Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story

“Nature study cultivates in the child a love of the beautiful.”

From the time she was a young girl, Anna Comstock was fascinated by the natural world. She loved exploring outdoors, examining wildlife and learning nature’s secrets. From watching the teamwork of marching ants to following the constellations in the sky, Anna observed it all. And her interest only increased as she grew older and went to college at Cornell University. There she continued her studies, pushing back against those social conventions that implied science was a man’s pursuit. Eventually Anna became known as a nature expert, pioneering a movement to encourage schools to conduct science and nature classes for children outdoors, thereby increasing students’ interest in nature. In following her passion, this remarkable woman blazed a trail for female scientists today.

Innovation, Leadership, and Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 3.9

AR Point .5

Word Count 689

Thankful

The gardener’s thankful for every green sprout.

The fireman, for putting the fire out.

The artist is thankful for color and light.

The clown for her costume silly and bright.

Thankful, written by beloved children’s author Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Archie Preston, combines charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the firefighter, for putting the fire out, children are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. Spinelli exhibits her endearing gift for storytelling with this engaging poem, reminding children how blessed and special they are. Meant to be read aloud, this heartwarming board book will be a treasured keepsake for parents and children alike.

Gratefulness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 2.1

AR Point .5

Word Count 160

Penny and Her Marble

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Penny found a marble as blue and perfect as the sky. The marble is smooth and the marble is fast, but the marble does not belong to her. It belongs to her neighbor, Mrs. Goodwin. Now Penny is worried she’s taken something important, but a chance encounter with Mrs. Goodwin puts all her fears to rest.

Trustworthiness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 2.5

AR Point .5

Word Count 876

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire

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Mary Blair lived her life in color: vivid, wild color.

From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary’s ideas were considered too abstract and too colorful. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted twinkling emerald skies, peach giraffes with tangerine spots, and magenta horses that could fly.

She painted her world.

Creativity, Innovation, Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.3

AR Point .5

Word Count 808

My Rows and Piles of Coins

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The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle–and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn’t saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale that captures the warmth of Saruni’s family and the excitement of market day.

 

Initiative, Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Effort, Empathy, Patience, Responsibility, Self Control, Gratefulness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 3.8

AR Point .5

Word Count 1256

One Bright Ring

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A girl sees a man drop the ring he means to use to propose to his girlfriend. The little girl tries to give it back to him, but things keep getting in her way! Follow this brave girl and count the obstacles she overcomes in her adventure to return the ring to its owner. She catches up to him just as he realizes he doesn’t have the ring anymore . . . so she drops it in just the right place for him to find it.

 

Initiative, Kindness, Perseverance, Trustworthiness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 2.0

AR Point .5

Word Count 232

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

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Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Innovation, Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.6

AR Point .5

Word Count 1297

Boxes for Katje

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After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom “thick and bright,” Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje’s street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.

This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author’s mother’s childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference.

Empathy, Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 3.5

AR Point .5

Word Count 1585

Leah’s Pony

Leah’s pony was swift and strong. Together they would cross through cornfields and over pastures, chasing cattle as they galloped under summer skies. Then came the year the corn grew no taller than a man’s thumb. Locusts blackened the sky. The earth turned to dust. Gone were the cornfields and pastures where Leah and her pony once rode. It was the beginning of the great drought. Now Leah’s papa faced losing the family farm. Set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, this deeply felt story, vividly portrayed through stunning oil paintings, tells of one child and what she would sacrifice for love of her family.

Courage, Critical Thinking-Problem Solving, Empathy, and Kindness

Fiction

AR Reading Level 3.3

AR Point .5

Word Count 1333

Snowflake Bentley

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From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.

Innovation, Leadership, Optimism, Patience, and Perseverance

Nonfiction

AR Reading Level 4.4

AR Point .5

Word Count 979