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Refugees and Migrants: April 2017 Intermediate

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | April - (Comments Off on Refugees and Migrants: April 2017 Intermediate)

Two White Rabbits by Jairo Buitrago. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Translated from the Spanish by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books / House  of Anansi Press, 2015

“When we travel, I count what I see … One little bored donkey and fifty birds in the sky … the people who live by the train tracks.” A singular and extraordinary picture book pairs the matter-of-fact of a voice of a young girl giving a childlike accounting of the journey she and her father are taking with detailed color illus-trations that show the context and content of their travels. They are journeying away from their home and toward some unknown that surely represents safety, and, one can imagine, freedom and opportunity. However, none of this is stated in a narrative firmly grounded in the child’s voice. From riding atop her father’s shoulders to crossing a river on a raft, sitting on top of a train car to sleeping in the back of a pickup truck, the challenges and potential dangers of their travels are revealed through the art, in which the warmth between father and child is also apparent. So, too, is the weight of the father’s worry, although he is clearly trying to keep it from being her burden, too. Tender, heartbreaking, exceptional, this volume concludes with a note about the movement of refugees across Central America and Mexico toward the United States.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What significance do rabbits play in this story? What other animals have significant roles in the story? What do those animals represent?
  2. Why do you think the girl overlooked how difficult her family situation was?
  3. Use the question at the back of book: What do those of us who have safe comfortable lives owe to people who do not?

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord. Scholastic Press, 2015

Lily has never given much thought to the migrant workers who harvest blueberries in her Maine community. Then she meets Salma Santiago, and they become friends. When Salma, with Lily’s support, decides to enter the local Blueberry Queen contest—the first migrant child ever to do so—Lily’s friend Hannah offers to help, despite also being in the competition. In the hands of a less skilled author, this premise would turn into mean girl drama, but Cynthia Lord is sure-handed in a novel that focuses first and foremost on the deepening friendship between Lily and Salma but doesn’t freeze out Hannah. Lily, whose single mother died when she was two, wants her tightly contained world to be fixable when it isn’t predictable. She’s saving money so her dog, Lucky, can have cataract surgery, because she is convinced he’s miserable. Salma can’t control many things about her life, but her family is a reassuring constant. The same is true of Lily’s grandparents, but Lily misses not having a mother. Nuanced, fully realized characters and a well-developed story arc distinguish this quiet, satisfying novel in which Lily begins to see her life not in terms of what is missing, but rather what she has.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why is it good to try new things? Why is it good to let other things go? Give some examples from the book of a time that a character tried something new? Let go?
  2. What did you learn about where your food comes from? How did the migrant lifestyle impact each girl’s life?
  3. What does each girl learn from the other?

Find discussion guides and more resources for Two White Rabbits and A Handful of Stars at TeachingBooks.net!

Refugees and migrants: “The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations.” Learn more from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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A New Year! Start it Right with these January 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles

December 15th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | 2015-2016 | January - (Comments Off on A New Year! Start it Right with these January 2016 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Titles)

lion and the birdThe Lion and the Bird by Marianne Duboc. Translated Icon_PreSchoolfrom the French by Claudia Z. Bedrick. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion, 2014.

A picture book of great tenderness begins with a lion raking his yard. When a bird from a flock flying high overhead is injured, the lion bandages the bird’s wing, but the flock moves on — autumn is clearly waning. So the lion and the bird spend a snug winter together, warm in his cozy home, sometimes venturing out for some cold-weather fun, the bird tucked into his mane. “It snows and snows. But winter doesn’t feel all that cold with a friend.” Spring brings warm weather, and the return of the other birds. It’s time for the lion and the bird to part. Time passes, lion carries on his solitary life, then it’s autumn again and he wonders about his friend. There is an absence, an ache, and, finally, sweet joy. Marianne Dubuc’s picture book is told largely through beautifully composed, muted illustrations that make use of both full-page spreads and spot illustrations surrounded by white space, with brief lines of lovely narrative punctuating the images every so often. There is a film-like quality to the visual storytelling in this rich, emotionally resonant tale.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Read & Talk: On the wordless spreads, ask your child to describe what is happening. Let your child have time with this activity. Use a bookmark so you can come back to the story. Ask your child what their favorite season is and why?
  • Write: Together with your child, write a letter to someone they love that lives far away and take a trip to the post office to mail your letter. Create a bookmark for the book.
  • Play: Take care of a friend, toy, or imaginary friend by hosting a tea party. Find out what they like they to eat. Act out some of the activities in the book like fishing, sledding, and gardening.
  • STEM: Provide dried beans or seeds. Feel them, count them, sort them or plant them in a cup. While sorting, create charts and graphs.

Nest by Jorey Hurley. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster,nest 2014.

A single word per double-page spread takes very young children through a year in the life cycle of a robin, from “nest” to “hatch” to “explore,” eventually ending with another “nest.” The simple narrative is an accompaniment to the uncluttered, striking, stylized illustrations, each of which is an artful work of graphic design. The art strongly and realistically conveys the beauty of the changing seasons and the drama within and beyond the natural world, as on the “jump” page, where the robins sit in a tree just out of the reach of an eager and interested cat, or “surprise,” which as a purple kite on a taut string flying above their treetop resting place. An author’s note provides additional information about robins.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

  • Talk: Talk about the four seasons with your child.
  • Sing: Sing “Two Little Blackbirds Sitting in a Tree”. Now replace blackbirds with robins and other birds.
  • Write: Collect leaves. Ask children to trace the different parts of leaves – stem, outline, veins – with their fingers. Point out curved and straight lines on the leaves and how letters are made of straight and curved lines.
  • STEM: Go for a walk and observe nature. When spring comes, place four inch strands of yarn on tree branches for nest building. Discuss the order of the events in the book.

Find more early literacy activities from the Youth Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association’s 2015 Early Literacy Calendar created by Youth Services librarians across Wisconsin.

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