Posts tagged ‘questioning’

39. Mama Loves Me From Away by Pat Brisson

mama loves me from awayRetell: Sugar and her mama share the same birthday.  Sugar enjoys listening to her mother’s stories.  She especially misses them now that her mother is in prison.  Her mother finds a way to share her stories even from far away.

Topics: mothers, families, prison, stories, birthdays

Units of Study: Social Issues, Personal Narratives, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: attentive listening

Reading Skills: interpretation, questioning, empathy

Writing Skills: writing with a balance of description and reflection, keeping a writers notebook

My Thoughts: This is a moving story about a girl who is dealing with the fact that her mother is imprisoned.  There aren’t many published stories like this in the world.  It’s a great model to use when you teach your students to write about stories you wish belonged in the world–the ones that show aspects of your life or struggles you are going through.  The author never reveals what the mother did to land her in prison which I think is a nice touch.  The book isn’t about the mother, but about how much her daughter misses her.

August 4, 2009 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

30. A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

a young people's history of the united statesRetell: Like the title suggests, this is a young people’s version of his famous book, A People’s History of the United States. Together with Rebecca Stefoff, Zinn manages to tell a version of history that attempts to include the perspectives of groups that are usually left out (women, people of color, Native people, children, etc.)

Topics: United States, history, exploration, racism, slavery, colonialism, rights, justice, revolution, war, emancipation, industrialization, immigration, empire, protests, terrorism, resistance, freedom of speech

Units of Study: Content Area, Nonfiction, Social Issues, Personal Essay, Historical Fiction

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: questioning, synthesis, prediction, determining importance, inference, interpretation

Writing Skills: using evidence to support a thesis or main idea, inserting anecdotes and quotations

My Thoughts: I was so thrilled to find this book on the shelves.  I read A People’s History of the United States several years ago and often reread sections before embarking on Social Studies units.  Though I thought this book was going to present a child’s perspective of historical events, Zinn does manage to tuck in a few stories of young people working to make a difference.  For example, he includes the story about how children started the first milll strike in Paterson, New Jersey.  I intend to read aloud exerpts from this book to support and/or challenge what they may be reading in their own nonfiction texts.  This book is also available in two volumes.  Volume I covers Columbus to the Spanish-American War.  Volume II covers World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

July 26, 2009 at 9:07 am 1 comment

28. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter

the librarian of basraRetell: This is the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker.  During U.S. air raids in 2003, Baker managed to hide and save over 30,000 books from destruction.

Topics: libraries, Iraq, heroism, action, war, books, community

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Content-Area Reading and Writing, Journalism

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best

Reading Skills: prediction, questioning

Writing Skills: using dashes

My Thoughts: Stories like this one restores my faith in humanity.  Alia Muhammad Baker’s story is a great one to share with kids, many whom don’t even know that the U.S. is involved in two wars at the moment.  Her story was originally published back in 2003 in the The New York Times.  Reading The Librarian of Basra in conjunction with the The New York Times article could be a great way to emphasize the role of a journalist to bring to light stories that would otherwise go unnoticed.  I plan on reading this at the beginning of the year to reiterate the importance of reading. 

Click her to read Shaila K. Dewan’s 2003 New York Times article about Alia Muhammad Baker

July 24, 2009 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

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