I’m very excited about where Capstone’s Engage Literacy program is going. Engage Literacy provides paired fiction and nonfiction leveled texts for classroom literacy assessment. (Find out more here.) Mostly, I’m completely thrilled with the illustrated fiction characters. So, I couldn’t pick just one title to review, but decided to take a look at the characters collectively.
Some of the Engage fiction characters such as the young Space Guard Max Jupiter Astro Marriot (my personal favorite!), Min Monkey, Lea, Little Sea Horse, and Baby Dinosaur are gaining lives of their own as the Engage offering expands. And more titles means even more adorable! I mean, just look at these guys!
However, as one season of frantic work here at Capstone wraps up in one way or another, all the new possibilities for characters, or new stories with characters that are now my old friends, are the driving force that keep me going on to the next seasons. I thrive on ideas, and the fiction half of the Engage program is a fantastic place for me to put those ideas to use. I do not know which story ideas will make the final cut in future seasons, but I do know that many of the characters that have wormed their way into the hearts of the editors in the Classroom team at Capstone are there to stay.
So while I help to dream up more catastrophes for Max Jupiter, during which he must use his ingenuity and problem-solving skills, and my fellow Classroom editors help to add the lovable Sofia to the recurring crew by telling more of her life and the discovery of her heritage, we also try to increase the size of our Engage fiction family of characters: medieval mice that ride bunnies while defending their kingdom? Kids who can create anything they can imagine out of snow? A girl whose after-school job is to take care of a pet store full of magical, mischievous creatures?
Who knows what worlds Engage could open portals to in the future! But I am certain that no matter what stories Engage needs to tell, it will be hard not to fall in love with every single one of the stories’ characters. They help us relate to, remember, sympathize with, and understand people or situations in our own lives. They let us see ourselves in them, and we know we are not alone. In the realistic fiction, they feel the way we often do, and it’s easy to get caught up in rooting for them. In the other genres, the characters can expand our scope of ourselves, making us envision what we might do or how we might handle extraordinary circumstances. And other characters bring history to life, letting us walk through it with them. Most importantly, the characters are the biggest part of how students engage in Engage!
Reading suggestions: Engage fiction titles pair well with passion fruit tea and biscuits. Read throughout the year for a variety of tales and characters of all kinds!
-Gina Kammer, Classroom Editor