The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf
Erika Thulin Dawes

About Erika Thulin Dawes

Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.

Coronavirus Support: Teaching Resources for K-8 Online Learning

What a challenging and confusing time this is. All of us are juggling the demands of taking care of our families, our students, and ourselves. We’re worried about what’s happening hour-to-hour while trying to remain positive and optimistic when we’re with the young people within our care. Rather than create a traditional entry for this week, we decided to curate some of the amazing resources that schools, libraries, companies, and organizations have been making available during this time of crisis.

2020 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction: Room on Our Rock

“There are two sides to every story.” This well known phrase appears on the cover of Australian authors Kate & Jol Temple’s unusual picture book along with the image of two seals, presumably a child and caregiver duo. An initial read of this book prompts expressions of concern for this pair as they travel away from their storm ravaged home only to be met with the words, “There’s no room on our rock,” when they seek shelter. The text is reverse poetry and read from back to front, it offers an entirely different reading experience.

Welcome Winter with Wait, Rest, Pause

How do animals and plants survive weather extremes like cold, heat, and drought? The concept of dormancy and variations of this biological process, which include diapause, hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation, are the subject of an engaging work of expository nonfiction by Marcie Flinchum Atkins. Employing a patterned text, figurative language, and series of lively verbs, Flinchum compares and contrasts different forms of dormancy in mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and even in plants.

Poetry as History in The Undefeated

The Undefeated, a new picture book created by acclaimed author Kwame Alexander and award-winning illustrator Kadir Nelson has been described as “a love letter to America. To black America” (book jacket). The text is a poem that traverses the history of the United States, tracing the trauma and the triumphs of Black / African American experiences from enslavement to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter.

Ponder Perspectives and the Passage of Time with Brenden Wenzel’s A Stone Sat Still

Caldecott Honor winner Brendan Wenzel’s new picture book, like his previous two (They All Saw a Cat and Hello Hello), invites readers to slow down and to ponder the world from new angles. Using mixed media illustrations and lyrical text, Wenzel explores the roles of a stone at the edge of a sea, across seasons, and over decades.

Beginning the Year with Because of the Rabbit

Because of the Rabbit Written by Cynthia Lord Published in 2019 by Scholastic ISBN 978-0-545-91424-6 Grades 3 – 6 Book Review It’s the start of the school year and Emma is facing more changes than the average rising fifth grader. Emma, her parents, and her older brother Owen live in northern Maine, where Emma’s father […]

Looking Back and Looking Ahead to Make the Classroom Bookshelf Even Better

In August, sharpened pencils stand tall in cups and caddies. Crisp, marble notebooks are stacked in neat piles. Bulletin boards, carefully crafted with die cut letters, greet students. And books, intentionally selected, line library and classroom bookshelves. Everything feels possible. At The Classroom Bookshelf, we believe that literacy itself is about possibility. With this in […]

Spark Summer Friendships with How to Two

A warm day, a welcoming playground, and a bright smile – the quintessential ingredients for childhood play and budding friendships. David’s Soman’s innovative new picture book is not only a joyous counting romp, it is also a wonderful invitation to discuss how to make a friend, how to be inclusive in play, and how to build community.

Celebrate Family, Community and the Thrill of the Ride with My Papi Has a Motorcycle

“We become a spectacular celestial thing soaring on asphalt. A comet.” With rich sensory language and colorful comic style-illustration, award-winning author illustrator team Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena celebrate Latinx culture, family, community and the thrill of a motorcycle ride in their latest picture book collaboration.

Learn and Grow with Seeds Move! by Robin Page

Seed dispersal is the topic of collage artist Robin Page’s latest nonfiction picture book. Versatile for use throughout the seasons, this teaching tool plants the seeds for important classroom conversations about nature, interdependence, and the importance of conservation.