Locomotion tells the story of orphaned Lonnie in poetic form.  After Lonnie’s parents were killed in a fire, he was separated from his sister and put in foster care.  Lonnie struggles with feelings of loneliness and sadness as he reflects on the past and faces the future.  He writes them in a poetry notebook as part of a school assignment, experimenting with different forms and finding an outlet for his pain.

Locomotion is for students in grades 4-6.  I like Locomotion because it exposes students to so many forms of poetry, as well as showing them how poetry can tell a story and express a number of feelings.  Students could read the poems in small group and even try to write some of their own.

Woodson, J.  (2010).  Locomotion.  New York: Speak.





Madeline is the story of a French orphan living in Paris with eleven other orphans and a nun named Miss Clavel.  Readers hear about the daily life of the girls as they visit iconic French attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  The fearless Madeline is not afraid of tigers in the zoo and bravely faces an appendectomy.

Young readers in kindergarten and first grade will love the stories of Madeline in the original book and its many sequels.  The rhymes of the story’s poetry make the book even more memorable, along with the author’s beautiful paintings.  This makes Madeline an excellent read-aloud choice, plus it is a book students will revisit on their own during self-selected reading time.  I would add a virtual field trip to Paris to show students what Madeline and her friend visited on their daily walks.

Behelmans, L.  (1940).  Madeline.  New York: Viking Juvenile.