Engage Students in the Kentucky Derby

Posted by Big Universe on Apr 30, 2014 7:10:05 AM

“And they’re off!” After My Old Kentucky Home is played, the horn is blown, and the jockeys are in place, the race begins: it’s the Kentucky Derby! Students across the country might not be quite as invested in this day of racing as their southern counterparts, but the spirit and object of the race will nevertheless be a fun topic for students to read about. Engage your students in books that showcase horses and even the derby itself with the Big Universe e-books below:

Kentucky Derby e-Books for Grades K-2

by Emily K. Green © 2007
ISBN: 160014067X AR: Book Level 1.1 / Points 0.5 / Quiz 113648 / Interest Level LG

Did you know that horses use their tails to swat flies off their bodies? Beginning readers will discover how horses act on the farm and how farmers use horses for work and play.


by Rebecca Gauthier (author), Rae Mendiola (illustrator) © 2012
ISBN: 9781620468210

This informational book uses engaging illustrations and expository text to introduce a topic. Readers locate facts and learn domain-specific vocabulary such as “foal,” “mane,” and “gallop.”

Kentucky Derby e-Books for Grades 3-5

by Gail Mack © 2010
ISBN: 9780761445975

Describes the characteristics and behavior of pet horses, also discussing their physical appearance and place in history.


by Steven Otfinoski (author) © 2010
ISBN: 9780761445104

Animals Animals takes young readers to the heart of the jungle, across the plains, and out to sea to explore the lives of the world’s amazing animals. Each title examines the anatomy and special skills of its subject as well as its habitat, diet, and hunting strategy. Remarkable insights into family and social interactions and compelling discussions about the often precarious future faced by each animal round out each title.

Kentucky DerbyKentuckyDerby
by S.L. Hamilton (author) © 2013
ISBN: 9781614808558 AR: / Points 0.5

This title explores the history of the Kentucky Derby. Readers will meet important people in Kentucky Derby history such as Meriweather Lewis Clark, Jr. Readers will learn about the race’s dirt track at historic Churchill Downs. Readers will learn the rules of the race from the Kentucky Derby Championship Series qualifying events to the finish line. Famous horses such as Aristides, Regret and Citation, Secretariat and Seattle Slew are introduced, as are top jockeys such as Bill Hartack, Willie Schumacher. A&D Xtreme is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.

Kentucky Derby e-Books for Grades 6-8

Horse PowerHorsePower
by Ann Walsh (author) © 2007
ISBN: 9781551438818 AR: Book Level 3.5 / Points 2.0 / Quiz 118642 / Interest Level MG

Once again Callie is forced to take part in her mom’s latest crusade. They head into ranch country to camp — bloodthirsty mosquitoes, stinky outhouses and all — at a protest to save a rural school. Callie’s grandmother shows up with her biker buddies and the singing grannies. Callie hates camping and wants nothing to do with the protest. To make matters worse, Callie’s only possible ally, her cousin Del, is mad at her. The last time Callie visited, she was thrown from Del’s horse, Radish. Callie claimed the horse was vicious and now Del’s parents are forcing her to sell Radish. Callie wants to help her cousin, but she’s terrified of the horse. Del is just as tenacious as the rest of Callie’s family, and Callie is forced to admit that she’s not going to be allowed to go home until both the horse and the school are saved.

Kentucky Derby e-Books for High School

Black BeautyBlackBeauty
by Anna Sewell (author) © 2010
ISBN: 9781602911420

The author tells this unforgettable story, which takes place in nineteenth-century England, through the eyes of Black Beauty. The reader will feel the love & cruelty that this great stallion experiences. Beginning with Black Beauty’s wonderful life with his master, Squire Gordon, and the kindness of Jerry Barker to the terrible times as a “cab” horse having to tolerate the torture of the “proper” English bearing reins, Black Beauty’s story speaks for all animals that can’t speak for themselves.

Kentucky Derby in the Classroom

With all of these book choices, differentiation for ability levels can definitely happen in your classroom. How will you utilize these books with students?

Topics: Classroom Ideas, Differentiation, Integration Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

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