Title: We’re All Wonders
Author: R.J. Palacio
Illustrator: R.J. Palacio
Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2012
Number of Pages: 31
Tags/Theme: Adventure, Fiction, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a young boy named Auggie and he doesn’t look the same as most kids. Auggie only has one eye and calls himself a wonder. Although he doesn’t only call himself a wonder, he says everyone is a wonder. He wants everyone to know that even though he doesn’t like everyone else, he does all of the things they do.
Classroom Application: This can be used to show students that everyone should be accepted in the classroom no matter who they are or how they look. It is important to give everyone a shot and to respect everyone in the class and in the world.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is a easy read. The sentences are short and each page has a few sentences. Auggie just wants to show everyone that he is just like them, “Sure, I do ordinary things. I ride a bike. I eat ice cream. I play ball.” Auggie is showing that he does any ordinary thing that kids his age do like riding his bike and playing ball. He just wants to show that he and everyone else is a wonder in their own way. He just wants people to accept him, “… people can change they way they see. If they do, they’ll see that I’m a wonder.” He justs wants to show that he is a wonder and that he is just like everyone else.
Title: My Pal, Victor
Author: Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Illustrator: Robert L. Sweetland
Publisher and Year: Raventree Press 2010
Number of Pages: 31
Tags/Theme: Adventure, diversity, friendship, K-1, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This book is about two friends, Dominic and Victor. Dominic tells the reader about all of the great things about Victor: he tells great stories, has great jokes, and likes Dominic for who he is. They are the best of friends. At the end of the story they show that Victor is in a wheelchair.
Classroom Application: This story can be used to show that everyone should be accepted by all students no matter if they are black, white, green, yellow, or in a wheelchair. Dominic and Victor are best of friends and Victor cheers on Dominic at his baseball games even though he is in a wheelchair and can’t play.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: Looking at the cover and reading the title it seems like this book is going to be about two friends, one American and one Mexican, but Victor is in a wheelchair and they are still best friends and do normal things that any two friends would do, “My pal, Victor tells great jokes.” They tell jokes and laugh until their stomachs hurt just like any friends do. “My pal, Victor throws a toy for his dog to catch.” Victor plays with his dog like a lot of other people that aren’t in wheelchairs do. This book shows that even though he is in a wheelchair he can still do all of the fun things any other friend does and he is really funny!
Title: Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
Author: Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
Illustrator: Evan Turk
Publisher and Year: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2016
Number of Pages: 36
Tags/Theme: Adventure, Culture, Family, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: The main character is Gandhi’s grandson and he accompanies his grandfather on his trips. His grandson follows all of his grandfather’s teachings and the story focuses mainly on their vow to be non-violent and not waste. Then one day while walking home he through his pencil away into the field, which was wasteful, and he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. When his grandfather found out he made him go back and find it and then taught him how being wasteful can lead to violence. His grandson then knew that it was important to follow his grandfathers teachings and keep his vows.
Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Gandhi and also to not be wasteful because Gandhi in the story shows the impacts of being wasteful. Gandhi shows him that it can affect others and that it is important to keep your vows as well.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book shows some of the teachings of Gandhi and the importance of them. The two things that are focused on are to not be wasteful and be non-violent. Gandhi explains to his grandson that his actions can affect other people. Before Gandhi talked to him he did not realize what his actions could do, “Soon I could see how throwing my pencil away could hurt others.” Gandhi showed him how throwing and wasting his pencil could eventually hurt others teaching his grandson that it is important to not waste things. The tone of this book is very light and Gandhi is trying to help his grandson learn throughout the story. At the end of the story he tells him, “Be the change you wish to see in the world, Arun.” This was one of Gandhi’s sayings and shows how he dedicated his life to teaching others.
Title: We Are Brothers
Author(s): Yves Nadon
Illustrator/Photographer: Jean Claverie
Publisher and Year: Creative Editions; 2018
Number of Pages: 29
Tags: Adventure, Diversity, Family, Fiction, Picture Book, K-5, Sarah Luce
We Are Brothers tells the story of two brothers and their adventures of cliff diving. The younger brother is scared to jump into the water for the first time but his brother encourages him to try it. Eventually he tries and succeeds and then the brothers have fun jumping into the water together. Throughout the story, the brothers are compared to cats, birds, and fish multiple times as they climb, jump, and swim. Students need to have a good concept of metaphors to fully understand the book.
This text could be used to teach the concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. The younger brother begins the story with a fixed mindset, saying that he has always been too scared to try. However, as the story progresses, the brother gains confidence in himself and achieves a growth mindset when he takes the leap and jumps into the water.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:
This story features two brothers who are African-American. The book portrays them as children enjoying themselves and having fun, but also, in a larger sense, as people who are trying to see what they can do and who they can become. The author even uses the setting to further the idea that they can do anything, saying, “The tree branch feels warm and rugged, familiar and encouraging, even” (page 8). The story and language used is empowering, with the siblings helping one another out. The younger brother notices that his brother is there to support him, saying, “I can see my brother’s eyes, just above the water, believing in me” (page 14). I would introduce this book by asking students if they have ever overcome a fear of theirs, sharing that we are going to read a book that tells the story of when a little boy overcame his fear.
Title: Wagon Train: A Family Goes West in 1865
Author(s): Courtni C. Wrights
Illustrator/Photographer: Gershom Griffith
Publisher and Year: Holiday House; 1995
Number of Pages: 30
Tags: Adventure, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, Picture Book, 2-3, 4-5, Sarah Luce
Genre: Historical Fiction
Wagon Train is about an African American family that travels west in a wagon train after being freed from slavery. Along the way, they encounter dangerous animals, brutal weather, and Native Americans. The story ends with the hope that the family will safely make it to California. There is an Author’s Note on the first page talking about the treatment of African Americans and how they too travelled west, despite the lack of records of their experiences. Students would find it helpful to know about the Oregon Trail and the Westward Expansion.
This text would be perfect for reinforcing material taught about the Oregon Trail and Westward Expansion. It could be used in the middle of a unit to give students a window into the hardships and experiences these settlers faced. It is also a good text to use to reinforce that not just White people went west, but so did many African Americans after the Civil War.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis:
Wagon Train not only represents the culture of westward settlers and those living in covered wagons as they travelled, but also the culture of African Americans who set out on the same journey. These people had an even worse expedition, because they could not “join one of the big trains leaving Independence, Missouri” (page 8). Being in a smaller train meant less support from others and more danger. Because “few could write diaries to record their experiences,” this book is important in showing students what the journey west was potentially like for African Americans (page 1). If I used this story in the middle of an Oregon Trail unit, I would introduce it as a story about a group of people who were not well documented, but were an important part of the movement nonetheless.