Reaching for Sun

Reaching for Sun

Book Category: Poetry collection
Author: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Copyright: (2007) New York, NY
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A Children’s Books
Suggested Grade Level: 5
Lexile Level: 580L
Accelerated Reader: 5.8
Suggested Delivery: Read-Aloud
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
Summary: This book of poems describes the life of a young girl named Josie, who lives in a small farmhouse with her mother and her “gran.” She has always known that she was different due to her cerebral palsy disability, demanding family members, and never getting the opportunity to know her father. When a new boy named Jordan moves into the same small neighborhood as her, Josie soon realizes that she may not be so different after all and that maybe being unique is better than being ordinary. The two become friends (and possibly something more), and they soon discover all of the beautiful things about one another that other people were so quick to judge and overlook.
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Inspiring, Unique, Heartfelt, Proud, Poetic
Electronic Resources:
  1. This website provides a detailed guide on how to help students write their own poems, including the steps to take when writing a poem, how these tips can be helpful, and additional resources that teachers and students can use to create poetry:
  2. This website provides in-depth information about cerebral palsy so that both teachers and students can get a better understanding of the disability:
  3. This website provides a summary of the book, the overall message of the book, and the importance of incorporating a topic such as a disability into children’s literature:
Key Vocabulary:
  • Occupational Therapy: a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.
  • Heirloom: a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.
  • Foliage: plant leaves, collectively.
  • Tuberous: characterized by or affected by rounded swellings.
  • Whirligig: a thing regarded as hectic or constantly changing.
  • Metronome: a device used by musicians that marks time at a selected rate by giving a regular tick.
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
Before: Students will practice identifying figurative language prior to reading the book. They will play games, participate in activities, and take quizzes online that will test their background knowledge of figurative language, such as metaphors, similes, hyperboles, personification, and more. These activities can be found here:
During: Students will use post-it notes to identify the different figurative language that the author uses throughout the book. They are expected to have at least one post-it note on each page that identifies the type of figurative language and the specific example from the book.
After: Students will get into small groups and complete a chart that displays figurative language. The chart should display a table or a graphic organizer. It should include the different types of figurative language, the definitions of each type, and specific examples from the book. An example of this chart can be found here:

Writing Activity- Students will create their own poems. They will choose the topics of their poems and pick from a list of different types of poems so that there is a wide variety of poetry in the classroom. Students will share their poems with the rest of the class once they are finished and published.  
Teacher’s Guide:



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