Alabama's Big Read project this year is with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. A fellow librarian and myself collaborated to put together a gigantic adventure journal for our students. The journal includes a word search and word scramble, places for students to sketch a steamboat and draw a Most Wanted Pirate sign, and tons of opportunities for research on everything from southern culture to the typical dress of boys and girls in the 1800's to Robert Fulton (inventor of the steamboat engine). There is something for everyone in this journal, and I have had an absolute blast with my students as we've studied it!
One reason I wanted to create the adventure journal was because Tom Sawyer is written on an 8th grade reading level. Twain's vocabulary is rather extensive, and even 5th graders get tangled up in the "conjectured's" and the "alacrity's" and the "constrained's". So, I re-read the book myself so I could book-talk it for all of my kinds in grades 1-5. What a great book! Not one chapter went by without my thinking the Big Read book pickers are a team of geniuses! This book is really funny, well-woven, and it does a fantastic job of reminding us all how kids act, think, and play.
Tom Sawyer is an orphan living with his brother and sister under the care of their Aunt Polly. Rather predisposed to mischief, Tom tends to either find or make an enormous amount of trouble. From accidentally witnessing a murder to getting stuck 5 miles underground in an enormous cavern, Tom is highly capable of getting himself into trouble. Good thing for Tom, he's rather good at getting himself OUT of trouble, too!
I read this book long ago when I was in elementary school, and likely would never have chosen to read it again if it were not for the Big Read. I'm so glad I did! This book now ranks high among my top favorites! And many of my favorite quotes are from Mark Twain, so it's no surprise that I absolutely loved his style, sarcasm, and wit.
Get full text of Tom Sawyer here: http://www.google.com/books?id=j5UgAAAAMAAJ&dq=the%20adventures%20of%20tom%20sawyer&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false
You can also download the entire thing for FREE on Kindle or Stanza iPhone apps.
Here is my wikispace page I created for The Big Read: http://nheskids.wikispaces.com/The+BIG+READ+Resources