I'm a volunteer reader for a second-grade class in a nearby city, and our latest read was Keep Your Ear on the Ball, written by Genevieve Petrillo and illustrated by Lea Lyon (Tilbury House, 2007). The book is about a class (my group guessed third or fourth grade) who deal with a difficult situation: one of the classmates, a very independent boy who's blind, has a lot of trouble playing kickball. The children themselves figure out a solution that everyone is happy with.
The author had left me a note here on the blog, saying that she thought my young friends would enjoy the book. They did! Reading it led to a good discussion about blindness and sight impairment, and being kickball players themselves, the second graders could understand the dilemmas faced by Davey, the boy who's blind, and his pals. I especially appreciated the fact that Keep Your Ear on the Ball's multicultural class, as painted by Lea Lyon, looked a lot like mine. (Well, mine for a half hour each week.)
Next up are Not Norman: A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett, with art by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick, 2005), and a poem or two from Douglas Florian's Handsprings (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2006). The second-grade class is not big on poetry. I don't know exactly why. Sometimes poets pack in too many new (and incomprehensible) words, and I end up translating English into English. (B-o-r-i-n-g.) That's not the case with Handsprings. I'm thinking the kids will appreciate the joy expressed by Florian and the cool way the lines in the concrete poem "Rain Reign" are printed: vertically, like rain drops coming down.