October 17, 2018
by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
Discussion questions and activity from the Teacher Guide:
Dive in & Discuss
1. Have you ever walked into a room full of people who seemed different than you? How did you
feel? What made you feel that way? Discuss your feelings and how they changed as time passed.
2. What is something that makes you unique? Is it a positive or negative trait? How can you turn
this trait into your new beginning?
3. What is diversity? Create a kid-friendly definition and post it in the classroom. Why is it important
to have conversations about diversity? How might people with differences in ability, culture, race,
gender or wealth/money feel when they are in a group that seems different from them?
Who’s in the Room?
This would be a great first day of school activity or one to use any time your class is entering a new
situation and meeting new people. After reading The Day You Begin, lead the class in a discussion
about what information is important to know when you meet someone new. What things do you learn
about each of the characters in the book as they reveal themselves to one another? What would you ask
someone when you meet them for the first time? Generate a list of questions that the class feels will
help them get to know their classmates. Encourage them to think of a few questions that will help them
dig a little deeper when they interview their peers during the activity. Partner students and ask them
to interview each other. Have them list all of the answers that they have in common as well as their
differences. A Venn diagram is a great graphic organizer to use with this activity. At the conclusion of
the interviews ask students to introduce their partner to the class. They can choose the most interesting
parts of their conversation to share. Finally, ask the class if there is a character from the book that they
relate to and, if they are comfortable sharing, to explain why.
October 17, 2018
by Minh Le
illustrated by Dan Santat, Caldecott Artist 2015 (Adventures of Beekle)
A boy and his grandfather cross a language and cultural barrier using their shared love of art, storytelling, and fantasy.
Starting out as a wordless picture book, you meet a boy and his grandfather. They seem to have nothing in common until they boy gets bored and pulls out his art supplies. Then a whole new world opens up as the boy draws and the grandpa draws, building “a new world that even words can’t describe.”
- Mentor text for illustrations telling details from the story
- Discussion starter: language barriers
An introspective look by other educators:
September 11, 2017
How to Survive as a Firefly
by Kristen Foote
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo
Did you know that fireflies only live as adults for 5-30 days?
Drill Sergeant Firefly is tasked with teaching the firefly larvae all they need to know to survive their life cycle. And he must accomplish this task quickly, before he dies.
Told in a comical dialogue, readers learn about metamorphosis, the firefly life cycle, bioluminescence, and everything you could possibly want to know about fireflies!
Looking for a way to spice up your how tos?
Looking for a possible project using coding, incorporating life cycles?
Looking for a mentor text that shows a comical voice?
Just looking for a good read?
This is the book for you!
November 21, 2016
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Looking for a great folktale?
This picture book explains the creation of two volcanoes found 40 miles southeast of Mexico City. Expand your teaching to show where Mexico City is on a map, and show photographs of the two volcanoes. Itza is known as “la mujer dormida” and is an inactive volcano. Popo sits next to Itza and has errupted as recently as 2013.
Catalog blurb: Daughter of the emperor, Izta has no desire to marry a wealthy, powerful man like she’s supposed to. Instead, she has her eye on Popoca, a warrior. Izta’s father agrees to allow the marriage if Popoca can defeat Jaguar Claw, the ultimate enemy.
This book would be great to teach
- Problem and Solution
- Beginning, Middle, and End
- Context Clues (there are a lot of Spanish words in this book that are not directly defined)
April 28, 2016
Yes, this is a search-and-find book.
But, not in the typical “only find the elephant” kind of way.
This book introduces three characters: the elephant, the parrot, and the snake. The remainder of the book is wordless where the reader encounters the animals’ habitat constantly shrinking due to deforestation. Progressively, the animals become easier and easier to find.
Put this in your plans to use next year to compliment any environmental awareness unit or a great discussion starter on Earth Day!