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 25, 2017
by Kara Hagedorn
A heart-warming story of how an injured hawk, no longer able to fly due to a gunshot and broken wing! Sunshine (the Hawk) lays infertile eggs every spring and still attempts to hatch them. Each year her caretaker, Kara (the author), takes the eggs away which confuses Sunshine. One year Kara gets an idea and gets chicken eggs from her neighbor. Sunshine sits on those eggs as if they are her own, hatches them, and then raises the chicks as her own young.
For readers who love Little Pink Pup, Owen and Mzee, and other books that celebrate relationships of unlikely animals, you will love reading this nonfiction picture book.
November 16, 2016
We Are Growing by Laurie Keller
The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat
These books are for you Mo Willems fans! Mo Willems is not adding any more books to his 25 Elephant and Piggie books, but he is working in collaboration with other authors to make similar funny books. These new books are in the “Elephant and Piggie Like Reading” series. Each book starts with a brief intro from Elephant and Piggie and then goes into the hilarious tale written by the author. They still feature dialogue completely in speech bubbles, but each book does offer more than one character. They are written with the same humor that will get kids laughing.
We Are Growing is a great book to teach comparative (adding -er) and superlative (adding -est) adjectives. (i.e. tall – taller – tallest). Each blade of grass has a special trait claiming “I am tall! I am the tallest!” “I am curly! I am the curliest!” But the last piece of grass cannot figure out what makes him special, what makes him unique. Well along comes a loud buzzing noise…you know what this is! And suddenly everyone is back to being the same, but the last blade of grass does determine what his special trait is.
The Cookie Fiasco: How do you share three cookies with four friends? GREAT FRACTIONS LESSON introduced in such a funny way. Hippo has a nervous tick of snapping things when he is feeling overwhelmed. Eventually Hippo has snapped the cookies into enough parts for everyone to share equally. So funny, and such a great intro to any fractions unit!
Use these books to teach:
- Character Traits
- Being Unique
We Are Growing might be a good choice when setting goals for the school year — but that may be a bit of a stretch.
March 14, 2016
A Boy and a Jaguar
by Alan Rabinowitz
Book blurb from the catalog: Presents a picture book featuring the true story of Alan Rabinowitz, who loved the animals at the zoo and hated that they were kept in cages. Wanting to speak out, Alan found he couldn’t keep himself from stuttering, except when talking to animals–a fact he used to his advantage in championing animal rights.
This book would be great to help teach:
- Empathy (understanding Alan’s stuttering)
- Building Classroom Community (how do we treat others who are different than ourselves)
- Biographies (and even a unit on writing autobiographies — picking out a watermelon seed moment instead of one’s entire life)
- Setting goals (Alan says that if he ever gets “his voice” he will speak for the animals, who cannot speak for themselves. This is a lofty goal for a stutterer, but once he does get his voice he follows through with his promise.)
- Research famous people who stutter
This book has a website!