This is a piece based on what the class has learned about trauma and how it can affect a child. This is a personal look on how I believe trauma impacts a child’s life, and how I might try and help a child with it.
Trauma Informed Teaching
Trauma is an unfortunate part of life, even more so when it happens to students. It is something that can completely derail a child’s life. And unfortunately, it is prevalent in all walks of life and comes in a variety of different forms. One of these forms can take the shape of poverty. This is an issue that a child, and sometimes their family, cannot control, yet it still impacts them greatly. A student who is living in poverty is unable to afford many of the essentials of life, including; food, clothes, and other necessities. Not only that, but impoverished areas also tend to have more violence and instability, which can also contribute to trauma. Without the essentials of life and a sense of security and safety, child will not be able to preform their best in school. This inability to excel in school manifests in a multitude of different forms, such as an unwillingness to participate, an inability to focus or really absorb information, and even result in aggression at times.
I have actually worked with a student with poverty related trauma and can attest to these ideas. He, the sweetest young man I have even seen, could not for the life of him focus in school. Not only was he always tired or focused on something else, in this case worrying about his mother and how she did not have a job or how they did not have a stable home, but he was also absent repeatedly which further hindered his learning. Usually the absences were health related as well, another result of not having all the essentials he needed. Unfortunately, he moved to a different school before anything could really done to help his situation, but I do hope that he is getting the support that he needs to be successful and get the knowledge he needs to succeed in life.
Another issue surrounding children with trauma could be from violence in the home. This can affect the child similarly how poverty can. Depending on the exact situation, the child could have physical or mental issues, or both, and that affects their work in class. They can lash out in anger and replicate the violence they see, perhaps as a result of not feeling safe at home and unable to feel safe anywhere else. They could also preform poorly with social or academic marks as a result of such trauma. Not matter the actual effect though, it is something that can greatly hinder a student and stunt their development as a person over all.
Personally, I have witnessed this sort of trauma with a student from a class I had no connection to. I had been shadowing the principal when we went to a class to try and calm down a student who was reacting with aggression towards an assignment that he did not want to do. It turned out that he was not feeling well, a result of his mother’s new boyfriend hitting him, and could not care to even attempt his classwork as he was clearly overwhelmed. He was escorted to the nurse’s office and a counselor came to help, though I am sad to say I do not know the specifics or the result of the confrontation.
Although I hope that none of my future students have to experience trauma like I have talked about earlier, I will definitely try and support them should they be going through it. For one, I will work my hardest to be aware of anything that might be happening to a child. It is key to not just assume that a student is a bad student if there is a problem and I will do my best to try and watch out for and be open to the idea that sometimes, children are going through more than we think. I will also do my best to be open with a student who has showcased trauma. I will do my best to make them aware that I am there for them should they ever need anyone to talk to or just need someone to be there. Though, I will also need to be aware of a student’s comfort and work at their pace, not at a pace I want to. I will also do my best to inform my class, as a whole, about trauma or experiences that are not good, but do happen. I will work on trying to build empathy with my students, without singling out anyone, so that they can better understand a classmate who might be different or act strangely because of something that has happened. As a whole for the school community, I will try to help and inform other teachers about trauma in hopes that they too can try and take an understanding approach when working with a student who has an issue. Hopefully, these students will better understand what is happening in their lives, as well as that at school, there is a supportive, caring family that is there for them when they need it.
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators. (2008). Retrieved from https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u57/2013/child-trauma-toolkit.pdf
Above is a link to an article, created by the US Department of Health and Human Services, that I could use to help benefit children who have suffered through trauma. It offers a multitude of insights on not only what to do to try and help a student in need because of trauma based situations, but also what trauma can look like in its different forms and in children off all different ages. I could use it to be able to better pinpoint and be aware of what trauma based behaviors in children might look like, thus being able to intervene and help them sooner. It would also act to help children because it would allow me to have, in my own resources, more strategies and approaches that I could use to help a child try and cope with whatever issues they are dealing with. It would allow for a more diverse set of ideas that I could use in case the first attempt I make to help a student does not go as planned. Overall, this resource will let me help the children and benefit their well being because it will help me to better understand what to do and what to look out for.
This is a collection of various children’s books and a general description of each. This is a handy little tool that I can use for my future classroom when I am looking for different, appropriate sorts of books to share with the class.
Title: Kitten’s First Full Moon
Author: Kevin Henkes
Summary: This is a picture book for younger readers that stars a little kitten. One evening, she sees her first full moon and mistakes it for bowl of fresh milk. Not wanting to miss out on such a treat, she tries to reach for it, but finds that she can never reach it. Still, the kitten does not give up and throughout the story, she embarks on an adventure to reach the milk. She gets herself into a lot of trouble before finally deciding to give up and go home. As she returns home, though, she finds a bowl of milk waiting for her and so she happily partakes before falling asleep in the end.
OWL – Observe: The illustrations in the book play a big role the story. In them, I noticed that the stark black and white used really helped show that it was indeed night. And while they are not very colorful, the boldness and contrast helps to make each picture interesting and draws the reader’s eyes to them.
Diversity: This book is non-applicable for cultural assignment because it focuses only on a small kitten and her adventure without touching on any specific culture or cultures.
Title: Last Stop on Market Street
Author: Matt de la Pena
Summary: The story begins with a young boy, CJ, and his grandmother as they leave church. The pair head to the bus stop and board the bus as CJ asks why they do not have certain things to which his nana replies with why would they need them. As they travel onboard, the pair interact with a multitude of unique people. Still, CJ questions his nana, though as they finally get off of the bus and walk down the street towards the food kitchen, he realizes that sometimes it is best not to ask way. He realizes that sometimes it is best just to be grateful for what you have and do. At the end he and his nana help serve food to the homeless who need and he is glad that he was there.
OWL – Link: I can connect to this story on a personal level. There was one point in my childhood when my family had little money for anything that was not necessary and so I would often ask why I could not have things that other children did. And like CJ, I have come to realize that sometimes it is not about what you want, but what you do is what really matters.
Diversity: This is book is most definitely culturally neutral. Throughout the book many different people from all walks of life are present. Everyone interacts with each other and the story does not focus solely on one certain cultural group.
Title: Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me
Author: Daniel Beaty
Summary: A young boy has grown accustom to spending each morning with his loving father. However, one day his father never comes to get him up and spend time with him. This results in the boy becoming understandably distressed and he writes his father a heartfelt letter asking him to come home. To his dismay, his father writes back that he is unable to return home. He goes on to explain to his son that it is alright though because as long as he does his best, he will always have his father with him. And so knowing that, the boy lives the best that he can. He grows into a fine young man with a life to be proud of and a love for his father despite the other being gone.
OWL – Link: I am not really sure why, but this book had me in tears when reading it. I cannot relate to someone whose father is not in their life, but still the very idea struck me deeply. I believe it might be because I hold my own father in such high regards and I love him dearly. I simple could not imagine a life without him and it makes me sad to know that such a thing is not reality for others in the world.
Diversity: This book is culturally generic. Especially with the illustrations, it focuses on an African American family. But, it does not necessarily focus on something specifically in African American culture because children of all backgrounds can grow up without their fathers there for them and everyone can grow up to be the best that they can be.
Title: The Victory Garden Vegetable Alphabet Book
Author: Jerry Pallotta and Bob Thomson
Summary: This is a simple book that uses the familiar concept of the alphabet to introduce gardening and vegetable organization to young readers. It starts with each letter, both in its capital and lower case forms, and then follows up with a vegetable that starts with that letter before going on to give details about the plant. This is done for each of the twenty-six letters. The purpose of the book was less to actually teach the alphabet and more of something that uses its familiarity as a tool to teach about a potentially less known subject to kids, gardening.
OWL – Observe: This book, while an older children’s book, seems to do a good job about teaching kids two lessons in one. They get to learn their alphabet while at the same time getting to learn about the different types of vegetables that they can find within a garden.
Diversity: For the most part this book is culturally neutral. There are plenty of different kinds of children depicted in the book, but it is never the focus of attention. It simply shows that anyone can learn how to garden.
Title: Save Me a Seat
Author: Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Summary: This realistic fiction piece follows the story of two boys as they begin their school year as fifth graders. Each of the two boys, Ravi and Joe, have different, alternating chapters with their own perspective told in it. It begins with the first day of school which is a challenge for both of them, Ravi because he is trying to adjust to life in America compared to India, and Joe because of a learning disability related to his hearing and a personal bully. The two of them hardly get along for most of the book, usually just focusing on their own problems. For example, most of the book, Ravi wants to be prove he is smart to the rest of the class, but keeps failing because of how different things in the US are. Joe on the other hand tries to deal with the stress that is brought on by his bully, the cool kid Dillon, his mom working at his school, and his hearing sensitivity. But before long, Dillon picks on Ravi as well. The two of them are left feeling terrible for their own reasons and are only able to pick themselves back up with the love and support of their families. The story ends with a class presentation in which Ravi and Joe get back at Dillon for his bullying with a loose lidded jar of leeches. It concludes before we really see their friendship form, but it leaves us with a sense that it will be a strong one and Ravi and Joe will be good friends for a long time.
OWL – Wonder: After reading the story, I find myself completely enthralled by the thought of visiting India. The culture is so different and rich. However, I know I will not be visiting such a place any time soon and so I wonder if there are any other books, particularly children’s books, that focus on India that I, and maybe my class one day, could read.
Diversity: This book is culturally specific. Throughout the whole story, the reader is immersed into two very distinct cultures, the average American culture and a less known, at least in the United States, Indian culture. For both, the book talks about what happens in the daily lives of the boys who are a part of the culture while also touching on their traditions and the contrast between the two.
Author: R.J. Palacio
Summary: This book follows the life of a child with a physical deformity of the face named August. It focuses on his life as he begins his first year attending a real school, much to August’s dismay, and as he enters the fifth grade. The story focuses mostly on August as he adjusts to life in a school and how he deals with all of the challenges that having a deformity like his brings. He starts off being the outcast and not really having any friends save for the ever kind Summer who he meets on the first day of school and another boy named Jack who has a rocky relationship with August in the beginning. Eventually though, he begins to adjust and manages his day to day life with the help of his new friends and his family. Though being friends with August comes at a price as Jack is ostracized by the other boys and a ‘war’ breaks out between him and the fifth grade bully, Julian. This eventually gets stale for the fifth graders though and most of them give it up, leaving August and Jack to let their friendship grow in relative peace save for Julian who refuses to give up. Things continue on as August faces problems at home and with his family, such as their dog passing away and his sister wanting some sort of normalcy in her life, but he manages to overcome these obstacles and carry on with managing his life. The climax of the book comes when the fifth graders go on a trip to a nature retreat. There, August is singled out by a group from another school and bullied. Aid comes in the form of Jack and the other boys from his grade, who stick up for him and get him out of the situation. This is where things shift, and August and the rest of the school come to find that they do care for him. He is more than just a burden or a strange kid. He is a part of their school even if he looks different and so things start to get better for Auggie. He finds people are nicer, they care and want to be friends with him. The story finally ends as the fifth graders attend their end of the year graduation and August has a moment with his mother, thanking her for making him go to school. Though that is the end of the story, there is still more to it. Throughout the book, it shifts from August’s point of view and focuses on a myriad of other characters in story. These other characters include his sister, Via, Jack, Summer, and a few others. This helps to give different perspectives and reveal more about not only August’s life, but the other characters’ lives too.
OWL – Wonder: This book was absolutely fascinating to me and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I know that the author has written more books involving the characters, but no direct sequels so far. So I have to wonder, will there ever be a sequel to wonder? Will we get to see what happens next in August’s life?
Diversity: This book is hard to classify with its diversity, but it seems to be a culturally neutral piece. Within it, there is mention of several different kinds of characters, such as Via and Auggie’s grandmother who is Brazilian, but there is never really any focus on the cultural aspects of a character with a different heritage like Grans. Instead, the book focuses on a general story line with all different types of characters in it.
Title: Counting Crows
Author: Kathi Appelt
Summary: This is a book that follows a group of crows as they demonstrate their ability to count with a few rhymes thrown in. They count by threes, first counting themselves and then varying objects like mangoes and ants, until they reach number nine. From there, they count one by one until finally reaching twelve and introducing the concept of a dozen to young readers. The dozen crows then fly off into the sky and bid farewell by a cat who is lounging nearby on a small park bench. This book is definitely focused on reviewing simple numbers, 1-12, as well as introducing new mathematical concepts, such as counting by threes and understanding that twelve of something is a dozen, to readers in a basic, easy to follow number story format.
OWL – Wonder: As someone who loves birds, I have to wonder where the author drew their inspiration for using birds as their focal point for a counting book. Was it from simply seeing a flock of crows one day or did they do some research into crows and learn that they have indeed been known to be able to count in real life?
Diversity: This book is non-applicable to the diversity tag. The whole cast of characters are animals and thus do not have much of a connection to it.
Title: Green Eggs and Ham
Author: Dr. Seuss
Summary: The story begins with Sam-I-am trying to get another, unnamed character to try the dish, green eggs and ham. The other promptly refuses and so Sam-I-am offers the man various situations in which he may like them, such as with a fox or in a box. But each time the man refuses. Sam-I-am still refuses to desist and eventually his persistence pays off. The other agrees to try green eggs and ham under the condition that Sam-I-am leaves him alone once he does. To his surprise, he finds that he quite likes the dish and expresses this to Sam-I-am. The tale ends with the man saying he does indeed like green eggs and ham and thanking Sam-I-am. Within in the story the words “Sam-I-am” and “I do not like green eggs and ham” are used repeatedly to create a steady, recognizable pattern for readers to follow along with. Along with some words that simply rhyme with each other, like fox and box, the recognizable patterns and phrases throughout the book help to engage young readers and encourage them to read along with the tale as it is told.
OWL – Observation: The book has a multitude of repetition and rhyming which makes it a good pattern book. Kids will be able to see repeated lines such as “I do not like green eggs and ham”. This should help them to easily follow along and even join in with the story as it is read.
Diversity: Though the characters are not animals, they are not human either and so we cannot rightly say if they are diverse or not without actually knowing what is considered diverse in Seuss’s world.
Title: The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Author: Paul Galdone
Summary: This piece is a retelling of the classic tale of three billy goats. It opens with the three billy goats gruff, the small one, the medium one, and the big one, as they stare off into the distance at a green pasture. They want to go to it and eat all the sweet, green grass, but there is only one way to get to the meadow and that is to cross the river by passing over the nearby bridge. The issue though, is that there is a hungry troll beneath the bridge and the goats know he would not let them pass. And so they plan to trick him to get to the meadow. One by one, they cross the bridge. Each time the goat trying to cross is stopped, starting with the smallest, by the troll who claims he will eat them. But each time the goat says not to eat him, but rather wait for the bigger goat that will follow to eat. Their plan works and as the biggest billy goat crosses the bridge, the troll goes to eat him, only to be pushed over the edge and off into the river by largest beast. With their adversary now out of the way, the three goats gain access to the green meadow and eat to their hearts content.
OWL – Link: As a child, this was one of my favorite bed time story to listen to. My father would always be so enthusiastic when reading it, even giving the goats their own little voices, and I loved every moment of him reading it to me. So I knew I simply had to include it here in the hopes that one day I will perhaps be able to share it with my students and have them find some joy in it too.
Diversity: There is no applicable type of diversity for this piece. The tale is about animals and features all inhuman characters within it.
Title: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Summary: This classic tale follows the adventures of one little daydreamer, Alice, as she travels through a fantasy world known as Wonderland. The story begins as Alice sits on a river bank with her older sister, looking over her books. Uninterested, Alice turns her attention away and quickly finds herself chasing after a white rabbit who can speak and wears clothing. She tries to follow him, but ends up tumbling down a rabbit hole into the world of Wonderland. From here, she begins her adventure and comes to meet an array of strange characters, find a plethora of odd settings, and encounter a multitude of nonsensical events. A few of the different adventures Alice happens upon include; partaking in a Caucus race with anthropomorphic animals, having tea with a mad man, known as the Mad Hatter, and an anthropomorphic hare, the March Hare, listening to the Mock Turtle’s tale, and being accused, by the Queen of Hearts, of being a tart thief. The story ends as Alice upsets the queen and is about to be the next subject to lose their head when she is awoken by her sister. She finds that all of her adventures were simple dreams and that she had been sleeping the whole time. It comes to a close as Alice decides to leave the river bank, pondering over all of her fantasies.
OWL – Link: When I young, and even now, I had a very, very active imagination. And a big part of why I was and am so creative is because of reading books like the Alice series by Lewis Carroll. And so to potentially help facilitate creative growth in my own students, I would love to share this book with them.
Diversity: While the book does feature a human protagonist, a large majority of the characters are animals who live in a world and society completely different to those on earth so I feel that the non-applicable tag is what fits for this book’s diversity.
Tile: Stone Soup
Author: Marcia Brown
Summary: This is a tale that opens with three soldiers who are returning home from war. They are hungry and tired so when they come across a village, they decide to see if there is any chance that they could rest and eat there. When they arrive, they find that the villages have no food, or so they say. In reality, the villagers have hidden away all of their food, not wanting to share it with the soldiers. It is then that the soldiers decide that they will make themselves food and that they will make soup from three stones. They gather up a large pot and boil the water before dropping the stones into it. At this, the soldiers begin to talk about how adding different types of food would make the soup all the better. Each time they mention a new food to put in, the villagers, too curious to think otherwise, offer to add their hidden rations to the soup. Over time the soup is full of the villagers’ own food and the soldiers, who have tricked them, are looked upon as heroes. They are praised as the town shares the soup and given a place to stay for the night. The next day, the villagers praise the soldiers once again for telling them how to make stone soup and send them on their way. Even in the end, they are non-the-wiser to having been tricked by the soldiers to put the food they had been trying to hide into the soup.
OWL – Observation: Based on what happened within the tale, I would gander that this gets considered to be a trickster tale. The main characters spend the entire book fooling the townsfolk into sharing their food and in the end go about their merry way as if nothing ever happened, similar to fox in the gingerbread man.
Diversity: This book is culturally generic. People of a specific group are focused on, but there are no real details about their culture being introduced or touched on in the tale. The characters are simply there to be a part of the story.
Author: David Wiesner
Summary: This is a wordless book that centers around a group of frogs on a Tuesday evening. And while most of the story can be up to the reader to interpret, it does have a semblance of a story line that can be followed by just looking at the pictures. It begins with all of the frogs in a pond, acting like normal frogs do, when suddenly their lily pads begin to float and they take for the skies. The group of frogs fly to a nearby town and end up causing all sorts of mischief, getting entangled in clothes lines, chased by dogs, and even sneaking into an old woman’s living room while she sleeps. All night long the frogs explore the town, but when morning finally comes, the lily pads suddenly fall from the sky which causes the frogs to fall with them. Unable to fly any longer, the frogs hop back to their pond and proceed to pout about not being able to fly and have fun anymore. The book ends with the humans trying to figure out what in the world happened and why there are lily pads littering the ground all over the town. And then, the last two pages show what happens the following Tuesday evening, when pigs can fly.
OWL – Wonder: Based on the last few pages, it is safe to say that each Tuesday night will bring a new surprise. I wonder what will come next the week after the pigs have a night to fly around the town.
Diversity: This book features no real diversity. The tale focuses on animals, frogs to be exact, and follows their journey on that Tuesday evening.
Title: One Tiny Turtle
Author: Nicola Davies
Summary: This informational tale explores the nature of a sea turtle by following the story of one little turtle as she journeys through life. It talks about how she lives in the sea, how her life progresses, and how from her, a new generation of turtles will repeat the process. All of this is informational despite being presented in a narrative form as it focuses on what turtles really do experience in life and strays away from any fantasy elements that might slip in to other stories like the turtles being able to speak to each other or other animals. The pages also have additional facts, designed to be wavy in text pattern to look like waves, that help to give even more information on turtles. These do not pertain to the narrative parts of the book, but are interesting facts to children learn even more about sea turtles. Even though it has a lot of information presented on each page, it is still easy to follow for children and the narrative style of presenting facts would help keep them more invested than if it were a simple presentation of facts.
OWL – Observation: The author does a good job at addressing some real life dangers that turtles can encounter in the wild while still keeping it friendly to younger children. This helps to offer a true understanding of the animals’ lives without having any lasting, unhappy effects on children who read the book.
Diversity: This book, while very informative, has a non-applicable diversity label because it focuses on teaching readers about sea turtles which are animals.
Author: Kirby Larson
Summary: This is a historical fiction novel about a young Japanese girl and her family, her mom, pop, brother Ted, and Obaachan, during World War II, the period in which Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps in the United States in particular. The story begins just after the attack on Pearl Harbor as Mitsi deals with the problems that come with the new stigma against anyone of Japanese descent. She finds that she and her whole family are treated differently in ways that are not so nice, and that the only solace in her life comes from her loving dog Dash. Things take another turn for the worse however, as the government enforces a mandatory evacuation of all Japanese Americans into internment camps. Mitsi’s family is no exception and much to her dismay, she is forced to leave Dash with her kindly neighbor, as pets are not allowed in the camps, and leaves her home to go to camp Harmony. There Mitsi finds herself falling deeper into unhappiness. The conditions are terrible and she misses Dash dearly. She finds that despite doing their best to try and make do, her family feels like it is falling apart and Mitsi cannot stand it. Things do improve, though, as Mitsi grows more accustomed to life at camp Harmony and even makes a new friend with a girl named Debbie, who has issues of her own with her absent father. But just as she settles into her life, things are thrown into chaos again and the whole camp is moved to a new location out in the desert. It is even farther from Dash, who she had been writing to, and more misery ensues for the young girl. But Mitsi and her family as hardly and adaptable and they grow into their new lives once again. Things continue to improve as her family works through a few issues, like her brother getting rid of a bad crowd of friends, and she feels like they are whole again. The tale ends with General DeWitt instating a new rule that would allow pets into the camps and Mitsi is reunited with her fluffy companion. They end with the friendly neighbor, Mrs. Bowker, Dash, and Mitsi all heading to Misti’s apartment in the camp for Tea. They are still in the camp, but things are more positive for Misti who is reunited with her best friend and able to be with her friends and family.
OWL – Wonder: From what is presented within the book, we are left with a sense of uncertainty as to what happens next. Mitsi is reunited with her canine companion, but at the same time she and her family are still stationed in an internment camp. I cannot help but wonder when were they finally able to leave and what were their lives like after they did? What happened next in Mitsi and Dash’s story?
Diversity: This novel is culturally specific. The main characters are of a specific cultural group, Japanese Americans in this instance. How their culture effects their lives, particularly during the period in which there were Japanese internment camps in the United States, as well as specific details about their culture are portrayed throughout the book and help to build the reader’s understanding of not only the time-period, but also some of the different aspects that come from Japanese culture.
Title: Song and Dance Man
Author: Karen Ackerman
Summary: This is a sweet little book that follows the adventures of a grandfather and his grandchildren as they explore the attic in their grandparent’s house. The grandfather finds some of his old things and he decides to put on a show for his grandchildren, as he used to be quite the “song and dance man”. He displays all the talents that he has learned as a performer over the years, including tap dancing, singing, telling jokes, and magic tricks, as his grandkids watch in wonder. As his performance finishes, the children cheer and ask for more, but he simply smiles and puts his things away. The grandchildren say that they wish they could have seen him perform when he was younger. It draws to a close as he hugs all his grandchildren and tells them that he would not trade the time he gets to share with them for a “million good old days” and then they all finally clamor down the attic steps, with the grandfather pausing to reminisce about the past one last time.
OWL – Observation: The book features a relationship between a grandparent and their grandchildren which is a dynamic not usually very focused on in children’s literature. It is good to see a book that touches on and explores a relationship that is very important in many different children’s lives.
Diversity: This book is culturally generic. It focuses on a family of a specific background, but does not touch on any culturally specific information about that family in the book. Instead it focuses on different activities and occupations that the grandfather does and that anyone could take up and try themselves.
Title: The Spider and the Fly
Author: Tony Diterlizzi
Summary: This book is a retelling of an short, but cautionary fable originally told by Mary Howitt. It begins with a gentleman spider as he tries to persuade a lady fly that he comes across to come and join him in his den. She is weary of him, knowing what spiders do to insects, and refuses him at first to which he retorts with more persuasion. But try as he might, with compliments and promises, he cannot persuade her to join him. He does however notice how she enjoys his compliments and so he continues with them, until she is far too taken with them to stay away. The spider snatches her up and drags her up to his web where it is then implied that she is eaten. The grim story ends with a word of warning from the author to the reader, saying to be wary of strangers with honeyed words and lots of flattery as one could find themself trouble like the fly did if they decide to trust these people.
OWL – Link: I remember being fascinated by this book and its illustrations when I was younger and even now, that I am older, I think it is a great story to share with children. It is not only unlike many other children’s books, but it also teaches a very important lesson of not trusting strangers. I know that I, for one, took that to heart after having this book read to me.
Diversity: The tale introduces us to a cast made entirely of anthropomorphic insects and so the book does not have a connection with a specific type of diversity and falls into the non-applicable category.
Title: The Lotus Seed
Author: Sherry Garland
Summary: This is a historical fiction picture book that follows the tale of a woman who was present and living in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. We follow her as she first encounters the emperor crying after losing his throne. Wanting to remember him, she sneaks into the palace grounds and takes a seed from one of the various lotus flowers there. She hides it away and continues on with her life, getting married and planning on settling down. That does not happen though as war strikes the country and, with her husband off fighting, she is forced to flee with her child. They managed to escape and end up in the United States where she grows her family, the lotus seed still with her. Years later, she finds the seed to be gone and discovers that her grandson, and the narrator’s brother, has decided to plant it out in the garden. At first the woman is upset, but as the seed grows into a blossom, her sadness is replaced with a sense of peace and nostalgia for her country. She ends by giving her grandchildren each a seed from the flower so that they too can remember the emperor and Vietnam.
OWL – Wonder: The book focuses on a historical event with a fictional story of the woman who flees from Vietnam, but even then, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like for the woman to return to Vietnam. What would she find, how would she feel, and would she take any of her family there too?
Diversity: This piece of culturally specific. It focuses on the life of a Vietnamese woman and how she carries a small token to not only remember her heritage, but to share it with her family as well. There are various instances within the piece that talk about Vietnam’s history as well as some important symbols that help to represent its culture.
Author: Gail Gibbons
Summary: This is an informational, nonfiction picture book that focuses on the topic of spiders. It offers an insight on many different aspects of spiders, including how many different types there are in the world, where the word arachnid originated from, how they differ from insects, and even how they and if they weave webs at all. It is packed full of a multitude of facts and information, all of which are true, about spiders and can act as a great pair of a fiction piece about spider or even stand on its own, with a teacher perhaps even just reading a few different facts to a class at a time. The piece, with its colorful imagery and easy to read and understand text, acts as a good way to introduce the subject of spiders to children and help the understand more about an animal that is usually quite terrifying.
OWL – Link: I, myself, am deathly afraid of spiders. But even so, I have this odd fascination with them in literature and much to my surprise, I was able to read this informational piece about them with ease and without cringing or shying away from the imagery. The drawn pictures definitely help to create a more at ease tone when trying to learn about such a squeamish topic.
Diversity: As the book focuses solely on spiders, which are of course animals, it does not have tie to diversity. It is simply an informational piece about a topic in our world.
Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Summary: This is a science fiction novel that follows the peculiar tale of a fifth grader and her grandfather, who has found a way to reverse aging. The story begins with an exert about goldfish aimed to teach not only the characters the importance of the circle of life, but the readers too. Following that, the main character, Ellie, comes face to face with her now teenage grandfather. Unable to get back into his lab, her grandfather moves in with them and even begins to attend Ellie’s school. As the novel progresses, Ellie finds herself more and more fascinated with science, thanks to her grandfather, and thinks herself a scientist in the making. However, her grandfather is determined to publish his findings and to become known as one of the great scientists of the world. So he plans to break into his old lab and retrieve the jellyfish that he was able to make the age regressing serum with. He, with Ellie and a classmate of hers Raj, they try multiple times only to fail. That is until Ellie comes up with a plan involving delivering pizza and it works, with Raj being able to retrieve the jellyfish. But as her grandfather begins to continue with his research and how he will present it to the world, Ellie comes to the realization that maybe this breakthrough is not something to reveal to the world. She confronts her grandfather, who refuses her proposal at first. But her words eventually reach him and the novel comes to a close as he flushes the jellyfish down the toilet and finally sees the importance of Ellie’s words. He leaves to travel, promising to be back, and things return to normal for Ellie. That is until a mysterious package arrives harboring a new, strange jellyfish inside.
OWL – Wonder: The book ends on a cliff hanger. It presents a new type of jellyfish that could be used to any kind of unimaginable science. So, I have to wonder, what would this strange new specimen be used for and will we ever find out with a sequel?
Diversity: I believe that this book displays a culturally neutral type of diversity with its characters. No real culture is focused on in the book, but with the characters presented, based on attributes like their names such as Raj and Momo, it can be inferred that an array of different people are portrayed in the book. No one culture is explored, but there are several different types of people mentioned.
Title: The Day-Glo Brothers
Author: Chris Barton
Summary: This is a biographical picture book that focuses on the lives of the Switzer brothers, Joe and Bob. It begins with the two of them as kids and explains how they each had their own habits and ambitions for the world. Joe wanted to be a magician and Bob wanted to be a doctor. But as they got older, Bob’s dream was ended after an accident in a ketchup factory. He was stuck at home to recover for a long time when his brother came to him with an idea to make his magic act even more impressive, using fluorescent painted items as props. Not having anything else to do, Bob agreed and he and Joe got to work messing around with paints that glowed in the dark. They focused on this business, making a profit from making and selling glow in the dark props and items for all sorts of different businesses, before moving east to Ohio. There, the brothers made a particularly strange discovery. They found that a combination of hot alcohol and fluorescent dye made the objects keep their color even in the light. It was a break through to have such bright, vibrant colors visible during the day time and the brothers decided to name their invention “Day-Glo” paint. With their invention, they were able to help people all over the US, even with the military’s efforts in World War II. It ends by saying that the brothers wanted to help people as well as dazzle crowds, and with their paint, they were able to do both. The last few pages explain how both normal fluorescence and daylight fluorescence work.
OWL – Observation: I noticed that as the two brothers began to become more and more involved with paint, the pages became brighter and brighter. It was a nice little touch that really helped to not only show the colors that the boys invented, but also how emphasize just how important these colors are.
Diversity: This piece is what I believe to be culturally neutral. Though no cultures are depicted or focused on in the book, there are an array of different types of characters of all kinds of backgrounds seen in the pages and the pictures.
Title: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Author: Judi Barrett
Summary: This is a fantasy book about the town of Chew and Swallow. It starts with a grandfather telling his grandkids about a peculiar little town. Now this town is just like every other town, except for one thing, the weather. Instead of raining or snowing, food would fall from the sky at every meal time. It talks about how the townsfolk go about their lies with the strange weather. But then things take a turn for the worst as the weather begins to pour down strange, food based weather. More and more storms come over the town and the food grows larger with each one that comes over the town. At one point they even have to close the school because of a giant pancake that falls atop of it. The townsfolk eventually decide to leave the town, believing they had no other choice. And so they paste together the old bread and make rafts before setting out to sea to find better land. They come to a new shore and make a little town, though have trouble adjusting to having to buy their food, but still it is better than what they remember in Chew and Swallow. The book closes with their grandfather saying that no one ever went back to the town to see what had happened. The next morning, the kids awaken and head out to go sledding with their grandpa, swearing that they saw butter and could smell mashed potatoes.
OWL – Observation: I love seeing all the different food based weather patterns. Getting to see it rain hot dogs and pea soup really brings the story to life and immerses the reader or listener in the special little town of Chew and Swallow
Diversity: I think that this book is culturally neutral. Like with the biography about the Day-Glo brothers, there is no real focus on any specific culture. However, within the pictures and the community of Chew and Swallow, there are a plethora of different types of people being depicted.
Title: Love That Dog
Author: Sharon Creech
Summary: This is novel written completely in free verse poetry and follows the story of a young narrator named Jack as he learns about poetry during a school year. It starts with Jack none too happy about having to write poetry, even claiming that is it something that only girls do. However, over time he becomes more and more entranced with it and begins to like not only listening to it, but writing it as well. This is when we begin to learn more about Jack and how important his dog Sky was to him before an unfortunate accident caused him to pass away. We follow Jack as he uses his poetry to talk about Sky and this is when he comes to find his favorite poet, Walter Dean Myers. He is fascinated by the other’s works and even writes a poem inspired by Myers’ Love That Boy poem. Egged on by his teacher, Jack writes a letter to Mr. Myers asking him to come visit if he can and to his surprise, the poet does come. He and his classmates enjoy a day with Mr. Myers and the tale ends with Jack writing a thank you letter to the other and includes the poem about Sky that was inspired by Myers’ poems. After the story concludes, the book has bunch of the poems that were mentioned in the story that the reader can read for themselves.
OWL – Link: This is such an easy, but enthralling piece. As a child I always struggled with poetry. I could never understand or relate to it and I wish so much that this had been used in my classroom. It would have helped me to understand that poetry is not as complicated as it may seem and that really anyone can partake in it and enjoy. I definitely hope to incorporate this into my classroom someday.
Diversity: Even though this book features human characters, there is no real mention of any sort of ethnicity or cultural background and so I would say that this book has a non-applicable diversity tag.
Title: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems
Author: Marylin Singer
Summary: This particular piece is a book about poems that focus on classic fairy tales. And while this idea in general is nothing new, it offers a unique aspect to these stories by having the poems be read in two different ways, normally and then in reverse. It offers a unique or new perspective, along with the more classic notion, from timeless tales that most everyone is familiar with, and features pairs of poems for characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White, and many more. My personal favorite in the book was the poem called The Sleeping Beauty and the Wide-Awake Prince. In these pairs of poems, we learn about Sleeping Beauty who only ever wants to be able to live her life and not have to be stuck sleeping, while conversely Prince Charming is stuck in his own life, forced to hack away a briars and only wishing for some rest and recuperation. This book is a unique, fun little piece that can be used as a good way to introduce poetry, opposites, and even the premise of fairy tales to students.
OWL- Wonder: For such a simple concept, the piece is exceedingly unique and I cannot help but wonder, just how in the world did the author come to think up this idea. What inspired Singer to try and reverse the stories of well-known fairy tales?
Diversity: This book seems to be culturally generic. While not really mentioned at all in the text nor focused on in the poems, the pictures do seem to depict characters of a certain group or who all hail from the same, certain area.
Title: Lucky Beans
Author: Becky Birtha
Summary: This is a historical fiction piece that follows the story of a young boy, Marshall, living with his family during the Great Depression of the 1930s. His father has lost his job and some extended family has come to live with them. Short on money, Marshall and his family have to eat beans nightly for dinner. To which, Marshall is not fond of at all. One day though, he finds himself walking by a shop window with a fancy sewing machine and a large jar of beans. A sign next to the beans says that if you can guess the closest to the number of beans in the jar, you can win the sewing machine. And Marshall, having watched her sew their clothes, wants to win it for his mother. He goes home and explains the situation to his family, who are happy to try and help him win. They spend the next few days trying to figure out how to estimate the right number of beans and finally find the solution thanks to what Marshall has learned in school about math and measurements and the use of his parent’s crock pot. Confident in their estimation, Marshall and his mother go to the store the day of the drawing and make their guess. The tale ends as the winner is called and it is Marshall’s mother, who was only thirteen beans off from being completely right. Over joyed the two go to accept the prize and are congratulated for their great estimation.
OWL – Observation: This book not only offers an insight into what life was like during the Great Depression, it also incorporates math into the story as well. It can be used as both a teaching tool for history and for math and for linking the two together to show that both are applicable within the real world and that what we learn is not simply just things that teachers want students to know, but that it can actually help them in life.
Diversity: This book is culturally specific. While it does talk about how the poor in general faired during the great depression, it also devotes some time to exploring specifically how an African American family who were facing financial issues lived during the time period. It follows how the family lived as well as the adversities that faced from others within society.
Title: I am Rosa Parks
Author: Rosa Parks
Summary: This is an autobiographical piece about the life of Rosa Parks, told by the lady herself. She begins by talking about the situation in America before civil rights and how she was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus. She mentions how everyone should be equal, no matter who they are, before transitioning into speaking about her life from the beginning. Parks goes through her childhood to her young adulthood to the bus incident again. This time however, there is no transition to the past, instead she goes on to talk about how African Americans began to stand up for themselves. They stopped riding busses, even during the winter, to protest the injustices. Eventually, their boycott ends in victory with a court ruling saying that no one had to give up their seats to anyone else on the bus. She ends up moving to the north for safety reasons, but mentions the south and how Martin Luther King Jr continued to fight for equal rights and truly started the civil rights movements. The book ends with Rosa Parks being glad for what she has helped to change and how she hopes that the children of today will grow up to love one another not matter what they may be or look like.
OWL – Observation: Rosa Parks does a really swell job about discussing just how unfair life was in the south before the civil rights movements without being bias towards any group. It helps to show children that no one has to be wrong or mean or bad because everyone is the same, just ordinary people.
Diversity: This book is culturally specific. It focuses on a member of a specific group of people, African Americans, and how before the civil rights movement, she and others of this cultural group were mistreated. We learn about how life was for this group through the eyes of this one, historical figure.