On Mondays, Jen Vincent and Kellee Moye host What Are You Reading? on their blog, teachmentortext.com. If you are ever in need of a book recommendation, this is a guaranteed place to find some!
Over the course of the week, I have been reading samples of books from National Geographic that I picked up at the New England Convention for Social Studies. Because we are working on units that have to do with world geography, I zeroed in on the Global Issues Series. I can not recommend these books highly enough. There are twelve topics in the series, a total of 36 books since each topic has books written at three different reading levels. Some of the topics are globalization, food supply, energy resources, health, human rights, and several more. In addition to the Global Issues Series, they have also created products for many periods of American History that are well worth exploring, as the books are closely aligned with CCSS, they are engaging, and they have companion teacher texts.
The publishers have created parallel texts at three different grade levels. I have read them several times and the differences are subtle, but significant for the purposes of differentiation. Aside from the text, the books have open-ended comprehension questions and, in addition to the core knowledge, two case studies that are different in the grade level texts. For example, the fifth grade level of Water Resources focuses on different geographical areas that the 6/7 level text and the Level 8 text. I can envision study groups presenting topics as classroom experts. I strongly believe in challenging students to become activists and each book contains a page about what we can do to help (see the page on the left). These books also contain writing projects (see the page on the right) that are aligned to Common Core State Standards at whatever level the students are reading. National Geographic has developed books aligned to both science and social studies units. These books can serve as amazing mentor texts, as well as resources for engaging and relevant information for our middle grade learners. If you haven't seen them, you should definitely link over to the website, and check them out!