4-6 grades

Teacher Guide: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain, a talented young silversmith, must learn humility when an injury to his hand forces him to leave his apprenticeship; in his new job delivering messages for the Boston Revolutionaries, he begins to learn that some things are more important than success. 

Teacher Guide: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

An all-time classic fantasy tale for young readers, Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three won a Newbery Honor medal in 1964. It is the first in a five-book series that concludes with The High King. The Book of Three tells the story of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper at Caer Dallben in the mythical land of Prydain, who longs for adventure and heroic glory. He has been born at the right time, for Prydain is beset by the evil lord Arawn and his champion, the wicked Horned King. Leaving home in pursuit of his runaway pic, Taran falls in with a colorful band of companions and eventually has the chance to be the hero he has always dreamed of. Will he take it?  What does it mean to be a hero, anyway? We highly recommend this story for boys who may be reluctant readers. Fast-paced and funny, it is filled with swords, knights, and evil sorcerers, along with a host of admirable themes. The Book of Three is just the right story to ignite a love of reading in even the most reluctant young Pig Keeper. 

Teacher Guide: The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

[Originally published in Ready Readers: Elementary Literature, Vol. 1]

This classic tale of friendship and loyalty was a Newbery Honor book in 1970, and has been delighting children ever since.  Follow the adventures of Chester Cricket as he finds a home away from home in the Times Square subway station, and grows to learn the true meaning of friendship, and of freedom. Appropriate for fourth and fifth graders, as well as older students who need practice with the basics of plot, conflict and theme.

Teacher Guide: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

[Originally published in Ready Readers: Elementary Literature, Vol. 1]

Marguerite Henry's beloved classic was a Newbery Honor book in 1948. Full of warmth and humor, Misty of Chincoteague tells the story of Paul and Maureen Beebe and their quest to capture and own a wild pony - the mysterious Phantom. In order to achieve their goal, Paul and Maureen must learn to persevere against a variety of circumstantial and emotional obstacles -- and they learn important truths about love, ownership, freedom and responsibility along the way.

Teacher Guide: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

[Originally published in Ready Readers: Elementary Literature, Vol. 1]

When Louis, the mute swan, receives a stolen trumpet from his father, he uses it to communicate with the other swans. The ignominy of the theft haunts his conscience, however, and Louis determines to repay the music store owner in live performances. E.B. White's whimsical tale of remuneration and personal responsibility continues to delight elementary readers as it has since its publication in 1970.

Teacher Guide: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

When Daddy takes the four Penderwick sisters -- Rosalind, Jane, Skye, and Betty -- on a summer vacation to Arundel estate in western Massachusetts, no one expects a life-changing experience. But when the girls meet the owner, Mrs. Tifton, and her son Jeffrey, that's exactly what they get. The first installment in Jeanne Birdsall's captivating Penderwicks series, this story is destined to become a classic. Birdsall's witty, warm, welcoming prose and her gift for portraying family relationships make this story an excellent read-aloud selection, as well as a great choice for classroom discussions of plot and character.

Teacher Guide: The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Our guide takes you step by step through Beverly Cleary's classic tale of Ralph, an adventurous young mouse who lives with his family in a battered old hotel in the Sierra Nevada. He longs for a life of speed and excitement, and gets his chance when his new friend Keith shows him how to make a toy motorcycle go. Ralph quickly becomes a speed demon, but his reckless selfishness soon threatens not only his safety, but also his friendship with Keith. When the boy grows seriously ill, Ralph has the chance to save him. Will the young mouse learn to take a risk for the sake of someone besides himself? 

Teacher Guide: Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt

Drawing on the timeless fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin, in which a peasant girl becomes queen with the help of a strange little man who helps her to spin straw into gold at the cost of her first born child, this story provides the motivation behind the little man’s seemingly capricious bargain with the queen. Picking up the story years later when the babe has surely grown to adolescence, the tale begins again with the little man, known as Da, taking his boy, Tousle, to a parade in which captives from a rebel village are led by the victors through the town streets to receive their sentence before their king. The events that occur on this day lead Tousle on a quest to discover the answer to a new riddle upon which the lives of many will depend: “What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?” 

Teacher Guide: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska d'Orczy

As the Reign of Terror threatens the safety of every nobly-born citizen in France, only one man dares to snatch the doomed from the jaws of the guillotine: an enigmatic Englishman who calls himself “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” As a wrathful French revolutionary, Chauvelin, scours England in search of the trickster, he blackmails Lady Blakeney, queen of fashionable society in England, into helping him to capture this brave leader. 

Teacher Guide: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Elusive Mr. Willy Wonka, the fabulously wealthy, candy making genius whom nobody has seen in years, has decided to choose five children to tour his secret candy factory.  This coveted privilege will go to those who find golden tickets in their Wonka Bars. Will underdog Charlie Bucket, the poor boy who lives with his family in a one room shack, be a winner?