"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, April 28, 2017

ReedALOUD: Lucky Broken Girl

For the past two months a few of my students have been reading and passing along an advanced reader copy of Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar. I am excited to see that students love this book. I am incredibly impressed and think there will be many conversations around this book with its themes of immigration, assimilation, friendship, love, and, of course, overcoming adversity.

"Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times."

One of the cool things about getting an Advanced Reader Copy of a book is the fun of putting it in students hands in a way that differs from a published book that is part of the collection. First, they know that it is not yet published and are privileged to read it and therefore more excited than usual. Second, the students' feedback helps me book talk the book once it is in the collection. Third, and probably coolest, they can treat this book differently, like they can even write in it. I don't do this with all advanced reader copies, but this time, I asked the students to comment and ask questions in the margins while reading the book. I also asked them to write a brief reaction to the book in the back. 

The book is out "traveling" at the moment, but I have some early reactions from the first readers.

What follows are some comments and questions while reading. I plan to bring these early readers together to talk about the book. Given what I am reading, I am looking forward to that conversation.
This student is absolutely correct!

ReedALOUD: OUT OF WONDER and the Fifth Grade Explorers

It was #booklove at first site.  

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, written by Kwame Alexander with Marjory Wentworth and Chris Colderley and illustrated by Ekua Holmes is one of those books that should be in every elementary, middle, and high school library. Its appeal and impact are far-reaching. If the cover is not enough to grab your attention, the design, art and poems surely will. The mixed-media art and original poems weave a canvas that captures the essence of the celebrated poets in ways that are astounding. 

This book is not just a stand alone package, I see multiple ways to connect it with Common Core Curriculum standards as well as with other books and other literacy initiatives. The natural connection lies with any poetry unit or poetry month, but I see a connection with Gene Luen Yang's Reading Without Walls Challenge. As National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, he is encouraging children to: read books about people that don't live like them or look like them; read books in a different genre; and/or, read books about things they don't know. By sharing the poems in Out of Wonder, students are introduced to poetry in a way that engages them and makes them think. They are also introduced to poets whose work they might not know and poets whose lives vary considerably.

In part one, the book focuses on poets whose style was a defining characteristic of their work. I chose to focus on the celebratory poem about Langston Hughes and use this as an opportunity to read from two neighborhoods of our library.
We started by reading Langston's Train Ride by Robert Burleigh:

We stopped before the poem and switched to this recording of The Negro Speaks of Rivers:

And reread the poem in this book:

We then listened to I, Too, sing America:

And reread the poem with this book:

And finished with this book:

With this context and exposure to Langston's Poetry, it was time to turn to Out of Wonder and read Jazz, Jive, Jam by Kwame Alexander. 
And appreciated Ekua's amazing art.
We talked about the poem - its themes and style --  and how Kwame celebrated Langston's work. It was cool stuff.

Who's Got Style? 
Langston's got style and 
Kwame and Ekua have style!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fourth Graders Get Creative with Poetic Form

As part of a poetry unit, the Fourth graders had fun creating Book Spine Poetry and Blackout Poetry. I created this poem to get them started:
They used the iPads to capture their creations. 
I think they did a fabulous job!

And some good old shape and free verse poetry.