April 11, 2011
I have never been to Haiti, but I did live in the Dominican Republic. The scenery is beautiful. The vivid colors Alix Delinois paints mirrors the beauty of the island – bright, vibrant, delightful.
It has been a year since the earthquake shattered Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010. In the author’s note, Edwidge Danticat share the moment when the news arrived. Born in Haiti with family still there, the news was close to her heart.
This story, Eight Days: the Story of Haiti, is about a seven-year old boy named Junior. He was trapped in the rubble for seven days. To survive, Junior played games in his mind, memories that gave him hope. I believe it’s important to show children the impossible moments can happen.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Eight Days: A Story of Haiti:
- Connection to current events
- Imagination – visualizing everyday happenings
- Transitions – snapshot moments from one day to the next
- Family Importance
March 16, 2011
In light of the recent earthquake in Japan, I was encouraged through the book, Hope for Haiti. Jesse Joshua Watson creates hope through the after-math of the earthquake in Haiti a year ago. He begins the book with an author’s note. Through seeing photos of children playing soccer, a sport the author enjoys, he noticed the children were rising above the chaos and destruction. Jesse shares how he writes and illustrates the book at the Amazon link.
Hope for Haiti is a story of a young boy who plays soccer. His home is a temporary shelter made with tarps, posts and a sheet of tin. His ball is made of rags twined together with rubber bands. His joy is through playing with friends and children. Meeting a man who encourages their youthfulness by giving them a soccer ball signed by professional, one who had been like them. Laughter rises above the turmoil.
I hope you find books that will bring joy and hope in times of hardship and difficulty. Through sharing this book and others, children’s imaginations will allow them to rise above their circumstances and sail toward their dreams.
February 9, 2011
Ron McNair had a dream. He dreamed of flying a plane. The book Ron’s Big Mission shares another dream he had – checking out his own library books. The authors, Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden, share Ron’s determination on our summer day in 1959.
I love the fact that Ron had a thirst for knowledge. He visited the Lake City Library frequently, being the “best customer.” At that time, laws prohibited African-Americans from checking books out. No today. Today, Ron wanted to check the books out and displays his determination.
At the end of the story, an author’s note shares that Ron McNair did fulfill his dream of flying and also became an astronaut. On January 28, 1986, Ron lost his life when the Challenger space shuttle blew up. Ron’s memory lives on at Lake City Library.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Ron’s Big Mission:
- Predicting – He had “something important to do.”
- Character Traits – determined, boy with a plan
- Show and Tell Feelings – “Ron felt nervous and his hands felt a little sweaty.”
- One Day happening – going to the library
- Tension – 3 trial solutions prior to getting his library card
- Magic of 3 – “He took a deep breath, lifted his head high, and went inside.”
- Ellipse – end of story
New PES Library book
February 27, 2009
James Rumford stated, “The story of Silent Music was born in the spring of 2003, as Baghdad fell and its citizens struggled to form a new Iraq.”
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad is told in first person by the young character, Ali. He shares what he likes as a boy – soccer, music, and writing. Ali interweaves the challenges of learning the Islamic calligraphy letters to the present day bombings and war in Baghdad. This book would provide some background knowledge for current events.
The illustrations are distinct. I find the background print almost overbearing, yet hold clues from the text. On one page I noticed a United States soldier with some young soccer players. The book gave me a glimpse into the Islamic culture, as did the author’s note in the back.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad:
- Transitions – “But most of all, I love calligraphy –“
- Magic of 3
- Varied sentence lengths
- Words used a a unique part of speech – parent-rattling
- Love of Writing
- Simile – “writing a long sentence is like watching a soccer player in slow motion…“
- Multi-cultural – background knowledge for Baghdad, Iraq and Islamic culture
(Warsaw Public Library)
January 20, 2009
Angela Johnson has a beautiful way of taking a slice of life and creating a text that children connect with. I enjoy using her books with children, as they can see themselves being able to write stories like her. Angela Johnson has taken a snapshot in time on the historical day of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s freedom speech in the book, A Sweet Smell of Roses. This poetic narrative is unique by shedding light that children also marched for their rights.
“But the men and women we commonly hear about are not the only ones who took action against injustice and oppression. For each of the names that we know, there are tens of thousands that we do not. And some of those overlooked names belong to children. A Sweet Smell of Roses is a tribute to them. (author’s note from Angela Johnson)”
The illustrations have been designed with pencils, black and white drawings. On each page, Eric Velasquez adds a bit of red coloring on the ribbon, roses, or the United States flag. I’m not a great interpreter of art, but the red makes me think of contrast. The roses are beautiful yet not without it’s thorns. I would envision having a conversation with your students about the symbolism created in the text. As Ellin Oliver Keene has shared in To Understand, our children often have deeper understanding when given the opportunity to think beyond surface comprehension. If you use the book, I would love to know what discussion arises.
Savorings for reading and in writing for A Sweet Smell of Roses:
- Repeating line – “the sweet smell of roses“
- Book ending the text
- One Day historical event – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech
- Each refrain repeats
- Poetic narrative
November 13, 2008
The age old question from children, “Are we there yet?”, causes parents to just sigh. Even Hollywood jumped on the theme and created movies from it. We can all relate.
Eve Bunting grabbed hold of the question and created a book with a more somber mood. How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story is about a family from the Caribbean who flee the country. The story is told through the oldest son’s viewpoint. Kids can relate. They have listened to their parents whisper in the night like these children. Hopefully, most kids have not had to go through the difficulties that this family goes through.
I believe twe need to teach our chldren to be compassionate to others and to be grateful for what we have. Eve Bunting has created an avenue for discussion on this issue through this book. She has also authored other books around sociological issues. Using picture books, you can promote conversations and provide an avenue for synthesizing the story. (Fly Away Home is another book to share.
Eve Bunting dedicates the book to “The children who came and to Marilyn Carpenter who shared their stories.” I wonder who they are? What I do know is that their stories inspired her to write this book. Share that with your kids.
Side note: I came across a website that has some teacher plans on multiculturalism. It gives more detail that relate to How Many Days to America?: A Thanksgiving Story. http://www.palmbeach.k12.fl.us/Multicultural/curriculum/Haiti/4th%20Days.pdf
Savorings for reading and in writing for How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story:
- Wonderings – How would it feel to leave all your special things behind?
- Inference – “‘I must have your wedding ring’, My father told my mother. (…)She did not speak.”
- Repeating line – “How many days to America?”
- Tension – “We were an hour from shore when the motors stopped.”
- Connection/Compare – “Long ago, unhappy people came here to start new lives.” Compare to the present day settling of the refugees coming to America.