Every year I try to come up with a list of books I can read to my middle school Design and Engineering students to motivate them to think outside the box, problem solve and come to an understanding of what it means to be an “Engineer,” a student, or otherwise just plain nice person.
Generally I come up with some ideas from my elementary colleagues, who seem to know all of the best books ever. At first I was somewhat reluctant to read “little kids” books to my 7th and 8th graders, I didn’t want them to think I was treating them like little kids. As I looked through the books though, the illustrations were often spectacular, the morals of the story direct and to the point. Initially I thought to myself, why not, this will only take five minutes out of the day, and quite frankly, the books were fun for me. Come to find out, they were fun for my DE students too. I can’t believe the number of students that in their end of the year evaluations said, “One of my favorite parts of the week was when you would read to us. I didn’t have parents that did that, and it really is kind of fun to hear stories in different voices. Now when I read a story, I hear different voices in my head and that makes reading a lot more fun.” My only regret is more are not available on Kindle. It would make life so much easier.
I am always on the lookout for great, well written motivating books and am welcome to suggestions. So, for this year I am going to add:
“What Do You Do With an Idea?” Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom. “A story of a brilliant idea and the child who helps bring it into the world.” http://smile.amazon.com/What-Do-You-With-Idea/dp/1938298071/ref=pd_sim_14_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0SXJBTES8CMN6VBTFJYX
“The Most Magnificent Thing,” Ashley Spires. http://smile.amazon.com/Most-Magnificent-Thing-Ashley-Spires/dp/1554537045/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_y An unnamed girl comes up with an idea, knows how it should work, but when she begins to build it, she fails repeatedly.
“The Day the Crayons Quit,” Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. http://smile.amazon.com/The-Crayons-Quit-Drew-Daywalt/dp/0399255370/ref=pd_sim_14_14?ie=UTF8&refRID=1SH5XEBK94MHSX4K766J All of the crayons in Duncan’s box of crayons quit. Each color has a personality and share their concerns, appreciation and frustration, Duncan comes up with a plan to bring the crayons back together in a spirit of cooperation. We all have our talents and gifts, some are used more often than others. A sequel is coming out August 18, 2015, “The Day the Crayons Came Home.”
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” Dr. Seuss. http://smile.amazon.com/Oh-Places-Youll-Dr-Seuss/dp/0679805273/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437089957&sr=1-1&keywords=oh+the+places+you%27ll+go+by+dr.+seuss The perfect sendoff book as students leave for the year and move on to the next level of life.
“Agatha’s Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story,” Carmen Agra Deedy and Laura L. Seeley. http://smile.amazon.com/Agathas-Feather-Bed-Another-Goose/dp/1561450960/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437090191&sr=1-1&keywords=agatha%27s+feather+bed Beautifully illustrated story about giving back when you’ve taken something that wasn’t yours.
“Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women,” Catherine Thimmesh and Melissa Sweet. http://smile.amazon.com/Girls-Think-Everything-Ingenious-Inventions/dp/0618195637/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1437090804&sr=1-7&keywords=inventors This is a collection of bibliographies of women and their inventions. These are easy to read, short basic biographies I have students build on. I randomly give them the name of the inventor, invention and the short biography. They then take the information, do more research and present to the class using a digital tool of their choice. I use this to teach not only research skills, but citation and integration of technology.
“Mistakes That Worked,” Charlotte Jones and John Obrien. http://smile.amazon.com/Mistakes-That-Worked-Charlotte-Jones/dp/0385320434/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0FGZZ0SNXFNQAKQ5XAHR Forty familiar inventions and how they came to be. I use this book along with “Girls Think of Everything…” to provide more options for students.
“Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change: Courageous Actions Around the World,” Garth Sundem, http://smile.amazon.com/Real-Kids-Stories-Change-Courageous/dp/1575423502/ref=pd_sim_14_9?ie=UTF8&refRID=16P4MYHBXDB33GQ5E2B7 Thirty true stories that profile “ordinary kids doing extraordinary things around the world.” An inspirational book that causes us to ask the question, “What kind of hero lives inside of me?”
“Going Places,” Paul A. Reynolds and Peter H. Reynolds/ http://smile.amazon.com/Going-Places-Paul-A-Reynolds/dp/1442466081/ref=pd_sim_14_19?ie=UTF8&refRID=0HB2G6MD7KN0KH2B5KKM Every student receives an identical kit from which to build their go cart for the Going Places contest. Maya and Rafael decide to build theirs in their own way and not foll