How WITS Selects SummerBooks

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We’ve been talking a lot about WITSummer Books lately. WITSummer Books is a campaign where we give five brand new books to each student in our programs. WITS staff creates these lists with WITS students’ interests, abilities, and backgrounds in mind. To ensure that students receive books that are close to their reading and interest level, we give different books to pre-kindergarten-first graders, second-third graders, fourth-fifth graders, and sixth-eighth graders. We included books with developmentally appropriate features, like repetition and rhyme for the younger students, and graphs and charts for the older students. For each list, we included a mix of fiction and nonfiction.

The nonfiction books in our WITSummer Books are largely informational texts about high-interest topics, like animals, dinosaurs, and space. In addition, our second-third graders are receiving a biography of Ruby Bridges, the first African American to integrate New Orleans schools, and our fourth-fifth graders are receiving a biography of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize and girls education advocate.

This year, along with diverse picture books and chapter books, we also included a graphic novel in each of the book lists for second graders and up. Graphic novels are a great tool to engage reluctant readers, while promoting visual literacy, critical thinking, and memory. Most importantly, we hope the students will enjoy all the books!

For more information, or for the full list of books, contact Ellen Werner at ellen@witschicago.org.

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Pages from nonfiction WITSummer Books. Left to right Welcome to the World, Zooborns! for PreK-first graders, Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs for second-third graders, Mars for fourth-fifth graders, and Record Breaking Animals for sixth-eighth graders.

by Ellen Werner, Program Director