Well, we're finally back to school! To celebrate, I want to share some books that are just great for back to school. I know that this may be a little late for some of you but they are still great books that can be shared at any time of the year.
One Green Apple (Eve Bunting) is a beautifully written and illustrated exploration of the experiences of immigrant children in their new schools and countries. Told through the eyes of Farah, a young girl who speaks little English, it explores the thoughts and emotions that run through her head as she tries to understand a new language and a new culture. Not only wonderful for all of the connections some of your ELL students may make, it is also brilliant for transforming the thinking of your non-ELL students. Discussions stemming from this book will range from how to treat newcomers all the way up to a deeper understanding of the underlying similarities amongst all human experience. Truly a book for all ages.
I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick). I ordered enough copies of this book for Lit Circles and I am so excited about it! By now, Malala's story is well known - a young woman standing up for her right to an education is shot at point blank range and lives to tell about it. I firmly believe that we need to help our students develop an understanding of the world around them and provide them with the tools to think critically about the issues. Books like this one are an excellent vehicle to begin those discussions. I am really looking forward to those discussions!
A personal connection - our school has been actively involved in fundraising for Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan since it was started by a young woman in a nearby school. A natural fit, don't you think?
Priscilla and the Perfect Storm (Stephie McCumbee). Switching gears entirely here, this book (and it's associated activity guide) is a great one for teaching emotional intelligence. In this book, young Priscilla is a perfectionist who has a tendency to lose it if things don't go as planned, catching every one around her in one of her "perfect storms". Through some coaching from her mom, Priscilla learns to control her emotions and prevent the storms before they happen. Lots of learning to be had here, particularly for those little ones who have difficulty controlling their emotions. Would work really well with The Way I Feel and The Way I Act (Janan Cain; see Kristi's previous post here) to create series of lessons about managing your emotions. I can just imagine some of the fun role-playing that could be done!
The Garden In My Mind: Growing Through Positive Choices (Stephie McCumbee). From the same author as Priscilla comes this book about making positive choices. I like the flower garden on your head analogy - "grass withers and flowers fade every time a bad choice is made - and the fact that it gives some concrete steps for making positive choices. The final message is also a great one as it encourages students to help one another build healthy, beautiful gardens in their minds. It is a bit long, so might have to be broken up for younger students but there are lots of activities (either ones you come up with yourself or in an accompanying activity guide) that can be done to help students work on their garden. I would pair this one with one of Julia Cook's amazing books (to be featured at a later date!) - It's Hard to Be A Verb, My Mouth is a Volcano and more (also published by Boys Town Press) - to create another series of lessons, this time focused more on controlling your behaviour, rather than your emotions.
For everyone going back to school this week, we wish you the very best. It will feel so wonderful to be back working with the kids again!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about literacy, collaborative teaching and finding new and innovative ways to engage & motivate all kids. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!