Posts tagged ‘social issues’

125. Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine

under the lemon moonRetell: One evening Rosalinda awakes to find a man stealing lemons from her lemon tree.  During the theft, a branch is broken and the tree becomes sick.  Rosalinda searches her village for a cure.  A mysterious woman helps her cure her sick tree and help a family in need.

Topics: theft, family, community, trees, kindness

Units of Study: Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: empathy, interpretation, inference, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using words to describe sound, using interesting verbs, incorporating foreign languages

My Thoughts: This is a text that can be useful for many units and for many purposes.  As I was reading this text I immediately noticed the beautiful verbs the author uses.  A reader who is unfamiliar with the vocabulary in the text can easily figure out the meaning of the words by thinking about the context.  It’s a great text for teaching the strategy of playing ‘fill in the bank’ when solving tricky words.

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November 7, 2009 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

124. A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting

a picnic in octoberRetell: Each year Tony’s family boards the ferry to Liberty Island at grandma’s insistence.  They brave the crowds and the cold to celebrate a special birthday.

Topics: New York, family, Statue of Liberty, grandparents, immigration

Units of Study: Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: prediction, envisionment, inference, questioning

My Thoughts: This book is typically read during an Immigration unit.  However I don’t think I can wait that long to read this book.  A scene that stuck out for me was the part when Tony helps a young woman who pulls on his jacket, worried that the last boat has left.  Apparently no one has been able to help her because she doesn’t speak English.  Tony is patient with her and through gestures explains that another boat is on the way.  When reading this aloud, I plan on emphasizing this moment and hope it will spark a meaningful discussion about how we can help students who have limited English skills.

This is a great text for modeling expression.  Each character has a distinctive personality which may come out best if the reader creates voices for each character.  For example, Rosa talks in “a reading kind of way” and should sound official (or as we say in conferences “like a teacher”).  Mike seems a bit mischievous and should sound like it.

November 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

118. Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

hawk, I'm your brotherRetell: Rudy Soto yearns to fly.  He climbs up a cliff and captures a young hawk in the hope that he will be able to become brothers with the hawk and thus have a sense of what it means to fly.  Eventually he sets the hawk free and is forever changed.

Topics: hawks, dreams, flying, keeping pets, freedom

Units of Study: Talking and Writing About Texts, Social Issues

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: questioning, inference, interpretation, synthesis

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: Each year the issue of whether or not to get a class pet comes up.  I have mixed feelings about class pets.  I think they can be very useful for studying life cycles and animal habitats, but I don’t like the idea of animals in cages.  I may read this book the next time the issue arises in my classroom.  It will be an essential text during the interpretation unit and could also be an interesting one to read or reread during Social Issues.

When I was looking for images of this book I came across a website with a fantastic resource.  Through the Magic Door is an online bookstore that has put together some fabulous lists of books that may be very useful when making text sets.  Hawk, I’m Your Brother can be found under the list of books that are all about Flying.

October 24, 2009 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

115. Tea With Milk by Allen Say

tea with milkRetell: Masako is a Japanese-American who moves to Japan after spending her childhood in America.  Adjusting to life in Japan is rough for Masako.  She must repeat high school in order to learn Japanese, her classmates call her gaijin (a derogatory word for ‘foreigner’), and she must learn how to be a proper Japanese lady.  One day she boards a bus for Osaka and finds work, a companion and a cure for her homesickness.

Topics: English, Japanese-Americans, homesickness, culture shock, matchmaking, individuality

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Personal Narrative, Memoir

Tribes: right to pass

Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks, thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, prediction, empathy

My Thoughts: I especially enjoy Tea With Milk because I have a personal connection to this book.  I taught English for three years in a rural village in Japan.  I can relate to May and her struggle to get used to sitting on the floor (women are expected to sit on their knees–it’s considered rude to sit cross-legged) and missing comfort foods.  When I read this book I thought of my students who often visit the countries where their parents are from and experience an identity crisis similar to the one that May faced.  I hope that this book inspires them to write their stories.  Though this is technically a personal narrative (the main character was the author’s mother) you could angle this to fit in many different units including the current Character unit.  It’s particularly useful for modeling how readers notice subtle changes in a character.

October 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

114. The Gold Coin by Alma Flor Ada

the gold coinRetell: A thief discovers a woman who claims to be the “richest person in the world.”  He ransacks her hut but fails to find her gold.  He goes on a quest to find the woman and her gold. What he finds instead are people who teach him that being rich has little to do with gold.

Topics: gold, greed, thieves, kindness, hard work, acceptance

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing about Texts

Tribes: mutual respect

Reading Skills: prediction, interpretation, inference, empathy

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: I first discovered this story when I went to a Great Books training years ago.  I’ve since used it a few times during the Character unit.  It is a great text for examining how people can change because of their relationships with other people.  It’s a great text to use when you are launching whole class conversation during and after read alouds.

October 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

112. Allie’s Basketball Dream by Barbara E. Barber

allie's basketball dreamRetell: Allie wants to be a star basketball player like her cousin Gwen.  After receiving a brand-new basketball from her father, she gives it a test run at the neighborhood playground.  She soon finds out that not everyone is willing to accept a girl on the court.

Topics: basketball, gender issues, friendship

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Talking and Writing About Texts, Realistic Fiction

Tribes: mutual respect, personal best, right to pass

Habits of Mind: persisting

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, making connections

Writing Skills: planning  a story across 2-3 scenes

My Thoughts: This book is a great read aloud for so many different units.  It’s a particularly good text to read during the Social Issues unit.  It’s nice to read this book before or after reading other books that deal with gender issues such as,  William’s Doll,  or Oliver Button is a Sissy.  It’s a good mentor text for the Realistic Fiction unit because the story takes place across two scenes.

October 17, 2009 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

111. Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates by Jonah Winter

roberto clementeRetell: This is the rags-to-riches story of Roberto Clemente.  Not only was he an all-star player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was also a humanitarian who donated a great deal of his earnings to charity.

Topics: baseball, Puerto Rico, racism, poetry

Units of Study: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Content-Area

Tribes: personal best, mutual respect

Habits of Mind: persisting, thinking flexibly, striving for accuracy

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, envisionment

Writing Skills: including similes, using commas in lists

My Thoughts: I like sports stories that emphasize the athlete’s character rather than just his/her athletic ability.  This is a good book for showing persistence even in the face of adversity.  The book describes how Clemente grew up playing baseball with a glove made out of a coffee-bean sack and baseballs made from old soup cans.  Written in free verse but organized into two line stanzas, this is a great book to read as a model for students writing nonfiction poetry during the Content-Area unit.

October 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

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