Thursday, March 14, 2013


In the past few years, almost every state in the nation has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The English Language Arts Standards are not limited to upper grades, either. Even the youngest kids—the K through 2 set—will be using the CCSS to explore nonfiction literature in their classrooms, libraries, and homes.

With that in mind, I thought I’d use this post to introduce two things: a new book and a new Teacher’s Guide just posted on my website, with ideas for how to apply the CCSS to all of my books.

Out this month is my newest book, The World Is Waiting For You. And while the main text only has 115 words, it can still be explored using the CCSS.

The ideas below are built around the Anchor Standards for Reading. (For grade-specific guidelines, click on “Reading: Informational Texts” in the sidebar on that page.)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2  Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6  Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

The central ideas of The World Is Waiting For You are the importance of getting outside to explore and the benefit of following your curiosity.

My purpose is to encourage kids to get outside, explore, and see where their curiosity takes them—and to suggest that if you follow your curiosity as you grow, it will enrich your entire life.

The book begins with an invitation to explore:

“Right outside your window there’s a world to explore. Ready? Follow that path around the next bend. Who knows where it might lead?”

This question works on both a literal and figurative level. The path itself leads to new places to explore and things to discover; and the act of following your curiosity leads to personal growth and a better understanding and appreciation of the world.

The text and photos then depict exploration on a child-scale, such as hopping into a pond or standing under a waterfall, followed by the same type of exploration on a future adult-scale: scuba diving with dolphins. Similarly, digging in a mud puddle might one day lead to digging for fossils, and star-gazing might one day lead to exploring space as an astronaut.

Throughout the book, kids see the value of exploring now and can imagine where the love of exploration might take them in the future. And the final spread in the book echoes the opening lines and urges them to get going:

 “The whole wide world is waiting for you… Ready. Set. Go.”
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

In the guidelines for grades K-2, this anchor standard asks students to identify text features and analyze how they provide key facts or information.

The extensive back matter of The World Is Waiting For You provides a wealth of information to enhance the main text.

The explorers depicted in photos in the main text get a fuller introduction in “The Faces of Exploration” section of the back matter. We learn their names, where each photo was taken, and specific facts about their work as explorers. This section also includes quotes from several of the explorers talking about the impact exploration has made on their lives.

In a “Note From National Geographic,” John M. Fahey, Jr., CEO and Chairman of the Board of the National Geographic Society, discusses the Society’s mission and commitment to exploration. He ends the note with words to encourage kids to explore on their own.

Thumbnails of the photographs identify where each was taken and photo credits list the names of individual photographers.

Finally, the back flap of the book jacket shares information about other books I’ve written and my personal experience with exploration.

Check out my Teacher's Guide for ideas on how to apply the CCSS to my other titles, including the biographies Those Rebels, John and Tom; The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy); What To Do About Alice?; Walt Whitman: Words for America; and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins.


Kathleen Krull said...

Kudos to you for providing this step-by-step guide to your new book!

Barbara Kerley said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Hope it's helpful to folks getting used to the CCSS!