Posts tagged ‘memoir’

60. In My Momma’s Kitchen by Jerdine Nolen

in my momma's kitchenRetell: This is a heartwarming collection of small moments that all take place in a family’s kitchen:  a daughter receives a music scholarship, children make up stories, women chitchat and a father makes his signature dish.

Topics: family, community, childhood

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, envisionment, interpretation

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments

My Thoughts: This is a great text to read at different points of the year.  I originally purchased this book thinking it would be a good read aloud for the Personal Narrative unit.  After reading it a second time, I realize that it’s also a great mentor text for the Memoir unit.  Each story is connected by its setting–the kitchen.  Using this text students could try out Nolen’s strategy of thinking of an important place (a room, a park) and write memories associated with that place.  Since this book reads like an anthology of notebook entries, you could use this text when introducing the writer’s notebook.

August 25, 2009 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

59. My Ol’ Man by Patricia Polacco

my ol' manRetell: When she was growing up, Patricia Polacco spent the summers with her father and her grandmother.  In this charming book, Polacco tells the story of the time they found a magical rock that helped them cope with hard times.

Topics: divorce, summer, dads, grandmothers, storytelling, layoffs, magic

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir

Tribes: attentive listening

Habits of Mind: responding with wonderment and awe

Reading Skills: prediction, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using commas in lists, crafting meaningful introductions

My Thoughts: Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite authors and I often read several of her books during the Personal Narrative unit.  Most of her books are inspired by moments, people, and places in her life.  In the beginning of My Ol’ Man, there are authentic photographs from Polacco’s childhood.  This book would be great to read as you are teaching how writers use artifacts to generate notebook entries.  When writing about people, my students often make lists of what they like about a person.  This book will be great to use as a mentor text to help students move from list writing (“My dad likes tacos.  My dad takes me places.) to narrative writing (“One time my dad brought out this book of stamps.  I’ll never forget the time when my dad took me for a ride in his 1947 GMC truck.”)

August 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm 2 comments

50. Home: A Collaboration of Thirty Distinguished Authors and Illustrators of Children’s Books to Aid the Homeless

homeRetell: An anthology of poetry and prose all based on the subject ‘home’.  Many famous writers and illustrators contributed pieces such as:  Virginia Hamilton, Aliki, Jon Sciszka, Jane Yolen and more.

Topics: home, hiding places, family, children

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir, Launching the Reading Workshop

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly, creating-imagining-innovating

Reading Skills: making connections, envisionment, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments, using sensory details

My Thoughts: This is a handy resource for the Personal Narrative unit.  Many of the poems and stories within the anthology will be great ‘small moment’ mentor texts.  Home contains some great pieces that will encourage students as they author their independent reading lives.  The story “Comfortable Old Chair” by Karla Kuskin features a girl who loves reading in her favorite chair.  In the poem, “Elevator” Lucille Clifton describes a girl who reads in the corner of her building’s elevator.  I plan on using these pieces to show how dedicated readers take charge of their lives at home and find a place that’s entirely theirs.  I knew a student who used to have trouble finding a quiet space to read in his crowded apartment.  He started scheduling bathroom reading time.  He would bring in pillows, blankets and books and make a comfy reading spot in the bathtub.

August 16, 2009 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

27. The Road to Santiago by D.H. Figueredo

the road to santiagoRetell: Every year Figueredo and his family return to Santiago, Cuba for Christmas.  When calls for revolution sounded throughout Cuba the author recalls how his family almost didn’t make it home for his favorite holiday.

Topics: Cuba, Christmas, rebels, family, kindness of strangers, traditions

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir, Historical Fiction

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Reading Skills: making connections, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: zooming in on small moments, incorporating vocabulary from another language, generating notebook ideas

My Thoughts: A common thread thoughout the story is kindness.  Each scene highlights how people were kind to the author’s family:  a mill worker helps them fix a flat tire, a young man gives up his seat on the bus. Though this is technically a personal narrative I could see reading this book during a unit on writing historical fiction.  The story takes place during the 1950s revolutionary period in Cuba.  He threads details of the time period throughout the story making this a good historical fiction mentor text.

July 23, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

22. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

wilfrid gordon mcdonald partridgeRetell: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge enjoys visiting the old people’s home located next door to his house.  He especially loves visiting Miss Nancy.  When his parents tell him that she has lost her memory, Wilfrid searches for items that may help her remember.

Topics: memories, alzheimer’s disease, small moments, friendship, memory loss

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Memoir, Realistic Fiction

Reading Skills: inference, making connections

Writing Skills: keeping a writer’s notebook, using objects to get ideas for notebook entries, writing endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: This is the book that I’m going to read when I introduce the concept that writer’s can get ideas for notebook entries by looking at objects.  Mem Fox is the author of several excellent books for children.  She is an advocate for reading aloud and provides videos, recordings, and tips for reading aloud on her website.  Also included on her site is a “stories behind the stories” section where she discusses her inspiration for each of her books.  Check out her website:  http://www.memfox.com/welcome.html

July 18, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

17. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Grandfather's JourneyRetell: Allen Say tells the story of how his grandfather made a home in both a village in Japan and in a city in America.

Topics: grandparents, journeys, San Francisco, Japan, World War II, California, travelling, home, being homesick, family

Units of Study: Memoir, Social Issues

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation, inference, making connections

Writing Skills: adding setting details, developing the heart of a story, including reflection, including endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I think I have a soft spot in my heart for this book because I too get homesick for more than one place.  Allen Say’s illustrations remind me of faded photographs and automatically put me into a reflective, sentimental mood.  This is a perfect text to use during the Memoir unit.  Though it starts out as a story about his grandfather, it ends up being more about the author himself.

July 13, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

12. Families are Different by Nina Pellegrini

families are differentRetell: Nico is an adopted girl from Korea who begins to feel different from her friends because she doesn’t resemble her parents.  After closer observation, Nico realizes that there are many different types of families.

Topics: adoption, divorce, families

Units of Study: memoir, personal narrative, social issues

Tribes: appreciations/no putdowns (appreciating our loved ones), mutual respect

Reading Skills: making connections

Writing Skills: developing the heart of a story

My Thoughts: Do not expect subtlety when reading this book.  The title hits you over the head with the book’s message.  I can’t imagine using this book for higher level reading work.  However, I think it could be a good mentor text when teaching writers to revise by developing the heart of a story.  Families are Different is written in a style similar to some of the notebook entries my students tend to write:  “Hello, my name is______.  I live in ______.  I’m going to tell you all about my friends.”  Halfway through the story, however the narrator begins to reveal some of her thoughts and emotions about being adopted.  I can see reading this story and asking students to identify when the author started getting to the heart of the story.  I would also read this during a community circle to encourage discussion about respecting differences.

July 8, 2009 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

7. Guys Write for Guys Read

guys readRetell: Jon Scieszka edits this fabulous collection of stories, comics, essays, illustrations and vignettes contributed by prominent male authors and illustrators.  Contributors include:  Stephen King, Matt Groening, Jerry Spinelli, Seymour Simon, James Howe, Neil Gaiman, Gary Paulsen and many more.  Royalties from the book are used to support Scieszka’s Guys Read Program.

Topics: boys, family, growing up, reading, writing, art

Units of Study: Personal Narrative, Launching the Reading and Writing Workshop, Character, Personal Essay, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Nonfiction, Memoir, Social Issues, Fantasy, Preparing for the ELA

Tribes: Mutual Respect, Personal Best, Appreciations/No Putdowns, Right to Pass

Reading Skills: inference, making connections, interpretation

Writing Skills: writing with voice, zooming in on a small moment, observing the world for stories

My Thoughts: This book is teacher gold!  Guys Write for Guys Read has a plethora of short stories that can be used for mentor texts in almost every Reading and Writing unit.  One of the stories, “Reading Can Be Dangerous” by Tedd Arnold was featured on the 5th grade ELA test last year.  James Howe, author of Bunnicula, writes a personal narrative about getting help from a friend on how to be a boy–a great text for personal essay or discussing gender issues.  Many authors write about how they came to love reading and writing.  Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, writes about how he fell in love with fantasy–great to read when you launch a unit on Fantasy reading and writing.  Patrick Jones, a librarian, writes about how being interested in wrestling inspired him to become a voracious reader.  Many entries include samples of famous authors childhood work alongside their adult work.  For example, Dav Pilkey, author/illustrator of the infamous Captain Underpants series, writes about a comic strip he started when he was 11.  I will probably use this book for almost every unit I teach this year.

If you don’t pick up a copy of this book you must go to Scieska’s website, Guys Read.  The site is dedicated to inspiring more young boys to fall in love with reading.  Mr. Scieszka, you’re my hero.

July 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm 4 comments

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