Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club by Janet Wong, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett.
This story is about a boy who loves chess, has a set back and finds his way back. It talks about scholastic tournaments as well as the importance of practice. The story is a bit formulaic, but young kids will most likely enjoy it. Several important themes provide good fodder for discussion, e.g., friends supporting each other, persistence, dealing with negative people. It also features a chess board made out of common foods which would make a great accompanying activity depending on the setting. There aren’t many ( or at least we don’t know about them – please let us know if you know of others) fiction books for elementary students that feature chess as a central theme. Budding players will enjoy seeing their favorite game in a story. New players may find a bit of inspiration in reading about someone their age who plays.
For an easy classroom activity that you can do with kids whether or not they know how to play chess, you can print out copies of some Pawn Mower puzzles to use in class. The instructions are very easy to understand, but the puzzles are still fun. If your kids are younger or if few of them know how to play chess, stick with puzzles with fewer pawns on the board and start with puzzles that feature a rook.
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