Author Archives: ahenry1

My Family, Your Family

Title: My Family, Your Family

Author(s): Lisa Bullard

Illustrator/Photographer: Renee Kurilla

Publisher and Year: Lerner Publishing 2015

Number of pages: 21

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Picture Book, K-1, 2-3

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: My Family, Your Family is a story that also has little bubbles with facts on each page. The story part follows Makayla as she travels around her neighborhood spending time with the various families that she knows. Makayla is about to have a little brother and she is very concerned that it will change their family. She sees, through the different families in town, that every family is great, and her new baby brother will make her family better. The fact bubbles include information about languages spoke at home, divorce, step-parents/siblings, and adoption. Young readers would be able to read and understand this book, and there is a glossary at the end that lists words mentioned in the story that relate to families. In addition to the glossary, there is a section titled “Make a ‘”One Great Thing”’ Poster” that provides step-by-step instructions for students to make a poster that shows one thing that makes their family great.

Classroom Application: My Family, Your Family can be used to show students that different types of families exist, and that they are all valid. It can be used to help teach Social and Emotional Learning Standard 2, by showing relationships different from the students. It also shows various ways that families maintain those relationships, such as communication and cooperation. This text could be used in an early education classroom to introduce the idea of differences in families.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents many different family types. Makayla herself is part of a mixed-race family. She meets a family that speaks Spanish, a lesbian couple, a girl and her divorced dad who are Asian, a boy who lives with his grandparents, a gay couple and their adopted son (also a mixed-race family) and has dinner with her single aunt and three cousins. Every one of these families is spoken of positively and the focus is on the family dynamic, not necessarily who is part of the family. When meeting Parker, the adopted boy with two dads, Makayla says, “And Parker’s two dads knew he was meant to be their little boy.” The emphasis is that the dads love Parker, not that they are gay. In the bubble on that page it says, “Some children who are adopted were born in the United States. Some were born in other countries. Either way, their adoptive families fell like they were meant to be together.” This is validating the families, showing that no matter how they came to be a family, they still love each other.

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Title: Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Author(s): Margarita Engle

Illustrator/Photographer: Rafael Lopez

Publisher and Year: Henry Holt and Company 2017

Number of pages: 38

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Diversity, Poetry, Picture Book, K-5, Non-fiction, Social Science

Genre: Biography

Descriptive Annotation:  Bravo! is a biographical story that highlights many influential Hispanics (this is the term the author uses; however, the story does include individuals from countries other than Spain. A better term would be Spanish-speakers). The individuals in the text range from poets to doctors, musicians to astronauts, pilots to cowboys. At the end of the story is a list of many more influential Spanish-speaking people and a more descriptive paragraph about each of the individuals featured. Most of the words in the story are easy words, any students reading this would benefit from a general knowledge of history, although it is not strictly necessary. This story is written in free-verse poetry and the illustrations are done in pen, ink, watercolor, construction paper, and acrylic on wood.

Classroom Application: This text can be used to talk about social science and Spanish-speaking individuals’ contributions to many different fields. Many of the stories mention wars, slavery, injustice, and immigration. The stories of specific individuals can be used to supplement lessons and/or units on events such as the American Revolution, Civil Wars, music, medical advancements, and even minorities in baseball. This book could be introduced by asking students what they know about Spanish-speaking individuals’ contributions to history and then building off of their answers.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book can be used to highlight important people in the different Spanish-speaking cultures. A variety of cultures are represented in the book, so this text can be used when talking about many different cultures. On the page highlighting Julia De Burgos, it says, “I struggled to become a teacher and a poet, so I could use words to fight for equal rights for women, and work toward meeting the needs of poor children, and speak of independence for Puerto Rico.” Another page highlights Arnold Rojas, a cowboy, and says, “My Mexican ancestors included Yaqui and Maya indios, people who fought to stay free and live in their own traditional ways.” These quotes show just two of the many cultures represented in the text.

Freedom Over Me

Title: Freedom Over Me

Author(s): Ashley Bryan

Illustrator/Photographer: Ashley Bryan

Publisher and Year: Antheneum Books for Young Readers 2016

Number of pages: 44

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, Poetry, 2-3, 4-5, Social Science

Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  Freedom Over Me is the story of eleven slaves. It provided a narrative of each of the slaves’ duties on the plantation and then describes their inner thoughts while they are working. In the back of the book there is an Author’s Note that explains the history behind this story. The author collected many documents relating to slavery, including an appraisement form for an estate. This form listed eleven slaves with their name and price. The author wanted to craft these names and prices into people to show that slaves were humans, too. This book is written in free verse poetry and the illustrations are done in pen, ink, watercolor, and copies of historical documents.

Classroom Application: This book could be used in a unit on slavery. It provides a different perspective that shows a little bit of the slaves’ side of the story. This text could be used to show students how slaves were treated like animals when they were sold. The author includes the appraisal form in the book and it shows the slaves’ names next to cattle and other farm animals.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The pages that include the slaves’ thoughts provide a brief description of what their lives were like in Africa before they were taken. It includes mentions of African art, history, and music and how those things are passed down through generations. Mulvina, the oldest slave, says, “Years of driven labor have not driven the ancestral thoughts out of me. My memory of teaching-surrounded by children, singing songs of our people, the stories of our history-lives always within me.” Betty, a middle ages woman says, “We remember our African cultures, our traditions, our craftsmanship. Within us lives this knowledge, this undefeated pride.” This book could be used in the classroom by having the students compare this story to a story about slavery from the perspective of the owner. There would be a discussion on power and how perspectives shape our idea of the world around us.

My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl

Title: My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl (Dear America series)

Author(s): Ann Rinaldi

Illustrator/Photographer: N/A

Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc. 1999

Number of pages: 171

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Diversity, Chapter Book, Emotion, Historical Fiction, 4-5, Social Science

Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: My Heart is on the Ground is written in diary format. At the end of the book is a section on the events happening in the United States during 1880, the year that the book takes place. There is also a section of pictures, a note about the author, and a list of the other books in the Dear America series. My Heart is on the Ground is the story of Little Rose, a Sioux girl who gets sent to a school set up by white people to force Native American children to forget their heritage and become the white people’s idea of a perfect citizen. Little Rose struggles to remember where she comes from while also making her teachers proud.

Classroom Application: This book could be used in a series of lessons on Native Americans. It shows what these children went through in an age appropriate way. It can also be used during a lesson on writing styles, as an example of epistolary writing. The students could read this book, put themselves in the position of a child in any point in history, and then write a range of diary entries.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: My Heart is on the Ground paints an accurate picture of the life of a Native American child at an Indian School. This book could be used to start a conversation on appropriate treatment of groups, dominant culture, and/or Native American culture. Little Rose talks about many aspects of her home culture quite often in the book. One instance of the cultural differences is shown when one of Little Rose’s peers dies from a disease. “I know some of the boys and girls wanted to tear their garments, cut their hair, cover themselves with mud, and slash at their arms because the Death Angel took Horace. But we were made to stand in citizens’ clothing, clean and quiet” (44). This book could also be used to build confidence in student’s writing skills. As Little Rose learns the English language, she makes many mistakes in her writing. If students read passages like, “The teachers had a new bed bring brought to our room” (69), they can recognize that it is ok to make mistakes in their writing.

El Deafo

Title: El Deafo

Author(s ): Cece Bell

Illustrator/Photographer: Cece Bell

Publisher and Year: Amulet Books, 2014

Number of pages: 233

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Animals, Award Book, Fiction, 4-5, 6-8, Family, Graphic Novel

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: El Deafo is the story of a young girl, Cece, navigating elementary school and all that entails, while deaf. After contracting meningitis at age 4, Cece loses all ability to hear. She receives hearing aids and a Phonic Ear to use in school. In order to cope with being different, Cece creates an alter-ego, El Deafo. This book is a graphic novel, therefore there are many illustrations in the text. Students would need to have background knowledge in basic school situations, a middle to upper elementary level vocabulary, and the knowledge of how to read a graphic novel.

Classroom Application: I would use this text to address the Social Emotional Learning Standards for late elementary. This book could be used for Learning Standards 1.A., 2.A., 2.B.2.b., 2.C., and 2.D. These standards refer to explaining emotions, identifying social clues and describing them, identifying differences and overcoming them, and cooperating with friends and other groups. All of these topics are addressed in El Deafo, where the situations are presented, Cece chooses a course of action, and then the consequences are shown.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is about a child that is deaf. This story presents many situations that students that are deaf and their classmates could find themselves in. This book could be used to start a discussion about treatment of peers that may be different from themselves. This book was published in 2014, therefore it is up to date in the vocabulary that it uses to describe the situations and the treatments used to assist the student that is deaf. This book could be introduced by explaining to the students that sometimes, people have different abilities. It could also be explained that, just because someone may have different abilities, does not mean that they are in need of assistance. It can be used to start a discussion on appropriate treatment of peers, addressing both bullying and trying to be too helpful. On page 34, Cece is teased by a friend for mishearing a question. Her friend, Emma, says, “No-not supper-summer! Summmmmm-mmmmmer! Supper! HEE HEE!” This part of the story focuses on Cece being teased by her peers and how see feels when this happens. Later in the story, Cece makes a friend that is too helpful. In response to Ginny, her friend, saying, “CEE-CEE. DOO YOO WANT MYYY PEEA-NUT BUTT-ER SAND-WICH?”, Cece thinks, “I really, really like Ginny. She’s funny. She’s weird. We love all the same things. So what’s the problem? It’s the wat she talks to me… “(67).