Hannah Wadsworth | Middle School Book Life

Featuring: No World Too Big

Published 11 months ago • 3 min read

If it looks like this week's newsletter is about a children's book, that's because it is. I believe that there is a place for picture books in all grade levels. Below, I share my best ideas about how your students can learn from this non-fiction title. I'm amped on this book as a teaching tool because I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the editors, Keila Dawson. She passionately shared how she sees this book as social activism, and I think it can be an activism tool in your classroom, too.

Title: No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change

Authors & Editors: Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley

Illustrated by: Jeanette Bradley

Genre: Children's nonfiction and poetry

Age range: 5+

Summary: This book tells the stories of young activists from around the world who are fighting climate change. Each profile includes poetry, biographical information, illustrations, and a call to action.

"With this book we wanted kids to understand that individual action is good. But when you grow that action to collective action, the impact is greater." -Keila Dawson

Here are a few ways I envision teaching with this book...

Elementary classrooms:

  • One day: For an Earth Day celebration or another special event tied to sustainability, read and talk about a few of the stories with your students. Use the provided tips as inspiration for a change your classroom or school can make.
  • One week: Jigsaw read. Place students in small groups and assign each student a different activist. Students study their assigned activist and then teach their group members about them. A simple graphic organizer that includes their name, where they live, what problem they saw, and how they set out to solve the problem will allow students to practice sorting and evaluating information. Then together, the group can identify one problem in their classroom/school and a solution to it.
  • One month: Read a different story every day as a whole class read aloud. Discuss how the bio and the poem share similar information in different ways. Co-create anchor charts about the characteristics of information writing and the characteristics of poetry. During writing time, students can write an informational bio and poem about themselves and how they are addressing climate change.

Secondary classrooms:

  • One day: Supplement a climate change or sustainability unit in science by reading the page associated with a topic. For example, read about Maanasa Mendu when learning about renewable energy sources.
  • One week: Teach a mini-unit on genres by comparing and contrasting the different pieces of each young activist's profile. How do the bios and poems complement each other? Why are they more powerful together than as stand-alone pieces of writing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each style? Pull back the curtain and help students see that an author's choice of genre is a decision about how to most effectively communicate their message.
  • One month: Use it as a mentor text and create a picture book about a different social justice issue that is relevant to your class community. Each student can research one activist and write a bio, poem, and call to action (and an illustration, if you wish). Use Book Creator to combine the profiles into a beautiful eBook that you can distribute to appropriate audiences.
"It’s finding what matters to you and using your own talents. And let’s face it—it’s funner if you do it together. It’s called social activism and social justice for a reason." -Keila Dawson

Literacy Love Notes:

  • Even when Pride Month "ends" on June 30, you can still display these QR code posters about writing and media by LGBTQ+ creators.
  • Don't let student "I don't knows" freeze a lesson any more. Try this response and see what happens.
  • Need a stand-alone lesson to fill one of the last days of school? Try my Story Elements Escape Room. One teacher nicely called it "highly engaging" (and immediately made me blush).

Have a good one and learn everything you can,


PS: Have you recommended any of the books from my newsletter to your students? If you have, will you reply and tell me about it?

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Hannah Wadsworth | Middle School Book Life

Welcome to the Middle School Book Life newsletter. Every other week, you'll receive a deep dive into one middle grade or young adult novel that belongs in your classroom library. Subscribe and I'll help you curate the best books for your students.

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