Tag Archives: Poetry

The Dreamer

Title:  The Dreamer

Author: Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrator: Peter Sis

Publisher/Year: Scholastic Press, 2010

Number of Pages: 355

Tags/Themes:  Adventure, Award Book, Chapter Book, Emotion, Culture, Diversity, Family, Poetry, Historical Fiction, 4-5, Rebecca Cauthorn

 Genre: Historical Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  This book was based on the famous poet Pablo Neruda’s life, except we don’t know this until the end. This emotional story is for anyone who is an outcast, who feels different than other people, or feels like they are letting their family down. We meet a young boy, Neftali, who is a dreamer. He loves to write, daydream, and imagine. His father thinks he is an absent-minded fanatic, who will amount to nothing. The story begins when Neftali is eight, and ends when he goes off to college. We watch him struggling to find a balance between being himself while pleasing his father, and root for him as he discovers his passion and gift for writing. Illustrations are included at the beginning of the chapter and sporadically throughout the book, accompanied with poetry that Pablo Neruda wrote later in his life (of course, we do not know yet that it is our beloved Neftali’s poetry we are reading). This book also comments on the issues of displacing native peoples for development, and uses little Spanish phrases throughout. This book would be excellent for someone who had a Chilean background, or anyone who felt like their differences were a bad thing. It is easy reading, but very long, so would be most appropriate for a 4th or 5th grade classroom.

Classroom Application: This book would be a great asset to help students recognize that we are all important and smart even if we are good at different things. Neftali wasn’t very good at math, but a very creative writer and thinker. It would also be good to assist a lesson on Native Americans to demonstrate that this displacement is still going on and to raise the question of right versus wrong. Another way to incorporate this book into the curriculum would be to have an entire mini unit devoted to it—for math, we could use leaves and twigs to illustrate multiplication by grouping, for social studies, we could investigate the displacement of Native Americans and native people all over, and for reading/writing we could write poetry that Neftali would have written, and then teach a lesson on Pablo Neruda and his poetry. We could also include art into this lesson by cutting out construction paper into a leaf or a beetle or a swan and write a poem on it and hang them in the classroom.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book does an exceptional job of raising awareness of and cultivating discussions about cultural diversity. Within the book, many different viewpoints are discussed about the diversity in the town Neftali is from, and this could raise a very stimulating discussion which could expand the minds of students. The depiction of Neftali as a dreamer who is on the outside is also very beneficial to the classroom to recognize that everyone is unique and awesome in their own way. Overall, this book contains a wide cultural vocabulary, from the Spanish words and the Chilean setting, to the discussion of native people, to the differences of Neftali from other boys and girls.

The Skin You Live In

Title – The Skin You Live In

Author(s) – Michael Tyler

Illustrator/Photographer – David Lee Csicsko

Publisher and Year – Chicago Children’s Museum, April 1, 2005

Number of pages – 32 pages

Tags/Themes – Rylie Loux, Culture, Diversity, Emotion, Family, Friendship, Poetry, K-5

Genre – Poetry

Descriptive Annotation: This story is a story which explores the concept of skin to encourage self-esteem and to celebrate the ways in which children are both unique and similar. This story uses different activities, metaphors, and examples to show children that everyone is valuable.

Classroom Application: This book can be used in the classroom to to teach children about diversity, cultures other than their own, accepting themselves the way that they are and accepting others. An important quote from the story is “Glows when it shows that it knows we love you skin.” This is an opportunity to compare skin tones and talk about how they are all beautiful. Another way to incorporate this into learning would be to have each student write something that they love about themselves as well as all of their classmates. This creates an inclusive classroom and allows the students to express what they love about each other.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. On one page, the author portrays an African American little girl with the text “Hey, look at your skin” and on the next page is a Caucasian boy doing the exact same thing with text saying “The wonderful skin YOU live in.” This quote related to the themes that are presented including are friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity. There are also children’s activities for all cultures, such as swimming in the ocean, hugging, catching butterflies, and eating birthday cake. The major theme of this book is body positivity, and encouraging the idea that even though we all look different, we are all worthy.

Pink is for Boys

Title – Pink is for Boys

Author(s) – Robb Pearlmann

Illustrator/Photographer – Eda Kaban

Publisher and Year – Running Press Kids, June 5, 2018

Number of pages – 40 pages

Tags/Themes – Rylie Loux, Diversity, Emotion, Friendship, Poetry, K-5

Genre – Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: This story is a story explaining the importance of boys and girls can love the same colors and interests. For each new color, Pearlman shares an example of where to find the color whether that be on sports uniforms, crowns, race cars, or teddy bears. This notion is demonstrated with illustrations of boys and girls in all examples.

Classroom Application: This book can be used in the classroom to set the expectations and standards at the beginning of the year. It is important for students to know that boys and girls can like the same things. This is a standard that a teacher will want to set at the beginning of the year so that students understand and grasp the idea that is being presented in the story and connecting that to their classroom. It is also very important for all students to feel welcome and comfortable in their classroom. This book is multicultural and all inclusive. Using this story to set the tone, can help all students feel welcome.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book starts out saying “Pink is for boys. And girls.” This books is an important message for young ones, early on in life, to aid in explaining that girls and boys can love all the colors. This story aims at the importance of acceptance, that colors are for everyone, regardless of gender, race and cultural expectations. This book challenges gender norms and encourage kids to enjoy whatever colors or hobbies that make them happy.  The pictures in this story do the talking. Later on in the story it says, “And all the colors are for EVERYONE. Girls and boys.” This story provides a powerful message that life is not color-coded.

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems

Title: My Chinatown: One Year in Poems

Author(s): Kam Mak

Illustrator/Photographer: Kam Mak

Publisher and Year: Harper Collins Publishers 2002

Number of pages: 30

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

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: My Chinatown is a book of poems that follows a boy through a year in a Chinatown in America. He laments about the differences between his new home and his old home in China. He talks about many different aspects of Chinese culture, and the differences and similarities between the versions in America and the versions in China. At the beginning, he is resentful of America, but begins to enjoy it as the book progresses. It is written in free verse style poetry and the illustrations appear to be done in acrylics. There are no special features and students should have a good grasp on figurative language before they read this book.

Classroom Application: This text connects to a social science unit on China. It talks about many things that are important in the Chinese culture. The author talks about Chinese food, games, holidays, and other activities. Students could use this book to compare Chinese culture with their own or to compare life in Chinatown to life in China. This book could also be used in a Writing Workshop as an example of free verse poetry and expressive language.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book talks about a lot of aspects of Chinese culture, both in China and in Chinatown, USA. Students can gain an appreciation for Chinese culture through reading this book. A discussion could be had about immigration and leaving your home behind for a new country, particularly one that has an area that is sort-of like your home country, but not exactly the same. In the book, it says, “But I don’t want to go to school, where the English words taste like metal in my mouth.” It also says, “When we left Hong Kong, we had to pack quick. So many things got left behind-a country, a language, a grandmother, and my animal chess game.”

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors

Title: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors

Author(s): Hena Khan

Illustrator/Photographer: Mehrdokht Amini

Publisher and Year: Scholastic Inc. 2012

Number of pages: 21

Tags/Themes: Allison Henry, Culture, Family, Fiction, Holidays, Picture Book, Poetry, K-1, 2-3, Social Science

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Descriptive Annotation: Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns follows a young girl as she explains the what the colors in her world are. Each page talks about a color and what object in the young girl’s religion are that color. A background knowledge of Muslim terms would be helpful, but there is a glossary in the back that defines many of the words. Each page is two sentences long and the sentences have end rhyme.

Classroom Application: This text can be used in the social sciences when talking about different religions. It could also be used to explain part of the culture of a student that is Muslim. This book could be used to introduce a unit on different religions and/or holidays, because it does talk a little about both Ramadan and Eid.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: As stated in the classroom application section, this text can be used to teach students about the Muslim religion. It is a brief introduction, so it could prompt students to look deeper into this religion or prompt them to ask questions and potentially research other religions. It can also be used in a unit on holidays as it says, “Brown is a date, plump and sweet. During Ramadan, it’s my favorite treat.” It also talks about Eid, “Purple is an Eid gift just for me. I open it up and love what I see.”

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.