Teachers for Teachers | It’s Monday! We Read The Parker Inheritance and Had a Fangirl Moment at NCTE #IMWAYR #BuildYourStack
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It’s Monday! We Read The Parker Inheritance and Had a Fangirl Moment at NCTE #IMWAYR #BuildYourStack

You know a middle-grade novel is compelling when you are sitting in your driveway after a two-hour commute because you can’t stop listening. This was our experience listening to The Parker Inheritance.  In this novel, Varian Johnson brings history and mystery together to create one incredible story.  The chapters alternate between current day life in Lambert, South Carolina, and living in Lambert during the late 1950’s. The contrast between the two time periods gives readers an understanding of life in the segregated south while inviting them to grapple with the racial and gender struggles of today.

The Parker Inheritance is a complex story.  We wanted to support students in exploring the depths of this novels so we created a basket for students to access as they read this book.  The basket has books and two digital bins with mixed-media text sets. The basket includes picture books set during the civil rights movement for readers to explore as they read the novel or after they read the novel.  The QR code on the left side is a digital bin filled with photographs of the segregated south and song lyrics from a few civil rights songs.  The QR code on the right side is a digital bin for readers who want to learn a bit more about Varian Johnson and see The Parker Inheritance receive the Horn Book Award.  These resources provide the background knowledge some readers may need to fully appreciate and understand the time period in which this novel is set.  Once readers see a digital bin of mixed media text, they are typically inspired to add to it or create their own.  It is a great way for them to respond, connect with other readers and express their interpretation of a text.  We love digital bins – our students join us in expanding our classroom library without any additional costs!  If you want to see these digital bins, scan the QR codes on the basket or click on our Pinterest Board – Multi-Media Text Set for The Parker Inheritance.

We must admit, we had a fangirl moment at NCTE when we heard Varian speak and even had the chance to talk with him about The Parker Inheritance.  He shared that he has been reading this book with fifth and sixth graders and loves how this age group is responding to the text.  This was the audience he had in mind when he wrote it.   He spoke on a panel of authors and reminded all of us of the importance of curating classroom libraries that reflect the world in which we live.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

If you want to read more ideas on how to use books to engage and instruct readers, check out our latest book, It’s All About the Books.  We are donating all of our royalties to the Book Love Foundation.  The Book Love Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving classroom libraries and putting books in the hands of students.



  • Avatar
    Posted at 17:15h, 19 November Reply

    I adored The Parker Inheritance — such great development of characters, excellent historical context, and an exciting mystery that kept me guessing. I’m so envious of all you NCTE attenders. I’m in that time of life where I cannot attend, so I get to live vicariously through everyone else. Have a great reading week, Tammy and Clare!

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 17:22h, 19 November Reply

    I enjoy reading about your ideas when reading more complex texts like The Parker Inheritance. I enjoyed it immensely, but understand that background knowledge would be a big help. It’s fun to see that pic from NCTE. From what I saw shared, it looked like a great time in Houston!

  • Avatar
    Laura Mossa
    Posted at 20:38h, 19 November Reply

    I just loved The Parker Inheritance and listened to the audio version too. The blend of mystery and history was very compelling. The novel propelled me to read The Westing Game which I had never had the opportunity to read. I love the idea of creating text sets that will support students’ understanding of the historical context in the novel. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Lisa Maucione
    Posted at 23:42h, 19 November Reply

    I love the idea of digital bins. I was really intrigued with the mystery in The Parker Inheritance. I didn’t see Varian at NCTE this year, but I did get to hear him talk about the book last year at NCTE. It was good to see you there!

  • Avatar
    Cheriee Weichel
    Posted at 03:11h, 20 November Reply

    I’m so glad that you highlighted this book today. It’s been on my to read list for a while, but I never found time for it. I am happy that my library now has The Parker Inheritance as an audiobook! Now that I am in the throes of finishing up handmade projects for Christmas I’m looking for great books to listen to.

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