by Kelly VirginIn the first chapter of Dear Martin by Nic Stone Justyce McAllister, an Ivy League bound, black teenager, is handcuffed and detained by the police when they mistakenly assume he is up to something as he attempts to keep his drunk and slightly belligerent ex-girlfriend from driving herself home. This incident is understandably jarring for the teen and he thinks to himself:
Yeah, there are no more “colored” water fountains, and it’s supposed to be illegal to discriminate, but if I can be forced to sit on the concrete in too-tight cuffs when I’ve done nothing wrong, it’s clear there’s an issue. That things aren’t as equal as folks say they are.
In an attempt to come to terms with the experience and to deal with the pressures he feels from the neighborhood he managed to escape and the prep school he doesn’t entirely fit into, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, tragedy strikes his life and he starts to question whether Dr. King’s teachings still apply to the world we live in today. Read more
By Lynne R. Dorfman
Different languages, different food, different customs. That’s our neighborhood: wild and tangled and colorful. Like the best kind of garden. (p. 54)
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is an amazing book told from the viewpoint of a red oak tree. Red is a city tree that has lived for 216 years (she has 216 rings). She’s also known as the wishtree, and on the first of May, people of all ages come to tie rags, tags, and even the occasional gym sock to her limbs with wishes scribbled on them. Red is an optimist and has strong opinions about things. Bongo, a pessimistic crow and a loyal friend, are two of the main characters along with Samar, a ten year old Muslim girl. Red is home to owlets, possums, raccoons and skunks. They talk with one another, but nature has one rule: Don’t talk to people. Read more
by Linda Walker
Oh my gosh! I went solo for preschool storytime and I survived. I brought out one of my grandson’s favorite books The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. What a great way to draw in the listener. The reader speaks directly to a young audience by asking , “Hello, little Mouse. What are you doing?” The simple text and large colorful illustrations encouraged childen to make predictions and discover cause and effect relationships.
Of course any storytime should include partcipation and what better way than going on a bear hunt. Read more
by Linda Walker
Choosing a book to review can sometimes be a challenge because there are just so many interesting titles. I will admit the reason I chose The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel is not for the engaging title but because the witch caricature has a distinct resemblance to me and green is my favorite color. This book is a fantasy which would interest grades 3-5.
As a baby, Mabel was abandoned by her birth mother. She was nestled into a large terra-cotta flowerpot at the doorstep of Nora Ratcliff. Nora raises the child as her own. Soon it becomes obvious that Mable has some unusual talents; lifting off the ground, sending objects swirling through the air, making things change color.
by Linda Walker
New Year’s Eve 2016 my husband and I enjoyed the company of our two young grandchildren. My granddaughter brought along her digital camera to document the evening. She snapped photos of balloons, streamers, noise makers and Grandad wearing a silly hat and an even sillier expression. While driving to the local pizza parlor for our dinner, she and I stopped at several places to snap some more pictures: the local high school her mom attended, the water tower, and several nighttime shots of the Domino pizza sign just to verify that yes, we did eat something other than chips and dip. Later we talked about how much fun it was to go back and relive the night through her photos. Days after I began to think about how those captured digital moments could become the springboard for poetry writing. This idea led me to search for poetry books with photographs as a medium. And that is how I discovered April Pulley Sayre. Read more
by Sharon Williams
Each year I teach a historical fiction reading unit in the reading workshop format. Students are offered 14 titles to choose from and are paired with other students who pick the same title. When our grade level team of LA teachers first began teaching this unit, we had a limited number of novels from which our students could choose. Past practice found the LA teachers spending time combing through internet searches for historical fiction novels to add to our repertoire.
Last year, upon finishing our unit, I encouraged my students to do a bit of searching on their own to find a historical fiction novel to use for their independent reading and to report back to me any titles they found to be outstanding. I had a few students take me up on this challenge, and I have spent some time reading their recommendations over the past few months. One novel that a student had deemed a worthy read was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Read more