The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 1 - Page 47

"It (also) benefits students to see and hear the teacher highlighting important data, skimming sections of the text, making connections to past experiences, and taking the time to pause and think about what is being read."


This book is a powerful story that depicts the struggles Vietnamese refugees faced. The author of the book was a refugee who fled Vietnam during the war. Just like Há, the author faced emotional and physical challenges when she fled from her hometown. The author’s purpose of this story is to make readers aware of the trials the Vietnamese civilians faced and the bravery and endurance it took to overcome them.

Inside Out & Back Again is an amazing book about courage, strength, and bravery and I would suggest it to anyone!

Kaitlin Joy Kroese is a Pre-K teacher in Nixa, MO. She graduated from College of the Ozarks and iscurrently working on a masters degree in Literacy from Missouri State University.

A Letter to My Teacher

● Author: Deborah Hopkinson

● Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter

● Grade Level: Pre-K - 3rd

● Independent Reading Level: 2nd - 3rd grades

● Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

● Genre: Fiction/Realistic Fiction

“Dear Teacher -- Whenever I had something to tell you, I tugged on your shirt and whispered in your ear. This time I’m writing a letter.”

In A Letter to My Teacher, a woman writes a letter to her former second teacher in a series of memorable flashbacks. In this first person narrative, readers are able to experience the most unforgettable moments of her second grade year.

The letter begins on her first day of second grade, as she bounded through the rain in her yellow raincoat, already dreading the long days of sitting in a classroom. Instead of scolding her for traipsing in puddles of muddy water, her teacher greeted her with a smile and commented that she reminded her of an explorer named Mary Kingsley coming back from a canoe trip. This sparked her interest and was the start of their special relationship.

The narrator was an energetic and somewhat impulsive child, which put her in a few predicaments, including one with their class pets, the Mouse Brothers. She tested her teacher’s patience on a daily basis, and was considered, what you might call, “exasperating.” Fortunately, her teacher directed that energy into growing their Second-Grade Garden and becoming a more confident reader. The story concludes by showing the lasting influence teachers have on their students.

The author, Deborah Hopkinson, loved her second grade teacher and though she was not an “exasperating” child, she did hide books on her lap to read during class. The illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, did a brilliant a job of bringing the story to life with vibrant colors, highlighting the child and her teacher throughout the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Letter to My Teacher, as well as the beautiful illustrations. As a future teacher, this book reminds me of why I chose this career and the important role we play in children’s lives. This book would be a great gift for a teacher and it would also make a wonderful read aloud. This book could be used to discuss the impact our words and actions have on each other or it could be used to discuss careers and how people can change the world around them. I would highly recommend this book to every teacher, but be prepared to have tissues handy as this book will tug at your heartstrings!

Justina Homan is a literacy graduate student at Missouri State University and is from Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

Wonder: New

● Author: R.J. Palacio

● Publisher: Random House: New York, 2012

● Lexile level: 790

● Appropriate Ages: 8-12

● AR level 4.8

● Genre: Fiction

My fourth grade class just finished reading the book Wonder during our read aloud time. I had read this story to my class last year as well and we all loved it so much that I wanted to share it with my current class. The timing was also perfect with the movie that was released on November 17th (2017) that is based on the book. It is a fictional story written by R.J. Palacio but was very much inspired by a child that she encountered that seemed much like the main character in her story, August Pullman.

Wonder is a highly engaging book that is appropriate for grades three and up. It is at a lexile of 790 and has an AR reading level of 4.8. I love books that hook us from the beginning and keep our attention throughout, and ones that have a theme that is applicable to my students. Books that make us laugh and help us have good class discussions is another important element. I am usually very stingy with giving stars, but as far as a read aloud goes, this book meets my requirements so I gladly give it five stars.

The theme of this story is two fold as R.J. Palacio does a fabulous job of portraying her characters and writing the chapters based on their points of view. This is a story of bravery, embracing our inner beauty, and accepting the differences in others. August (nicknamed Auggie), the main character, was born with a facial deformity and has been home schooled his whole life up until his fifth grade year when he begins to attend Beecher Prep. As you can imagine, this transition is not easy considering his peers at his new school are alarmed by his deformity. The story of Auggie, his family and friends, and his life at school will make you and your students laugh, cry, and connect with your own inner self.

You may find resources to support teaching with Wonder at .

Taylor Bacon is a fourth grade teacher in Nixa, Missouri. She is currently completing her graduate degree with a Masters in Teacher Leadership at Missouri State University.