A Holocaust Heroine

January 11, 2012

The Holocaust. Sorrow grips my heart when I think of the injustice placed upon the Jewish people. Freedom is priceless… for everyone.

Irena Sendler is one account of a brave heroine during the Holocaust. Her story had remained silent until 1989. During the Warsaw Ghetto, Irene helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children to safety. She secretly hide the children’s identity on a list she buried in a jar.  When captured by the Nazis, Irene was sentenced to death. By a bribe from someone outside, Irene was miraculously able to escape. After the war, Irena began to reunite children and surviving parents. Read her story in the book, Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto, by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Sharing Irene’s story and others of the Holocaust, we have an opportunity to teach our children respect for others, to stand against bullies, and preserve life.

To hear Irena speak about her encounter with the Ghetto, introduce your children to the video clip of her (3 min.) I suggest viewing the pictures prior to showing it to your children. Young children may not fulling understand.

How her story was shared.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Irena  Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto:

  • Biography with tension
  • Quotes
  • Snapshot
  • Important details – summarizing
  • Community building

PES new book


Patriots as Kids

September 19, 2011

Lane Smith crafts the book, John, Paul, George & Ben, as a storyteller speaking directly to the reader. You become wrapped up in the perspective of our forefathers’ childhoods. Kids will find it interesting to read about the historical persons as children, doing everyday child-like activities. Lane Smith’s humor is refreshing.

John, Paul, George & Ben is a fun background read for American history. Each of the five Sons of Liberty are spotlighted with events that made them famous.

In the back of the book, Lane Smith adds a true/false section to clarify focal points in the short chapters shared. I love the humor and play on words. What a fun way to get a discussion going!

There a brief video advertisement for the book. Scroll to the second video on the link. Another video, below, shows a sneak peek at the book and shares what inspired Lane Smith to create the book.

Savorings for reading and in writing for John, Paul, George & Ben:

  • Magic of 3 – John Hancock (you’ll be laughing)
  • Punctuation – clauses especially names
  • Humor – takes normal activity and creates a twist. For example, Paul rung the bell. The ringing caused his hearing to be back. Thus, he’d yell to the customers where he worked.
  • One day experience – George
  • Power of Words – Tom
  • True/False section in back – excellent background for the Revolutionary War
  • Great teacher resource link

 


September 11th: A Day to Remember

September 11, 2011

Rembering this tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacked,  I appreciated Stacey Shubitz’s reflections on Two Writing Teachers. I remember where I was the day America was attacked. My heart was shocked, angered, concerned.

Today has been a day of reflection. The date “September 11th” fills my heart with mixed feelings. Today is my youngest son’s 13th birthday. He’s full of energy and excitement and embraces this day as something special. He has compassion for others and does not forget to honor those who served on his birthday ten years ago. He’s mindful of others, and I believe this day has touched his heart.

I have several books I share to help children connect with this memorable day. I posted about Fireboat:  the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman in 2009. People made the decision to get involved, do their part, and intervened during a crisis.

I had planned to post the book 14 Cows for America by Carman Agra Deedy in detail, but due to my dad being in the hospital this week, time slipped away. I highly recommend reading the book to you students this week. Our country united during this time and we need to remind our future generation how necessary compassion is to keeping a great nation. Carman shares how others had compassion for a hurting nation. It will allow your students the opportunity for discussion on what they can do for others in need.


Rough, Tough Charley

August 24, 2011

One of my favorite YA novels is Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (drawings by Brian Selznick). The story lingers with me. I love historical narrative. I’m fascinated with stories of people who triumph over difficulties. I’m encouraged. I was thrilled to find a picture book about the character in Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay.

In Riding Freedom, a young orphaned girl escapes and survives looking like a boy. She, Charley, is a horse-whisperer and survives by living in a livery stable. Eventually, Charley learns to drive a stage-coach and becomes an expert driver.

When I saw Rough, Tough, Charley at the library, I knew the picture book would be about the same character. Verla Kay recreated the narrative through poetic stanzas. The text form is not what I expected a delightful change. Adam Gustavson recreates the western setting brilliantly with his paintings, adding to the mood.

I highly recommend reading this book and using it to build background knowledge on the pioneer west, women’s rights, and poetry verse structure.

In the back, a timeline is shared with a short synopsis of important events in Charley’s life. I learned more about the character ad now am comparing/contrasting to the novel’s portrayal.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Rough, Tough Charley:

  • Biography – great way to show how genres and forms can be mingled
  • Poetic narrative – I like the short conversation integrated in the text.
  • Background Knowledge – women’s rights (Charley voted when women could not.)
  • Word Choice
  • Inference – lots of discussion around the character, Charley

Warsaw Community Public Library new book


TV: How it was Invented

August 3, 2011

Kathleen Krull introduces her book with “Life Before Philo”, inviting the reader to imagine life in history. A contrast to today – no visual images except for the movie theater. Only the radio brought live entertainment into the home.

The Boy Who Invented TV: the Story of Philo Farnsworth shares how Philo was curious and intelligent. He asked questions of the repairman and read article in science magazines. Scientists were trying to create television and Philo’s mind lingered on the mystery.

Kathleen Krull shares how the idea was inspired at age 14 and Phil’s stages in creating the first TV image. This biography is a longer text, yet grabs the reader’s attention. The author’s note in the back shares how he won the patent but was not given credit for creating TV due to big business. They featured TV at the World’s Fair.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Boy Who Invented TV: the Story of Philo Farnsworth:

  • Importance of life-learning
  • Show Don’t Tell – Kathleen’s craft with words is awesome
  • Voice – “And there was not television. That’s right. NO TV.”
  • Varied sentences
  • M Dash – used several times for emphasis on the key idea
  • Author’s Note – excellent background information and gives the rest of the story

PES new book (2009)


Ameila Earhart

July 25, 2011

Robert Burleigh chooses beautiful words dipped with richness in his book Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic. His use of careful phrasing, short quipped sentences and interwoven personification,challenges your thinking. His biographical narrative allows the reader to feel Amelia’s anxiousness and hopefulness at the same time. I marvel at Burleigh’s molding of words. The emotion keeps you on the edge.

1:00 a.m. The friendly night becomes a graph of fear: a jagged line between where-I-am and not-quite-sure.

Your students will be engaged in thought. Each page turning brings forth a new possibility.

Wendell Minor‘s paintings illuminate the highlights of the scene. The reader has the sense he/she is flying with Amelia, viewing the Atlantic for the first time.

When you open the book, notice the end papers. They have a map of Amelia’s journey from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Derry, Northern Ireland. A sketch of her plane, Little Red Bus, depicts the Lockheed Vega she flew. An afterword in the back shares a short biography of Amelia’s ambitious personality and love for flying. In addition, other research websites are shared. I particularly love the “Things Amelia Said” section. She was a bold lady with zest!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses:

  • 2 word sentences – lots of varying
  • Foreshadowing – the flight seems to be going smoothly when a storm erupts
  • Similes – lots
  • Personification – brings the reader into the midst of history
  • Colon – used numerous times

PES new book


Laughter

June 25, 2011

Lester Laminack spoke at the AllWrite!!! Summer Institute this past Tuesday. His sense of humor engages his audience. His session was on the importance of the right kinds of details in writing. I’ll share that later.

The important tip Lester shared was on laughter. He said laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins allow the brain to be flooded with energy and thus our students learn better. Lester then challenged us by having 4 to 5 one liners in our back pocket to use when our students seem to be dull and not awake. It will grab their attention and give them a boost.

I’m glad. Maybe that’s why I love to laugh. Laughter releases a lot of good feelings. I guess that’s why I was drawn to the book, Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the country). Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer  share how Abraham Lincoln used laughter to win people over and help lighten a serious moment.

Throughout the book, you will find quotes from Abraham Lincoln. I find them fascinating and I think your students will enjoy them as well. This book is a great way to introduce biography. The richness of the text is packed with information yet will not bore the reader. In fact, the voice of the authors make you want to read on.

Savorings for reading and writing for Lincoln Tells a Joke:

  • Biography
  • Transitions – scenes highlight the important parts of his life
  • Quotes -
  • Love of reading
  • Common theme of laughter interwoven throughout each stage of his life
  • Author’s note

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