Sunday, June 23, 2013

Must Read Mentor Texts for Social Studies: You Wouldn't Want to Be...Series

I really thought I was going to finish some products this weekend for my store and classroom.  Instead, I was up late Friday night doing Statistics homework.  Saturday morning I did bootcamp and holy yoga.  The rest of the weekend was filled with cleaning, organizing, purging, donating to Goodwill, moving furniture around, laundry, grocery shopping, church, and getting ready for the week.

It's Sunday, so it is time for Collaboration Cuties' Must Read Mentor Text linky.
Collaboration Cuties

This week's topic is Social Studies. Can we say love?  I am starting my PhD in Educational Psychology with emphasis in Gifted and Talented Education. (That is why I am taking Statistics this summer).  My career goal is to create Social Studies/History curriculum for Elementary kids.  I feel like History is so important, and we need more resources that make it come alive and feel relevant and tangible for Elementary kids.  A great text is a fabulous way to help kids relate to a historical figure or time period.  Historical Fiction always has and always will be my favorite genre.  I discovered my love of reading when my grandmother introduced me to Ann Rinaldi.  She is still one of my favorite authors.  Her books are probably more Middle School reading level, so I always try to encourage my higher level fifth-grade readers to explore her books. I remember reading In My Father's House in 6th grade.

It is about the McLean family.  The Civil War started right in front of their house.  They moved to Appomattox to escape the war.  Then Lee used their library to sign the surrender.  I remember visiting Appomattox the summer after 6th grade with my grandparents.  I was so excited when we saw the McLeans' house in Appomattox.  I told my grandmother when we got to the library there was going to be a doll left on the sofa.  My grandmother thought I was silly, but sure enough there it was.  Will McLean's little girl leaves her doll in his study and it is taken over to sign the surrender and end the civil war. She is upset because she wants her doll, not understanding the importance of what is happening behind closed doors. I love historical fiction because often kids can relate to history so much more when they can relate to the age or gender of the characters.  It is such an easy way to learn history and absorb interesting details.

I often have done a round of book clubs with Historical Fiction in my classroom or had my students choose from a list of books when we are studying a period of time. I am teaching US History again this year, so I am excited to use more picture book mentor texts.  This year we studied the US Regions and Westward Expansion.  I am excited to actually cover most of the major events in US History again. 

This year was my first year to use Common Core.  I live in Texas, so I had previously followed the TEKS.  The private school I am at now follows Common Core. With the emphasis on nonfiction in Common Core I used a lot more nonfiction this year in Science and Social Studies for mentor texts.  Engaging nonfiction is hard to find that reads well aloud, so I love finding great nonfiction mentor texts. My "go-to" Social Studies source for mentor texts is the "You Wouldn't Want to Be" series.  Students always love them!  I would like to read this one to use this year: You Woudn't Want to be a Civil War Soldier. 

The series always presents the worst part of a time period - the hardships and disgusting details.  It always helps to paint a picture though about the hardships of a place and time, and the kids eat it up.  If you scroll through the other related books at the bottom of the Amazon page, you can see a bunch of the other books in the series. There are tons of books in the series for American History and World History. Usually after I read one aloud, it gets read and reread during independent reading. What is your favorite Social Studies nonfiction mentor text?


  1. I am soooo your newest follower! I struggle with teaching history!
    I do love the "You Wouldn't Want to Be" series. One of my students last year is a major history fanatic! He always shared that series with me!
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun

  2. The "You Wouldn't Want to Be" series has the highest circulation among non-fiction books in my library! The kids love them. A few years ago I read one to one of the upper grade classes and they've been hooked since. They're always wanting to know when the next one is going to be published.

  3. This is my first year using the You Wouldn't Want to Be series (found them through this linky!). You are right they become very popular among my students after I introduce them.

  4. Wow, what a neat story! I don't know the author Rinaldi. Her books sound wonderful though! I love that your grandmother introduced her to you!

    (That's awesome you are getting your PhD! Oh my! All that work!!)

    I love the You Wouldn't Want to Be series. More importantly, the kids love it and it's nonfiction! It's totally gross, which is why they love it!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties


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