EUREKA Agora


Thematic Collections

The Recommended Trade Books Thematic Collections are intended to facilitate the use of thematic text sets in developing lesson plans. Some of the collections are appropriate for planning GED instruction (e.g. World War II), some are constructed around a certain topic (e.g. Whales), and some are for a particular group of students (e.g. Easy Reading Books). In addition to the titles and authors of the books, each collection may have information about the type of book, the setting of the story, or the themes in the story. Teaching ideas for using the collection are also included.


bullet American West Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

American West Teaching Ideas


bullet Appalachia Collection - Word document - updated August 2006

Several online resources about Appalachia, including an essay about the characteristics of Appalachian literature, are located at http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/mulappala2.htm.

Appalachia Teaching ideas


bullet Artists as Illustrators Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

This collection contains books which have been illustrated by well-known artists. The books could be used as an introduction to the work of these artists or as examples of how art compliments literature.


bullet Civil Rights Movement Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

The Civil Rights Movement collection will help students explore this important movement with a variety of books.


bullet Civil War and Slavery Books Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

The OLRC Reading Group developed the Civil War and Slavery books collection to aid teachers in finding books to meet their classroom needs centering on themes or categories.

The collection allows users to cross-reference the categories such as: heroes, slavery, Civil War, abolition, and the Underground Railroad. The matrix includes a rich selection of variety of texts; picture books, fiction, non-fiction, and biographies. This can assist the teacher in providing a wide variety of genres and reading levels to reach many types of reading interests in the classroom. The Civil War and Slavery collection also organizes books by level of reading difficulty that follows ABLE guidelines: Easy (level 1), Med (level 2), Diff (GED level).


bullet Death and Dying Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

The OLRC Reading Group developed this collection to help teachers explore the sensitive issues surrounding death-aging, illness, and dying in war and at home, cultural traditions and orphans. Reading about death and dying sometimes gives readers emotional distance from a painful topic.


bullet Diversity Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

This matrix includes books from the Trade Books collection that we feel give the reader a look at other cultures. For this collection, the idea of diversity was defined broadly as culture, ethnicity, and religion.

Explanations for the categories in the collection follow:

  • The culture category was marked if the book gave the reader information about how the particular group lived.
  • The harmony category was marked if the book showed how the group(s) lived in harmony with others.
  • The conflict category was marked if the book showed conflict with other groups
  • The historical category was marked if the book gave a historical background for the group.

    Books designated as picture books include books with photographs, drawings, paintings, and works in other media.

    While all cultures have their folktales, these can be found in the Legends, Tales, and Myths collection and are not included here.

    The books are not given a reading level by grade. Instead we have designated them as Easy, Medium, or Difficult. To help choose books at the appropriate level, the approximate reading levels are as follows:

  • Easy - grade level one through four
  • Medium - grade level five through eight
  • Difficult - grade nine through twelve

  • bullet Easy Reading Books Collection - Word document - updated September 2009

    The Easy Reading Books Collection lists books in the Recommended Trade Books that are appropriate for low level readers. The themes are listed for each book to assist the student and instructor in choosing books that would be of interest. The collection can also be used as a guide to selecting books that would be accessible to low level readers for use in a thematic unit in a multilevel classroom.

    Books on the topic of anthropology in the Easy Reading Collection include books on daily life, cultures, multiculturalism, and customs. Books on the topic of social issues include books that deal with change, gangs, homelessness, racism, violence, epidemics, immigration, and aging.


    bullet Education Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    These books focus on more formal education-in schools-rather than the equally important but less formal education we receive outside of schools. Some books on this list are all about schooling. In others, schooling plays an important but less major role. In a few nonfiction/ reference books, just a chapter is devoted to education. (The ESOL column is for books that would be especially useful with ESOL students, either as read-alouds or as reading material.)

    Education Teaching Ideas


    bullet Environment and Ecology Books Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The OLRC Reading Group developed the Environment and Ecology Collection to aid teachers in finding books to meet their classroom needs centering on themes or categories.

    The collection allows users to cross-reference the categories such as: disasters (natural and man-made), wildlife (mammals, sea life, insects, etc.), cycles of nature and seasons (including animal life cycles), man's influence on the environment, oceans and rivers, desert, woods, endangered species and regions (land or areas in danger), preservation, and weather & climate.

    The collection includes a rich selection of variety of texts; picture books, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, poetry, and essays. This can assist the teacher in providing a wide variety of genres to reach many types of reading interests in the classroom.

    The Environmental and Ecology Collection also organizes books by level of reading difficulty that follows ABLE guidelines: Easy (level 1), Med (level 2), Diff (GED level).


    bullet Exploration Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Books on exploration offer teachers interesting subject matter to introduce history, map skills, and journal writing. Collection categories include the names of explorers, the places explored, and the time period. Since most of the books are biographies, students have an opportunity to learn about the genre.

    Exploration Teaching Ideas


    bullet Family History Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The Family History Collection was developed to assist teachers in finding books on family history and family relationships. The collection is organized by the categories of author, title, type, difficulty, and setting.

    The family history books focus on family stories, oral history, and immigration. These books would be a nice addition to a unit in which students research their family history and create a family tree. The family relationships books focus on parent-child, grandparent-child, and sibling relationships. These books could be grouped by category or used independently.


    bullet Flight Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The OLRC Reading Group offers this matrix to help teachers introduce lessons of American history of special interest to both men and women. American History is linked inextricably to the history of aviation. The Flight Collection includes many books on Orville and Wilber Wright as well as many female aviators, all at a variety of reading levels. In addition to information about genre or type and reading difficulty, the collection includes aviator's names and accomplishments.

    Flight Teaching ideas


    bullet Grandparents Collection - Word document - updated September 2009

    The books in this collection are of several genre, but they all feature grandparents in some way. Books with a grandparent as a major character are noted, as are books that are memoirs or that involve a grandparent passing wisdom or knowledge on to a younger person. Ethnicity or cultural group of families and whether the book addresses immigration are noted.

    Grandparents Teaching ideas.


    bullet Harlem Renaissance - Word document - added July 2012

    The Harlem Renaissance was an African American cultural movement of the 1920s and early 1930s that was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The Harlem Renaissance marked the first time that mainstream publishers and critics took African American literature seriously. The books in this collection are about that time.

    Harlem Renaissance Teaching Ideas.


    bullet Health Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The books chosen for this matrix represent books that show how people can be affected by some aspect of health. This includes books where people succumb to or overcome a particular health issue. Only a few books on death and dying are included in this matrix. There are more books on this topic in the Death and Dying Matrix

    Information on health, including the books in this matrix, can be used in a variety of ways in adult literacy classrooms. Students could use the books to begin in-depth investigations of their own health issues or those of family members. Health issues can be incorporated into work on life skills to give students the opportunity to practice filling out confusing medical forms and to role play taking a more active part during their doctor visits. Aspects of health, for example nutrition, can be studied across all GED topic areas. Students could calculate calories or fiber content for math; study how various nutrients affect the body for science, write out a healthy menu for a week, and research typical diets in other cultures for social studies. Lesson plans for health literacy can be found at http://literacy.kent.edu/eureka/lessons/index.html


    bullet Holidays and Celebrations Collection - Word document - updated August 2008

    The books in the Holidays and Celebrations Collection are divided into types of celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Juneteenth, Kwanzaa, New Year, and everyday. These books are an excellent way to learn about holidays and celebrations in a variety of countries and would be beneficial for ESOL classes. The collection includes information on what country the celebration takes place in and if the story is about the origin of the celebration.

    These books could lead to discussion, writing, or even cooking as students share their unique celebrations with their classmates. A Venn Diagram or a matrix could be used to show the similarities and differences of these celebrations. Students could also use maps to find the settings for the stories.


    bullet Holocaust Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Beginning with Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and expanding as Germany conquered European countries, the Nazi government began state-sponsored persecution and annihilation of Jews and other groups including Gypsies, homosexuals, the physically disabled, Communists, Socialists, and Jehovah Witnesses. This became know as the Holocaust during which over 6 million people were forced from their homes to work in slave labor camps or to be killed in concentration camps and ghettos. Because survivors who experienced the Holocaust are nearing the end of their lives, understanding the lessons of this period of recent history becomes even more important. These books provide an entry into that world.

    The collection includes: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Graphic Novels, and Poetry at all reading levels. The books are divided into five categories: Stories of Bravery, In Hiding, Concentration Camps/Ghettos, Survivors, and Nazi Germany. Lesson plans, web sites and other teaching resources follow the list.

    Holocaust Teaching Ideas


    bullet Immigration Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The OLRC Reading Group introduces this text to help teachers find books on the rich history of immigration of many nationalities to America. The collection also includes books on migrant labor.


    bullet Legends, Tales and Myths Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Myth is a general term that includes legends and tales. More specifically, ancient myths often explained the origins of the natural world and the early history and customs of a people through gods and heroes who had superhuman powers. The stories came from an ancient oral tradition that was eventually recorded as part of the culture. Legends claim to come from an earlier period of history but cannot be verified. Traits of character and events have become exaggerated through retelling over long periods of time. Stories about cultural or ethnic heroes and heroines fall into this category.

    Tales recount events or happenings that are smaller in scope about real or imaginary events. Supernatural tales often take place in a realistic setting with one person, animal, or object with magic powers. Modern tales are created and written down by an author who bases his story on the characteristics of the oral traditions of legends and tales.

    The Tales, and Myths Collection organizes books by author, title, level of reading difficulty, type (ancient, supernatural, and modern) and geographical/cultural origin. The key for reading levels follows that of ABLE: Easy (Level 1), Medium (Level 2), and Difficult (GED Level).


    bullet Lives of Well Known Artists Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The Lives of Well Known Artists Collection highlights books from our Recommended Trade Books collection that tell about the lives of artists. The Artists Matrix has information about the type of art produced, when the artist lived, and if the book contains resources for additional information.

    The books on these artists can be used to prepare for or extend a visit to an art gallery or a discussion about art. Any one of the books can be used as a starting point for research into the history and geography of when and where the artists lived. These books can also be used to introduce students to biographies, encourage them to write a biography about someone in their lives, or inspire them to write family histories.

    In addition to using the books listed on the Artist Collection, we encourage you to explore picture books illustrated by famous illustrators and photographers. Some examples are the books written and illustrated by Thomas Locker or Something Permanent written by Cynthia Rylant with photographs by Walker Evans. More titles can be found in our Illustrators Collection


    bullet Maps Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Throughout recorded history, man has asked the questions, "How do I know where I am?" and "How can I tell others where I am?" The history of mapmaking or cartography shows us the progress in answering these questions in wider and wider contexts with greater and greater technology. Maps have been developed to tell or show everything from approaching hurricanes to locating our home from space via landsat. We follow maps on trips-across town or across the country or to recreate famous military maneuvers on battlefields. Maps usually have a theme, sometimes a title, a scale for distance, a directional orientation, grids (usually longitude and latitude), and a legend with symbols and colors. Learning to read maps is useful in our daily lives. The Maps Collection provides the opportunity to use and understand a variety of maps.

    All of the books in the matrix have at least one map that illustrates the content and several have multiple maps. The matrix has the standard categories of author, title, reading level, and type. Additional columns indicate books that focus on mapmaking, contain multiple maps, specific types of maps, and the location mapped.

    Maps Teaching Ideas


    bullet Ohio History Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The books listed in this collection take place in various locations throughout Ohio. The books are organized by these categories: Daily Living, Famous Ohioans, Settling Ohio, and Underground Railroad/Slavery.

    Ohio History Teaching Ideas


    bullet Poetry Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The OLRC Reading Group developed the Poetry Collection to aid teachers in finding specific poetry to meet their classroom needs as easily and quickly as possible.

    The list also includes books that use poetic language but are not technically regular enough to be called poetry. I Have Heard of a Land by Joyce Carol Thomas is a good example.

    Picture books that are illustrated with photographs and art work are marked by an asterisk (*) before the title. Collected poems of different poets or anthologies are marked by an ampersand (@) after the title. Collections that are the work of one poet are not marked with a symbol but indicated by the author's name in the first column. Some collections include prose as well as poetry e.g. Bearing Witness by Rochman and McCampbell. Some anthologies are uneven in quality. Teachers are encouraged to read any selections before using them in the classroom.

    The Poetry Collection organizes books by level of reading difficulty, the content or subject matter, the characteristic of poetic form that best lends itself for study, and the suggested classroom use of the poems. The key for reading levels follows that of ABLE: Easy (Level 1), Medium (Level 2) and Difficult (GED Level). The phrase word/image under Poetic Form refers to the relationship of the text to the illustrations.


    bullet Sports Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    The Sports Collection contains books from our Recommended Trade Books collection that might appeal to students who are interested in athletics. The difficulty levels of the books range from easy to difficult but most books are easy or medium. Information in the matrix includes what sport and/or athlete is featured in the book.

    The books in the Sports Collection lend themselves to explorations of the genre of biography. The books on sports could also lead to lessons in math, especially statistics. Some of the books could be used as supplemental reading in history classes. Some examples include: Atalanta's Race in a unit on Greece mythology, Baseball Saved Us during the study of Japanese internment camps during WWII, First in the Field as part of a discussion about integration.


    bullet Weather and Seasons Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    While these books may not be "scientific" they contain interesting information about weather, the seasons, and the effects of both.

    Weather Teaching ideas


    bullet Whales Collection - Word document - updated September 2009

    The Whales Collection is organized by the categories of author, title, type, difficulty, and setting. The "setting" category is included because each book refers to a different body of water (other than Gone A Whaling, which does not specify a body of water). The books focus on the areas of migration, behaviors, habitats, and characteristics of whales. Whale species, mentioned in these books, are not specified because they are too numerous. These are enjoyable books, which could be used in a unit on ocean life or endangered species.


    bullet Women in History Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Some titles in this collection are picture books with spare text, some are full biographies, and some are collections of shorter biographies about several women (marked bio; group). All focus on important (though not necessarily always famous) women in history.

    Women in History Teaching ideas


    bullet Work Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Although most of the books on the Eureka database involve work in some sense, the books selected for the collection depict specific types of work and work environments-or the lack of work and unemployment. For example, the collection includes books about artists and how they create their art but does not include biographies of artists. These are located in a separate Illustrators Collection.

    In addition to the standard collection categories of author, title, reading level, and type, the Work Collection also sorts books by the fields of child labor, historical, migrant, types of work and unemployment.

    Teachers and learners will find extensive helpful information on the web site for the National Institute for Literacy Workforce Special Collection located at http://worklink.coe.utk.edu.

    Work Teaching ideas


    bullet World War II Collection - Word document - updated July 2012

    Students can learn about the many aspects of the Second World War with the books included in this matrix.

    World War II Teaching ideas



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