My Rotten Red-headed Older Brother

October 14, 2008

Libraries are filled with books, new and old.  Classrooms are filled with books – new and old.  My office is filled with book…new and old.  When reading like a writer, it’s not about whether the book is new, but rather how you are drawn to the book.  Does the book grab your attention immediately?  Do you begin to fall in love with the words?  These books are the ones to use.  You want to be passionate about the book.

My fellow teachers will often ask what books would I use to teach a particular craft lesson. I will always suggest my favorites first, but… I always stress that they have to enjoy the book to be able to teach from the book.  Anyone can teach you lessons on how to use a book, but the majic of the book comes from you.  If I don’t enjoy the book, the craft and words won’t shine through.  I invite you to savor books that I love, but begin to hunt for your favorites too.  Be a book savor.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brotherby Patricia Polacco

Patricia Polacco sets the stage for sibling rivalry in this unique story.  I love the way she uses her words in painting a picture that students can relate too.  You can feel the frustration of the younger sister wanting to out do her brother.  In writing, I enjoy showing how Patricia summarized the main point and then supports it with snapshot scenes.  This book is one of my top touchstone texts that I use with intermediate grades.

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Rotten Red-headed Older Brother:

  • character description – beginning with her brother
  • action packed (“climb the highest, throw the farthest, sit the longest, …”) and superlatives
  • fast forwarding time (“We both picked berries for most of the afternoon.”)
  • honest with her feelings
  • change in story – a connection (“It was from that exact moment that our relationship changed somehow.”)
  • hyphenated words (“Extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins)