When the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) came out, I studied them closely. (Hey, it’s all about close reading, right?) One thing stood out to me: in the CCSS, kids are never encouraged to read for pleasure.
That makes me sad. Reading is my favorite activity. Books are my friends. Within the pages of a book, I travel to far away places, become an adventurer, become a giant or an armadillo or a princess. Books—life without a book is sad.
And yet, I understand that the CCSS is about educating and teaching. I get it. Still, does it have to be a bitter pill all the time?
I thought back to the stories that I loved the best. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. As I read those stories, I learned vocabulary, how to deal with strangers, how to deal with evil, and so much more. Lessons don’t have to come as a bitter pill. Instead, they can be sugar-coated.
In a popular commercial for Life cereal, two boys discuss the cereal and decide that since it’s “good for you,” it must taste bad. Instead, they pass the cereal bowl to Mikey, who “hates everything.” Mikey LOVES the cereal.
“He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”
If you can’t see this video, click here.
As a writer, I aim to give kids a book they will read for pleasure. The Aliens, Inc. Series is written for kids to enjoy. In this easy chapter book series, Kell, Bree and the gang have great fun at birthday parties!
But I also try to make the book useful for teachers. Kell is constantly trying to figure out a problem by writing the W questions: who, what, where, when, why. Vocabulary is stretched but context provides a clue to word meaning. Each book focuses on a different subject matter, so kids are learning fact–and a song. Oh, and there’s an art project in each book. At the end, there’s a searching game that encourages kids to go back through the book and look for certain illustrations. Oh, there’s lots of learning in The Aliens, Inc. series. But most important for me, as the author, the books are fun.
Hey, Mikey! They like to read these books!
The Aliens, Inc. Series Teacher’s Guide
Yet, teachers will find lots to love here, too. In fact, the teacher’s guide for The Alien’s Inc. Series addresses all the CCSS standards that apply, especially for language arts lesson plans for 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 4th grade.