Monday, May 27, 2013

Must Read Mentor Texts - Blood on the River

Yay! I'm finally linking up with Amanda and Stacia!

I love this link up idea, but so many times I don't feel like I can really participate since I only teach reading now. However, I realized I use a TON of Social Studies texts when I read with my kids (they're probably some of my favorite books), so I decided to go ahead and join in at least for those. I still don't have many math or science, but I can participate when I feel it works for me!

One of my favorite Social Studies texts to use when I was teaching fourth grade was a book called Blood on the River. 

Sounds gross, right? But I've already hooked my boys from the beginning! See, in Virginia we teach VA History in 4th and/or 5th grade. Blood on the River is a mostly factual book about the Jamestown settlement, which is a HUGE part of VA history. It is told from the point of view of John Smith's 12-year-old apprentice. Warning (and you may have already guessed this): this book is NOT for the faint of heart. It doesn't wrap things up in a nice little box. It's VERY up front and honest from describing the slop buckets they used on the ships to discussing how some settlers dug up dead bodies during the starving time (although that's only mentioned in the epilogue). But I love it because it paints a real picture of how things were when the settlers came to Jamestown. It wasn't all pretty and easy, and the book really stuck with my kids every year! I even recommend the read for yourself if you just want to learn more about Jamestown. It's fascinating!

I struggled to choose a word, but the reason I chose control is because Samuel (the boy) had to learn to control his temper, much like John Smith. Also, there's a constant battle over control within the settlement (gentlemen vs. John Smith) and the land (Chief Powhatan vs. English). You literally won't be able to put the book down!

Now, have a fantastic Memorial Day! I can't wait to pig out and have fun with friends later this evening. Then we only have 14 more days of school left until summer break is officially here!


  1. I had this as an option with my book clubs. My boys loved it. They convinced three of my girls to read it, too. Great book! I also teach reading, but use books like this one because some students, more boys, don't like fiction. Historical fiction can pull them in.
    Learning in Bliss

  2. I love this! Will definitely be reading it for myself (I love history!) and hopefully can use it in the future as well. I think these "honest" books are GREAT for the kids.. and you're right.. such a motivation for the boys!
    I'm Lovin Lit

  3. Wow! What a great book! I think I've seen it but I've never read it! We touch a little on Jamestown and I can totally see my boys eating it up!

    I'm so glad you linked up! I'm glad you'll link up whenever you feel it works!
    Collaboration Cuties

  4. I bet the love this book. Virginia history is so interesting and I am sure the boys were hooked at the word BLOOD. ;)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  5. What an interesting book! I will have to check this out.

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  6. I will have to read this one with my son for next year when he studies VA History. Thanks for sharing!!

    Reading Toward the Stars