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.

Promoting Peace with Poetry and Art

What is peace? The answer to this question is both individual and collective, and both simple and complex. In their inviting new picture book poem, Baptiste and Miranda Paul explore the concept of peace, moving readers from concrete to abstract. The rhyming text and warmly whimsical illustrations invite readers young and old to consider the roles they can play in creating peace and the benefits that all can enjoy.

Drawing Inspiration from The Wisdom of Trees

Whether or not you already identify as a tree lover, reading Lita Judge’s multigenre picture book, The Wisdom of Trees, will lead you to view earth’s amazing forests in multifaceted new ways. Judge deepens readers’ understanding of and respect for the interconnectedness of trees by presenting current research on tree communication, framing forests as communities through poetry, expository passages and extensive back matter.

Studying Science with Secrets of the Sea: The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist

The year is 1818 and a young woman named Jeanne wanders the shores of Sicily. Formerly a seamstress, she reinvents herself as a scientist, a naturalist who explores the island on foot, journal in hand. Jeanne Villepreux-Power and her accomplishments is the subject of a fascinating new picture book biography collaboration by Evan Griffin and Joanie Stone. Use it to teach the disciplinary literacies of science, pair it with other stories of women “revolutionaries,” or as part of a historical study of scientific discovery and oceanography.

Romp and Revel with We All Play / kimêtawânaw

“Animals play. And we play too: kimêtawânaw mîna.” This special similarity between humans and the world of animal species is the focus of Cree-Métis author and illustrator Julie Flett’s latest picturebook. Incorporating a patterned text and playful alliteration, Flett introduces the movements of several animal species and then, through illustration, draws parallels to human play.

Text Sets in Action: Instructional Models for Text Sets in The Classroom Bookshelf

This week, we’re announcing the publication of Mary Ann and Erika’s book, Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that text sets are a primary tool that we recommend in a literature-based curriculum. In this blog entry, we revisit some examples of text sets in action in previous blog entries, showcasing the potential of the instructional models to differentiate and deepen students’ learning and as a vehicle to explore multiple perspectives and develop critical literacies.

Connecting the Past and Present through Poetry: Teaching Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance

Children’s Literature Legacy Award Winner Nikki Grimes builds powerful connections between the past and present in her anthology featuring women poets of the Harlem Renaissance and her accompanying innovations on these poems. Use the poem pairings of this thought-provoking book across the school year to highlight the voices and experiences of Black women and girls or dive into the collection as a whole; either approach yields important insights into the human experience and forefronts the boundaries imposed by racism and sexism.

Remembering and Healing with Before the Ever After

As his mother and father visit doctor after doctor and try meds after meds, ZJ aches for the time ‘before’ his father’s illness, a time filled with picnics, pick up games, and spontaneous dance parties in the living room. ZJ’s father is a pro football player who is experiencing headaches, mood swings and memory loss. Jacqueline Woodson’s latest novel in verse explores the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on tight end Zachariah ‘44’ Johnson, through the eyes of his twelve year old son, his namesake.

Honor your students’ voices with the poetry collection No Voice Too Small.

During turbulent times, many of us may find ourselves asking, “What can I do?” The young people featured in this powerful anthology asked this question of themselves, found answers, and took action. Editors Metcalf, Dawson & Bradley have curated a collection of poems, written by accomplished poets, that represent the commitments, the activism and the accomplishments of fourteen tweens and teens.

Building Big Dreams with Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon

In a stunning picture book biography, author Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrator Laura Freeman celebrate the life and work of Philip Freelon, Architect of Record for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This not-to-be missed title has broad possibilities for exploring art and design; featuring diverse life stories; and inviting students to consider how they might use their own talents to be dream builders.

Giving Thanks to Our Community

This week, we wish for all of you: safety, health, connection, and comfort.
We are deeply grateful for all the work you do each and every day to put wonderful books in the hands, minds, and hearts of young people.