a CEO. You can also read about a 93-year-old man who still delivers the newspaper for the New York Times.

Recognition includes: 2014 Newbery Honor; Amazon.com Best Books of the Year 2013: Ages 9-12: Middle Graders

NOTE: Flora & Ulysses (Candlewick, 2013), winner of the 2014 Newbery Medalist, and Doll Bones (S & S, 2013), an honor selection, were recently featured with resources in this column. Check them out in the BTG LiveBinder.

Additional Resources

In an effort to organize these links, I have created a LiveBinder. All websites will be posted within the LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources will be added. Simply go to JLG Booktalks to Go where you will see LiveBinder blue tabs. Each blue tab is a book title. Under each blue tab are gray subtabs with links to media, websites, and other related documents. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Please visit JLG’s new LiveBinder, JLG Booktalks to Go.


For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.


Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)

Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

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