(Summer) School is in Session!

In the first in our new series, resident literacy expert Jaclyn DeForge shares her tips for educators on reading comprehension, the Common Core, and much more!  Prior to joining Lee & Low,  Jaclyn taught first and second grade in the South Bronx, worked in teacher support and development, and wrote English Language Arts curriculum as a literacy coach. 

July is *just* around the corner, and for many, it conjures images of fireworks, barbeques and lazy days at the beach.  But for many of our struggling students and dedicated educators, July means something very different: the start of summer school.

I’ve taught summer school several times over the years and keeping my students engaged and learning was sometimes a challenge, as little minds wandered and the gorgeous weather outside beckoned.  As summer school programs across the country kick into high gear, I’ve compiled a list of Sensational Summer School Read Alouds that really go the distance: 1) the topics have a high student-interest level 2) they can be used to hit multiple Common Core learning standards, and 3) they’re super rich in terms of content.

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William HoyToday’s pick: Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy 

By: Bill Wise

Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson

Genre: biography/narrative nonfiction

Hook: No sport captures the essence of summer more than baseball.         Baseball : Summer :: Football : Fall


Since Silent Star is a biography, it can be used to hit at many of the informational text standards…but since the biography is told in narrative form, it can be used to hit many of the literature standards as well!

A few ways to focus a Read Aloud:

  • Drawing inferences/character development: Did William Hoy shape the events and circumstances in his life, or did the events and circumstances shape William Hoy? (Grade 3 & 4, Key Ideas and Details, 1)
  • Compare/Contrast: Incorporate other biographies into Read Aloud or Guided Reading (ex: Bill Wise’s Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer); compare and contrast the lives and challenges faced by the central figures in the biographies (Grade 3, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, 9)
  • Author’s Craft/Descriptive Language: What words does the author use to describe the people in the story? Their emotions? The setting? What words does the author choose that help bring the story of William Hoy to life? (Grades 1&2, Craft and Structure, 4)


Social Studies:


Writing Prompts:

  • If you had been William Hoy, how would you have handled the situation he faced when children in his neighborhood would make fun of him? What about in the minor league, when the pitchers threw the ball while he was checking on the call with the umpire? Why?
  • Choose one word that best describes William Hoy. Give examples from the text that support your answer.
  • If you could give this book another title, what would it be? Why?

Stay tuned for more Sensational Summer School Read Alouds! For a complete list, or for information about building classroom libraries that meet the needs of your students, drop me an email at curriculum@leeandlow.com!

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