The Common Core State Standards provide a framework for students to develop the ability to read and think critically and for teachers to measure student progress. The CCSS focus on what students need to learn; how is up to their teachers. Here, we suggest some CCSS-friendly answers to that vexing question.
The Books of Ezra Jack Keats
Keats’s books have long been used to teach visual and language literacy to grades K–4 and beyond. The stories can be easily understood by young readers and explored at increasing levels of complexity in higher grades.
Keats was instrumental in breaking the color barrier in children’s books, beginning with The Snowy Day, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963. Later books also featured a multicultural cast of characters facing childhood joys and dilemmas. Diversity is one of the books’ greatest assets, as children learning to navigate the world see characters who look like them, or who look quite different, embarked on the same journey.
Keats remains a classroom favorite because children relate so well to his characters and because the books offer various perspectives—social, emotional, moral—that teachers can choose to explore in class. They are fresh, relevant and effective in teaching children about such issues as:
- sibling rivalry
- peer pressure
- developmental issues
- resourcefulness and determination
- city life
See also our select lesson plans for a variety of ways to teach Keats.
The EJK Foundation’s educational programs help teachers and librarians inspire children’s love of reading and learning. When integrated into the curriculum, they are ready-made to advance the standards at almost all grade levels.
Take the EJK Bookmaking Competition (grades 3–12) and EJK Mini-Grants (grades pre-K–12), for example. Though different from each other in design and purpose, both programs:
- apply to multiple grade levels.
- develop required academic skills in a creative way that students love, and offer recognition and rewards to educators as well.
- are most successful when undertaken by whole classes.
- allow educators to collaborate across disciplines.
- inspire students to work hard toward a desired goal, applying necessary skills and knowledge to create a beautiful book or school project.
Project-based programs like these offer short- and long-term benefits:
- For teachers, a unified, adaptable way to meet the required yearly goals.
- For students, an enjoyable experience, a sense of achievement and a source of pride.