The Day You Begin

October 17, 2018

by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by Rafael Lopez

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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.

 

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Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens

October 25, 2017

by Kara Hagedorn

Image result for hawk mother the story of a red tailed hawk who hatched chickens

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.


A Piece of Home

September 26, 2017

by Jeri Watts
Illustrated by Hyewon Yum

From the book jacket: Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia.  He struggles to adjust to his new home, where none of his classmates look like him and he can’t understand anything the teacher says — even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly to him.  Little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English and make friends.  One day, when he is invited to a friend’s house for the first time, he sees a flower he recognizes from his grandmother’s garden in Korea: mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him it’s called in America.  He brings a shoot to his grandmother, who plants the “piece of home” in their new garden.

This picture book is a perfect read aloud for any teacher who has an ELL student in his/her classroom.  The words and pictures describe the struggles the students (Hee Jun and his sister Se Ra) have at school while adjusting to America.

It opens the readers’ eyes to the fact that just because someone doesn’t know English does not mean that they were not well respected in their home country.   In this book, grandmother, is a well-respected teacher, regarded as a “wise and wonderful teacher” and she stands proud with her “shoulders erect.” But when she is in America she knows no English, has no job, and “she does not hold her shoulders erect and her eyes don’t gleam — not at all.” The illustrations perfectly depict these stark differences in emotions.

Use this book in a compare/contrast lesson with Eve Bunting’s One Green Apple.

Other ideas:

–learn vocabulary through context clues and illustrations

–metacognition–How does your thinking change as the book progresses?

 


We Are Growing AND The Cookie Fiasco

November 16, 2016

We Are Growing by Laurie Keller
The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

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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:

  • Adjectives
  • Character Traits
  • Being Unique
  • FRACTIONS!
  • Sharing

We Are Growing might be a good choice when setting goals for the school year — but that may be a bit of a stretch.


Wild About Us!

March 14, 2016

Wild About Us
Written by Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by Janet Stevens

Book blurb from catalog: A group of animals at the zoo share the unique characteristics they like about themselves and one another.

This book would be great to help teach:

  • Differences
  • Acceptance
  • Building a Classroom Community
  • Positive Body Image

Excerpt from the book: “I’m Warty Warthog!  Can’t be who I’m not.  I am who I am and I’ve got what I’ve Got.  I have tusks!  I have warts!  But5 I like what I see!  In my own special way, I’m as cute as can be.  Yessirree!  We are all the way we are all meant to be!”


A Boy and A Jaguar

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
    http://www.flreads.org/Book_Award/extensions/BoyAndJaguar.htm

This book has a website!
http://hmhbooks.com/boyandajaguar/

 


Separate is Never Equal

January 5, 2016

Separate is Never Equal

Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

by Duncan Tonatiuh

Book Blurb: Describes how the Hispanic American Mendez family challenged the segregated California school system in 1947 after their daughter Sylvia was denied entry to Westminster School due to her ethnicity. Includes an author’s note, photographs, and a glossary.

Robert F Sibert Honor Medal for outstanding nonfiction
Pura Belpre Honor Medal for an outstanding Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth

This book is a great supplement to units on:

  • Civil Rights
  • Martin Luther King Jr. study
  • Discrimination
  • Brown vs. Board of Education
  • Latino Americans
  • Acceptance

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming soon, consider this book for a read aloud experience in 3rd – 5th grade!