Friday, February 03, 2006

Bibliography of Children's Literature

Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth

Authour: Anne Rockwell

This is a great book about Sojourner Truth that is narrative non-fiction. The book depicts the transformation of Sojourner from slave to self-made woman (meant literally, not materialistically.) As a multi-cultural book, it is written based on facts and as far as gender stereotypes, this book blasts through and traditional thinking one might have. It directly relates to the IRP's for Grade 6 in the Building Community aspect of Language Arts:
It is expected that students will be able to:
describe the diverse ideas, opinions, cultures, and contributions of their peers
acknowledge, honour, and affirm their accomplishments and life events and those of others

David Gets in Trouble

Authour: David Shannon

This book is great for Grade 1 students as it is one that they would be able to read on their own and many of the students would identify with David in the book. It shows family love and that we all need to take responsibility for our own actions.
It is expected that students will be able to:
read silently for short periods of time
identify connections between their thoughts and feelings and their reading, viewing, or listening experiences
identify explicit connections between works that they have read, viewed, or heard

Charlotte's Web

Authour: E.B. White

This book is great for Grade 4 students and would be great to use as a classroom in literature circles. In the literature circle aspect, we would explore the dedication that Charlotte had to Wilbur and the social importance of supporting our fellow humanity.
It is expected that students will be able to:
use strategies, including asking and developing questions, rereading and reading further to develop understanding

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Authour: Lois Ehlert

This book is a great book for Grade 2's. They can read it independently and it has a lot of non-fiction information in the back. It would be a wonderful resource to use in the fall on a unit on fall. A teacher could integrate Science, Language Arts, Fine Arts, and also Social Studies with focus on the maple leaf as a Canadian Symbol. Students will identify with this book and it can help to foster an ecologically-focused thought process. I would use this book in a read and respond format and have students identify their own experiences with fall, trees and leaves.
It is expected that students will be able to:
offer direct responses to their reading, listening, or viewing experiences supported by reasons, examples, and details

Story of the Chinese Zodiac

Authour: Retold by Monica Chang

This story is about the origin of the Chinese Zodiac and is a great resource for the Chinese New Year. It tells the story of the Great Race in which the first twelve animals to cross the finish line would be forever honoured as members of zodiac which would help people to keep track of time. I would use this in grade 3 on an integrated unit about cultural festivals.
It is expected that students will be able to:
use language to acknowledge special events and honour individual and group accomplishments
Multicultural Book

The multicultural book that I chose to anaylze in class was "So Far from the Sea" by Eve Bunting. It was a story about a family who had been relocated during WW2 to a Japanese relocation camp. The family was going to visit the grave of the grandfather before they moved away and say good-bye. (The grandfather had died at the camp.) Although Eve Bunting is not of Japanese descent, she does a great job of writing this book from the family's perspective. Bunting writes a number of books on topics like this and strives to make children think. Her stories are not necessarily feel-good stories and don't typically fairy-tale endings.

What I didn't really like about this book was that gender was very stereotypical. The mother in the family did not have much to say beyond things that were nurturing like "Don't forget your mittens", even though she was in a Japanese relocation camp herself. The gender issue aside, this book was great, the multicultural aspect was well depicted in text as well as illustration.
My Opinion on the Article: Developing Teaching Strategies and the Use of Literature Circles on Nightjohn

This is my way of writing one post on two topics - cutting down on my workload!

Since I didn't read this article before the intended class (and didn't know what a jackdaw was!) I thought I should make comments on it now. I really liked this article. Although I was familiar with most of the strategies, there were some new ones that I now have in my repertoire. The section that I found to be most interesting was pages 269-270. This was the list of alternatives to traditional book reports. Book reports are passe, and do not really help the student to think about more than just what is in the book. The list of alternatives easily translate into great literature circle group activities.

Idea # 8: Select a character from the story and write interview questions for this character. Then, in a literature cirlce, the interviewer could ask the questions of the group. ie.) If you were Sarny, would you think that Nightjohn was crazy when you found out he had been free and had returned to slavery to teach reading? Why or why not. Instead of just interviewing one person, you would have the rest of the circle answer as though they were Sarny. You could have more than one group of interview questioners. (One for Sarny, one for Nightjohn, one for Waller, etc)

Idea #16: Name the story's conflict and ask how the authour could have handled it differently. So, for Nightjohn, the story revolved around his desire to teach other slaves to read as it would bring the slaves further ahead than they were. It was their path to true freedom. The circle would discuss different ways of dealing with the problem.

There are so many different ideas for literature circles out there and I believe that the main thing is to get the students to think critically about a story. Is there more meaning than is at the surface?

Back to the article.... some great ideas to expand on literature in the classroom. Definetly going to do some jackdaws Cathy!
The Case of the Three Robbers

I found this article to be very interesting and really stressed the importance of teachers always taking advantage of teaching opportunities and recognizing internalization.

The authour (Cynthia Ballenger) had been working in a classroom of Haitian preschool children and was trying to inspire them to love reading as she did, but was frustrated because she found that they were constantly interupting her and she struggled to complete any story when reading aloud. Cynthia was not of the Haitian culture, so she lacked understanding of when the students were attending to the story and relating the story to themselves. The students were very involved in a conversation about pepper (piman) that the teacher originally thought was very off-topic, but it turned out that the students were relating the story to their own lives as pepper is a very important spice in their culture that indicates maturity (as it is only for adults.) Once Cindy realized that the students were in all actuality internalizing the story and that they were not off-topic, she was able to take advantage of the available teaching opportunity.

As teachers, the more that we are able to think "outside the box" and "get out of our comfort zone" (to use as many cliches as I can), the more likely we are to understand where our students are coming from. This may present teaching opportunities that will relate the information in a more applicable manner to the students than its original format.
Read-Aloud
The story that I used for my Read-Aloud in class was Tikki Tikki Tembo. For any of you that read my first bog... this was my favourite story as a child and is one that I read to my own son. In my Read-Aloud, I tried to use a lot of voice inflection, which is what I find to be the main aspect that makes the story interesting. The illustrations are also of interest as they are different from traditional North American illustrations. We could use this type of drawing in an art class in an integrated unit.
The story is about two brothers that fall into the same well at different times. The younger brother has a short name so he is pulled out of the well quickly because help is easy to attain. However, the older brother has a long and "honourable" name and because of that, help takes a long time and he was almost drowned. The long and honourable name has to be spoken with respect, but because the younger brother is so tired from running for help, he cannot say it with honour. He has to repeat himself several times before anyone will listen to him, all the while his brother is sitting at the bottom of the well.
As I explained during my Read-Aloud, I would use this storybook in an integrated (Math - Tan Grams; Art - Dragons or Chinese Style Art; Social Studies - China and Chinese New Year; and LA) unit about China, most likely around this time of year, being Chinese New Year. This would be for a primary unit. This book would also be great to use in a literature analysis for upper intermediate grades. These is a lot of debate about this book as it has been touted as a Chinese Fable which prompted Chinese families to give all their sons short names. This has been contradicted by other writers and could be analyzed by students. (*math idea* At the same time, students could anaylze the origins of tan grams as they are often stated as originating in China, but that is also contradicted by some mathematicians.)
Good reading!
Wow - here I am on the last day that the blog is due and I find that I have really struggled with this assignment this semester. I have heard from a number of people that they are just finishing theirs this week as well, unless they worked on it in other classes. Since I don't like to work on coursework from other classes during class, here I am at the last minute trying to complete a semester's worth of blogging. Now, that's honesty for you! So.... check back if you're dying to read what interesting things I'm putting on my blog....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I have many wonderful literature memories as a child. These memories were facilitated by members of my family - my mother, my father and my grandmother. Books were always very special in our family, they were treated with respect and were thought of as a way to escape into a world beyond the one with which we were familiar. I have memories of being read to virtually every night before going to sleep with one parent or another reading to me and involving me in the story by letting me tell parts of it or by asking questions. I don't think my parents realized it at the time (or maybe they did) that they were emphasizing contextual understanding and a love of the printed word. I have funny memories related to literature growing up when I was able to read by myself. I did the thing where I would read until very late in the night with my light under my blankets. I also would sneak a book into the bathroom linen closet and as soon as we would finish a meal, I would go into the bathroom and read until all the dishes were done. This could take as long as half an hour. Needless to say, my mother didn't realize that I was reading and my escapades with the Hardy Boys prompted some nasty dosing of prune juice. It's still something that we laugh about. Not so funny at the time.

As a pre-reader, I was in love with the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and received several books as gifts.

Also, one of my all time favourites was Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. My grandmother would read it to me with such emphasis and it would seem that I was a part of the story. When it came to the time where the old man would go into the well, it was so labourious. When the brother was coming to get his mother and was so tired, my grandmother would pant and heave as though she was exhausted. It is a book that I still remember almost word for word and that I love to read to my own son. He gets so excited when we get to the part of the younger brother and pants with me as though he was the brother himself. It is this emphasis that I think prompted me to love reading and I hope will foster a similar love in my child.