Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Sunday, August 18, 2013

View From the 5th Grade Trenches: August 2013 - The Scieszka Zone


You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, 

The Scieszka Zone

Where else can a math cursed kid put two halves together and escape through a hole in the wall?

Where else can the Big Bad Wolf plead his case?

Where else can a cowboy crack up about a head of lettuce?


Where else can Chicken Licken seek an audience with Obama?





Nothing tops a roomful of giggling kids. That is why I start every school year sharing the witty and hilarious words of Jon Scieszka with my class. The crazy-perfect illustrations of Lane Smith enhance the laughter even more. Their stories are every bit as guffaw-inducing for adults as they are for the kids.

Mr. Scieszka has my undying admiration for his literacy program and website called GUYS READ. Here's the mission statement:

Welcome to Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys founded by author and First National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka. Our mission is to help boys become self-motivated, lifelong readers.

The GUYS READ website is a wealth of information and resources to get our boys reading. Through it I discovered middle grade gold such as the Time Warp Trio,


Guys Read Anthologies,














and the Spaceheadz online interactive series 


that have transformed some of my most reluctant male (and female) readers into potential bookworms.









Jon Scieszka has clocked time as a teacher in the elementary school trenches and he proves over and over his special magic for communicating with kids. As a teacher I appreciate everything Scieszka for the teachable moments the works provide above and beyond engaging kids with their perfectly pitched humor.

MATH CURSE – Introduces the Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34 (Have you cracked the code?) as well as empathizing with students about the mind boggling math concepts they have to conquer each new school year.

THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS – Is an approachable and entertaining example of teaching voice and point of view.

COWBOY AND OCTOPUS – Is Diversity 101. The relationship and tolerance between these two unlikely amigos exemplifies the joy of putting differences aside and being friends with someone unexpected.

THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES – Besides the perk of getting to say “stupid” for the guaranteed laugh, these quick spins on traditional tales are ripe for teaching the elements of a story.

Thank you Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith for all the lesson plan blanks you’ve filled in for me, and above all else, for making kids crave books.

SCBWI-LA 2013 Conference - Scieszka and Rose

What could be cooler than meeting one of your heroes in person and seeing they are as amazing as you always dreamed they'd be?

Answer: Nothing.


Look for the signpost up ahead – your next stop, 
The Scieszka Zone

*The Twilight Zone introduction is written by Rod Serling.

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. T - I know your sense of humor is very Scieszka-esque.

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  2. LOVE Scieszka too! I fell in love with his work when I stumbled upon the True Story a few years ago. Brilliant man!

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  3. So cool! Love the shot of you two :)

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    1. I'm usually super shy to ask for pictures, but I went crazy at this year's SCBWI-LA.

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  4. Your kids are so lucky to have you! You make me want to go back to the 5th grade!

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    1. My door is always open, Lee. I'll make you read your books to the kids. I'm close to setting up Skype this year.

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  5. Awesome post, sweetie. He's every bit as cool in person, eh? :)

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    1. Thanks, Stacey. I wish he was the teacher in the room next door to me.

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  6. LOVE the photo of the two of you! His books sound so fun.

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    1. You can't be drinking liquids when you read a Scieszka story because you will just snort laugh it right out of your nose.

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  7. We LOVED the Time Warp Trio books. So funny! What a great idea to read them with your class. I found out last month a friend of mine will be in the Guys Read Non-fiction book. Can't wait!

    -Vicki

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    1. That it SO COOL. I can't wait to get my hands on the next GUYS READ.

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  8. This sounds like every school needs to expose their kids to the magic of the "Scieszka Zone..."
    Gosh, I wish I were a 5th grader... it sounds so exciting!
    Writer In Transit

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  9. I have a reluctant reader daughter so I am always on to these book recommendations like a fly on stinky cheese. I haven't heard of these books before but I am so going to the library right away to get them.

    Probably totally unrelated because these picture books have NO WORDS but my girls and I have fallen in love with Caldecott winning Weisner books this summer (Tuesday, Flotsam, etc). The girls can make up their own words... these books are amazing! My 12 year down to my 6 year old twins adore them. Just had to pass them on to another book lover.

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  10. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs was great. Such a wonderful book!

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  11. I love The True Story of the Three Little Pigs- but haven't read the others. I will be looking for them this week. Awesome! So excited for you that you got to meet him. :)
    ~Stephanie

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  12. I just noticed you pointed out The Time Warp Trio- I have one of the books in the series- but haven't read it. I will have to check it out.

    It was SO hot two days at work today (over 100 in my classroom both day and over 70% humidity). It reminded me that you and your 5th graders were hot too. Hope we will all be a lot cooler this coming week so our brains can think easier. :)

    ~Stephanie

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  13. Look at you!! I think I never saw that pic!! Sorry I've been so quiet lately!! I've barely been in the blogosphere after hubby's surgery. Lovely post, hun. I know how much you enjoyed his books and having him sign them. <3

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