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Student Author Sells Thousands of Books



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
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Grades 2-up

News Content

Ten-year-old Alec Greven is the author of several best-selling advice books for kids.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to offer advice or tips for ways to talk with parents. Write down on a board or a sheet of chart paper some of their best advice.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: independent, noticed, publish, organize, donated, and inspired. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • Have you ever ____ how many snacks are full of sugar? (noticed)
  • Students at Branch Street School ____ more than 1,000 cans of food to the Food Bank. (donated)
  • All the compliments about her singing voice ____ Jordan to try out to be a contestant on American Idol. (inspired)
  • It took Brandon a few hours to ____ his baseball cards by team. (organize)
  • Sherrys mother was so proud that Sherry was growing more ____. She even cleaned up her room without being asked. (independent)
  • At the end of the year, each student chose a favorite story to ____ in a class book. (publish)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Student Author Sells Thousands of Books.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Alec Greven is a fourth grader at Soaring Hawk Elementary School in Castle Rock, Colorado. When he was a third grader, his teacher, Anna Dupree, challenged students to write books independently. Alec wrote seven pages of advice on how to talk to girls. He wrote about not showing off or being the class clown. His favorite advice: Sometimes you get a girl to like you, then she ditches you. Life is hard, move on.
  • The school librarian, Janice Perry, decided to sell spiral-bound editions of the book at the school book fair. As it turned out, Alecs book was the fairs best seller. Perry even gave a copy of the book to her adult son. You can learn from this, she told him. Its level-headed.
  • How to Talk to Dads. The main difference between moms and dads is that dads dont let you get away with the big stuff like playing with matches, says Greven, while mothers dont let you get away with anything.
  • Alecs advice for getting a girl includes, You cant be goofy. You have to control your hyperness. Cut down on the sugar if you have to. You wont get a good start if youre hyper. See more of Alecs advice on this YouTube video from Borders Books.
  • Grevens success has led to the creation of a Keep the Writing Alive Award at his school.
  • Greven has donated a portion of his book advance to the charity Stand Up To Cancer. He has even started his own Stand Up to Cancer fundraising team. Everyone knows someone who's had cancer, someone like my grandmothers, said Alec.
  • Alec has appeared on Ellen three times in the past 14 months.
  • Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights to How to Talk to Girls. At this time, there is no screenwriter attached to the project.
  • Alec would rather read than play video games. His room has more books than toys. He says he has read all seven volumes of Harry Potter at least five times.

Comprehension Check

Recalling Detail

  • What is the title of Alec Grevens first book? (How to Talk to Girls)
  • In how many languages has How to Talk to Girls been printed? (17 languages)
  • At the school book fair, how much did a printed copy of How to Talk to Girls cost?
  • ($3)
  • Who put Alec in touch with a publisher? (Ellen DeGeneres did)
  • What is the title of the new book that Alecs publisher will start selling this fall? (How to Talk to Santa)
  • To what charity is Alec donating some of his book-sales proceeds? (The charity is called Stand Up to Cancer.)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about talking to teachers.

Follow-Up Activities

Critical thinking. Review students advice or tips for talking with parents. (See the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson.) Ask students to expand the list. As a follow-up activity, you might share with students one of these video interviews with Alec Greven:

Citizenship. Invite students to respond in writing to one of these predicaments:

  • On your way home from school, you see two kids spray painting words on a fence. They run from the scene as soon as they see you. What would you do?
  • While walking home from school, you realize that a stranger is following you. What would you do?
  • You and your friend are playing on the playground when you find a small blue pill in the grass. What would you do?
  • On your way to school you see a stranger walking around a neighbors house. You know the neighbor is on vacation. What would you do?

Math graph the results. Invite students to share the titles of their favorite books of all time. Have students vote to narrow down the list to ten favorite titles. Then conduct an election. Have students use the Create a Graph tool to create a graph to illustrate the voting results.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

MATHEMATICS: Representation
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena

NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen

GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity Tools

See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
Education World®
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