This month was a bit of a mishmash as I put together some of the books leftover from previous themes. I'll be touching on specific themes later -- Black History Month, Women's History Month, Earth Day/Environmentalism/Spring, etc. Some of the books for the older grades were poetry or non-fiction, so I recommended selections to be read and discussed during the session. I also got a lot of feedback this month, so I held off on publishing this post until I could add those notes.
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson
(before reading) Where does water come from? How does it get to us?
Who needs water? What would happen if it went away?
What are some ways to save or conserve water? (kids may need help with the concept)
Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin
Has anyone here ever moved from where they live? What did you pack? How did you get to your new home?
If Zoo Sap was born in the spring, and the book takes place in winter, how old is he? (review months of the year and estimate when seasons begin and end)
What would you do if a younger brother or sister or cousin got lost? What would your family do?
Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda
Why were people frightened of Abuela? How did the teasing change how she behaved? How do you think she felt?
How old do you think Esperanza is? What do you think of her job in the marketplace? What would you have done in her place?
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
(before reading, talk about family traditions, and how they might stay the same or change over many years)
Why was the quilt so important to Anna’s family?
How many generations used the quilt? Can you go back that far in your own family? Do you have anything that old?
Were this family’s traditions always the same? What changed? Why do you think it happened?
The Boy Who Didn’t Want to be Sad by Rob Goldblatt
Why didn’t the boy’s plan work?
What are some things that make you happy? Do you think they could ever make you sad?
How do you feel when you are sad? What do you do? Can you help yourself be happy again? Can you help someone else be happy?
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
What are some of your favorite family traditions or celebrations? What do you do? Do you eat any special food?
What does Marisa’s grandmother mean when she says their family has “more spice” because they are “all mixed up”?
What does Marisa think about her dumplings? What do her family members think? How do you know?
Amazing Faces, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
(read “Amazing Face”)
Who is speaking in the poem? To whom? How do you know? (if there were no illustration, how will you know?)
(read “High in the Sky”)
Where do you go to have quiet thinking time? What can you see from there?
(read “Miss Stone”)
How do you think the narrator feels at the beginning of the poem? How does that change? Why?
Why do you think Miss Stone asked for company?
The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez
What are some things you can do at the library?
Who goes to the library?
Do you think your public library has books in Spanish? What about other languages? (If you don’t know... how could you find out??)
The reader for this class tells me that the kids really liked the "make a wish and blow out the candle at the end of the story" part, and he's thinking about including that for every month going forward.
Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser
(before reading, review the definition of an immigrant and why people might come to live in the US)
Why did people think that Emma shouldn’t spend time with poorer people? Were they right?
What ideas does the Statue of Liberty stand for?
4 / 5
This Child, Every Child by David J. Smith
(read “Children and their Families”)
What are some of the challenges of both the kinds of families you read about? How are they like your own family?
(read “Children at School”)
What are some of the great things about coming to school?
Can you imagine NOT having to go to school? What would you do instead?
Do you wonder how school would be different if there were no girls?
(read “Children at Play”)
What are your favorite games? Do you play outside? Do you play on the Internet?
There were a lot of statistics in these sections, which was not as fun or engaging as narrative - it seemed advisable to take it in small chunks and discuss aspects that the kids would understand from their own lives. This reader requested more fiction (and not a "downer" like last month's An Angel for Solomon Singer) -- which is hard to find for a mixed 4th and 5th grade! They aren't quite advanced enough, usually, to appreciate the Picturebooks for Older Readers I covered last summer, but they're easily bored or insulted by "easy books". Anyone have ideas?
If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith
What are some languages you hear all the time?
What languages would you be interested in learning?
How many languages do you currently speak?
(read “Air and Water”)
How do you use water? How do you get it? Can you imagine how hard it would be if you didn’t have clean water every day? What if your air quality wasn’t very good?
(read “Money and Possessions”)
What are the needs that can’t be met by families that don’t make very much? How can things be made more fair?
The reader for this class was surprised by the wealth of languages represented by the students. (The school report from a few years ago notes that about 8% of the students are enrolled in an English Language Learner program.) When they discussed economics, the kids remembered reading about microloans in One Hen previously.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. (I was already pointing people at Amazon, so this seemed like a logical step. Still my own opinions! Buy anywhere you like, or head to your local library.)