Title: Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin
Author: Duncan Tonatiuh
Publisher and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers 2010
Number of Pages: 27
Tags: Award Book, Culture, Family, Friendship, K-1, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This is a very simple story about two cousins, one that lives in Mexico and one that lives in New York City, that write each other letters telling each other what they do in their lives. They have many similarities in what they do, but they can differ on how they do them. They both are very interested in one another and want to have their Primo, cousin in spanish, visit them sometime soon.
Classroom Application: This can be used to show similarities among kids throughout the world. Both kids went to school, had recess, went to the store/market, but they just differ on how or what they do while there. In New York they play basketball at recess, but in Mexico they play soccer, but they are both playing games at recess! This can also be used to introduce students to the spanish language as there are many spanish words throughout the story as well as pictures labeled so they can know what the word means.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents Mexican and American culture, but I can see how it can be used to show that kids across the world are more alike than they know. “Every morning I ride my bicicleta to school.” “I ride the subway to school. The subway is like a long metal snake, and it travels through tunnels underground.” They both go to school, but they get there differently, and they are both exciting ways of getting to school. In Mexico his favorite meal is quesadillas, and in America his favorite is pizza. It brings to light the similar things they do, and shows that they do them in different ways sometimes and that is perfectly okay and exciting.
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Christopher Myers
Publisher and Year: Scholastic Press 1997
Number of pages: 32
Tags: Award Book, Culture, Emotion, Non-fiction, 6-12, Joe Marras
Descriptive Analysis: This poem brings the reader on an adventure through the burrough of Harlem. This is a very powerful poem that captures the mood of Harlem through words and pictures. This is a poem that describes Harlem through its music, its people, its smells, and its sadness. There are many things in here that are historically relevant so prior knowledge on African American history is helpful to fully understand the poem.
Classroom Application: This poem would be very useful in teaching about African American history. This could also be used to teach about different ways of writing poems, that they don’t always have to rhyme or go in a specific template. This poem does not have rhyming or any template style of writing and it still is extremely powerful. So it could help to show that there are many ways to convey powerful writing.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This poem represents African American culture and its history in Harlem, but also from Africa. “Harlem was a promise of a better life, of a place where a man didn’t have to know his place simply because he was black,” Harlem was supposed to be a place of equality and bring together many African Americans from different parts of the world. “They brought a call, a song first heard in the villages of Ghana/Mali/Senegal,” people from all across Africa were brought together in Harlem and they united with one another to make Harlem a special place. This poem brings up many different countries and famous African Americans, so it can be used to introduce people like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray.
Title: Hidden Figures
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Illustrator: Laura Freeman
Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers 2018
Number of pages: 30
Tags: Culture, Diversity, Math, Non-fiction, Science, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This is a true story about four black women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden. These four women were some of the first black women to become engineers, and make strides in space and airplane technology. No background knowledge is needed for this because there is no actual math or science in this story, just a lot of mention of it because of how complicated the math they were doing is.
Classroom Application: This story has many classroom applications including history, math, and science. It could be used to tell the story of these four intelligent women or show real world applications of math and science. Also could be used to show african american scientists and mathematicians to show that they are indeed out there.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book represents african american culture and some of their struggles to gain equality in the workplace and in the world. Since this story takes place during the 1950’s, it can help show the fight for equality in America, and also can show the discrimination they felt by being segregated from white people, “They could not eat in the same restaurants. They could not drink from the same water fountains. They could not use the same restrooms.” This shows the segregation in America at the time, and helps to show how important it was for these women to do what they did. These women did amazing work and helped bring men to the moon and back down to earth, and advancing airplanes to prevent more crashes, among many other things, “No one knows how many lives her work may have helped save.” Talking about Katherine Johnson and her work, and no one can truly tally just many lives she saved, and no one probably even mentions it.
Title: Shin’s Tricycle
Author: Tatsuharu Kodama
Illustrator: Noriyuki Ando
Publisher and Year: Doshin-Sha 1992
Number of Pages: 30
Tags/Theme: Culture, Emotion, Family, Non-fiction, 3-8, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This story is about a family in Japan during World War 2. Shin is a three year old boy that really wanted a tricycle but because of the war a lot of the toys and other metal in Japan went towards making tanks and other war materials. Then his uncle came in and brought him his old tricycle and Shin was ecstatic. He was outside playing with it one day and then the unthinkable happened, a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Shin was trapped and his parents had to free him, he was breathing but his two siblings weren’t as lucky. His parents cared for him until he died shortly after. This is a true story, Shin’s tricycle is in a museum in Japan to remind everyone that war is not the answer.
Classroom Application: This story could be used to show kids the effects of war on everyday citizens, and also on World War 2 and the effects of dropping the atomic bombs on Japan. This is a tragic story, but it is true which makes it land very hard.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: The book itself isn’t too difficult to read, but the content is very hard hitting which is why it might be more appropriate for older kids that are learning about World War 2, “Wars are always brutal. No matter who starts one, innocent people always die-even children like Shin.” Shin was a real boy and he died just before his fourth birthday. It’s a tragic story and it’s very sad to read, “Maybe if enough people could see Shin’s tricycle, they would remember that the world should be a peaceful place where children can play and laugh.” Hoping Shin’s tricycle being put on display at a museum will help people realize that peace is essential.
Title: As Good as Anybody
Author: Richard Michelson
Illustrator: Raul Colon
Publisher and Year: Alfred A. Knopf 2008
Number of Pages: 34
Tags/Theme: Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Non-fiction, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: This story starts out with a young Martin Luther King Jr. and him living with segregation and how it’s not fair to all people to treat people like this. Then he grows up and becomes a Pastor like his father and starts lobbying for civil rights. Then it goes to Abraham Joshua Heschel in Poland and how he had to deal with segregation for being Jewish. Then he grew up and came to America and along with Martin Luther King Jr. marched for freedom.
Classroom Application: This story could be used to introduce Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and also teach about Abraham Joshua Heschel. This story also can be used to teach that if you want something to change for the better that you should do something about it like these two men did.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book could be used to generate discussion on the civil rights movement and its leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.. It could also be used to discuss the discrimination against jews in Europe. It sends a good message throughout, at the beginning Martin’s father tells him, “You’re looking down when you should be looking up.” He’s telling him to keep his chin up and be proud of who you are because you are someone, and everyone is someone. Another good quote from this is, “Walk like a prince, not like a peasant.” It brings the same message of keep your head up and be proud of who you are. Abraham’s father told him that and Abraham made sure to walk with his head up.
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: In the Time of the Drums
Author: Kim L. Siegelson
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Publisher and Year: Hyperion Books for Children 1999
Number of Pages: 30
Tags/Theme: Award Book, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, K-5, Joe Marras
Descriptive Annotation: There is a older woman, Twi, and her grandson, Mentu, and they are on an island near the Teakettle Creek where ships often land to bring slaves to work on the islands plantations. Mentu was born on the island, but Twi was born in Africa and longs for her home. She teaches Mentu a lot of his culture and to respect and cherish his culture. One day a Spanish ship lands with Ibo people on it and they are singing for their home, and it rings hard with Twi and calls to her. It urges her to journey home, so she joins hands with the Ibo people and leads them into the Teakettle Creek and walk down and through the water towards their home. They soon disappear in the water and hopefully to their homes.
Classroom Application: This story is good for the class probably during Black History Month, but also any time of the year. This book can introduce slavery, but also teach about how important it is to hold on to culture and cherish and celebrate it and never let it go no matter how hard things get.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story is a Gullah tale that has been passed down orally for generations, so this story shows another culture and can introduce slavery to younger kids, and also African cultures, “Because then the old ways will try to grow weak inside of you. Don’t let ‘em! Takes a mighty strength not to forget who you are. Where you come from. To help others remember it, too.” Twi is telling Mentu that it is important to remember who he is and how important that is and to not forget it no matter how hard things get. I think this is an important lesson to remember and celebrate cultures.
“ “we are home! We are home!” the people drummed. But they were far from home.” This helps show that this book has a sad, but real and truthful tone. The author doesn’t dress anything about slavery up, and shows it in its true colors which I think makes the message so much stronger and real.