In Notice and Note:Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst (Heinnemann 2012), teachers are provided with a wealth of information relating to close reading. Not only do they provide six clear “sign posts” to teach close reading, but also questions for students to ask themselves relating to close read, lesson plan ideas for teaching the strategies, and real class examples of how the lesson plans proceed. Notice and Note is geared toward teachers of students from fourth to tenth grade, but any reader (even the most emergent) can enjoy literature more by pondering the questions and noticing the sign posts as they experience literature. (more…)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a biography of the 1936 Olympic mile-runner Louis Zamperini. Zamperini came in seventh place that year, so he was not the winner in that respect. But his subsequent story is incredible and inspiring. (more…)
My mom and dad live more than an hour away from us. As we drive home late at night from a visit to their home and as we drive through my childhood home, past my old elementary school, high school, church, favorite playgrounds, and so forth, my son asks me to tell him stories about when I was a little girl.
He loves to hear the story about when I taught swimming lessons at the pool and my car battery was dead afterwords, so I had to call grandpa to come help me jumpstart the car. He loves to hear about the day when I was three years old and I tried to walk from home to the grocery store because I did not want to be left at home with grandma. It helps that we happen to pass by those places, but I believe he’d love the stories even if we did not still live in my childhood hometown.
Tell Me a Story: Sharing Stories to Enrich Your Child’s World by Elaine Reese (Oxford University Press, 2013) is a volume about the benefits your children gain from hearing and retelling stories. I loved how it included tips for sharing stories with all children, from toddler through adolescence. It reinforced the fact that I’m doing most things right as I discuss the picture books I read to my toddler, read aloud to my son, encourage my son to tell me his favorite parts of the day, and tell my children stories from my childhood.
In Terry Eagleton’s slim volume How to Read Literature (Yale University Press, 2013), the author approaches literature like an old friend. His volume is easily readable and quite fun. Rather than didactically explaining how to read literature, he writes with familiarity about different ways one could look at literature. There is no lecture in this volume. There are, however, lots of ideas and inspirations from classic and modern works that Mr Eagleton himself obviously loves. (more…)
Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Little, Brown, August 2013) is a poetic biography of the two influential civil rights individuals who together shared a message during the March on Washington in 1963. Brian Pinkney’s illustrations are sweeping and colorful, bringing the reader in to the tale of two talented individuals.
Martin Luther King, Jr., is obviously the more well known of the two, but I loved how the lives of both were weaved together. Martin spoke and Mahalia sang. It is a vivid reminder that each has a talent, and both could use that talent to share the gospel of freedom and encourage Civil Rights. Ms Pinkney’s text throughout brings an added talent to the story: that of poetry. I loved the rhythm of the text as I read it.
The picture book culminates in the March on Washington, with the “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahalia Jackson’s performance at that historical day. I loved how powerful that moment felt as I read the picture book. I had to find the videos of the events to compare. Unfortunately, the audio recording is pretty poor for Mahalia’s song, but it must suffice.
I’m reviewing this now in anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the August March on Washington. What a special summer that was for Civil Rights!
Note: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher of Martin and Mahalia for review consideration.