Children’s Books

All posts tagged Children’s Books

Rosa, by Nikki Giovanni

Published March 22, 2015 by Dagmar

There are so many incredible books to share during African-American History Month.  This compelling book made a real impression on me and on my fourth graders.

rosaRosa is a dramatic retelling of Rosa Parks’ story.  It begins with Rosa going to work at her job as a seamstress in the alterations department.  She is good spirits, and her supervisor has let her leave work early.  When Rosa gets on the bus, she sits in the neutral section, the area where both blacks and whites can sit.  As she sits, she thinking about the meal she’ll prepare for her husband that evening.  Suddenly, she hears the bus driver yell, “I said give me those seats!”.  This exclamation, coming after such a peaceful beginning to the story is a jolt, to the reader, to the listeners, and, you can imagine, to Mrs. Parks, daydreaming after a day’s work.  The other black people in the neutral section slip back to the crowded black section of the bus, trying to avoid trouble.  Mrs. Parks watches them go but decides that she will just sit.

Nikki Giovanni wraps the story of Rosa Parks in the history of the time: the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education that stated that separate was “inherently unequal” and the death of Emmet Till, a fourteen-year-old boy who was lynched in Mississippi, shortly after the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling.   It was these events and Mrs. Parks’ courageous action and arrest that led supporters band together with the Women’s Political Council, the NAACP and local churches.  The people gathered selected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as their spokesman.  Together, they chose to stay off the buses of Montgomery.  They walked in every kind of weather, at all times of day, every day.  On November 13, 1956, a year after Rosa Parks’ arrest, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was also illegal.

“Rosa Parks said no so that the Supreme Court could remind the nation that the Constitution of the United States makes no provision for second-class citizenship.  We are all equal under the law and are all entitled to its protection.”

Giovanni’s retelling of this important moment in African-American history is presented with the incredible illustrations of Bryan Collier.  This book won the Caldecott Honor in 2006.

Please don’t miss this great book.  African-American history month is over now; but, as a friend of mine correctly said, sharing the messages of this book is important all year long.

Bad Day at Riverbend, by Chris Van Allsburg

Published October 19, 2014 by Dagmar

bad dayChris Van Allsburg is a great picture book author that my students love. His books, usually drawn in black and white, which include: Widow’s Broom, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi and The Z was Zapped are always favorites.  A Bad Day at Riverbend is not immediately identifiable as a Chris Van Allsburg, because it’s full of color. The way it introduces color makes my students, even the most obedient ones, cry out in dismay.

The town of Riverbend is in trouble.  Riverbend looks like a coloring book.  Everything is white,  outlined in black.  Now, something very strange and scary is happening in Riverbend.  Lines of color, like scribbles, are covering things.  Stagecoaches rarely come to town, but now a stagecoach has stopped in town… without a driver.  It is covered in a slimy, colored substance. No one knows what it could be.  The town’s residents are scared.  What  Luckily, Sheriff Ned Hardy is on the trail.

Read this wonderful book to find out what is threatening the town of Riverbend.  My students loved the ending!

The Most Magnificant Thing, by Ashley Spires

Published October 17, 2014 by Dagmar

For those of us who see ourselves as inventors, scientists, or just creative types, we know the frustration of tryThe Most Magnificenting to recreate the vision in our heads.  So it goes for a “regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world.”

The girl sets out to build the “most magnificent thing”, “easy-peasy”.  She gathers materials, hires an assistant (her dog) and starts to build.  When she is finished, she is “shocked to discover that the thing isn’t magnificent.”  Determined to get it right, she tinkers, adjusts, examines and builds many things.  None of them fit the image in her head; and, needless to say, none of them are magnificent.  Finally, she gets MAD.  Completely losing her patience with the creative process, she starts smashing, jamming and pummeling her creation and in the process smashes her finger.  “It is not her finest moment.”  Her assistant, the essence of calm, holding his leash in his mouth, suggests a walk to clear her head.  She has a hard time calming down, but after a while, “the mad gets pushed out of her head.”  She starts to see some good elements in each of her earlier designs and sets out to try again.  Finally, she finishes her creation.  It isn’t exactly what she imagined, but turns out to be a most magnificent thing.

I think everyone that reads this book will totally relate to this girl’s emotions as she creates her magnificent thing.  Ashley Spires is not only a gifted author, but also a very gifted illustrator.  I loved absolutely loved this book, and so did my students.

Dogs and Cats, by Steve Jenkins

Published August 4, 2013 by Dagmar

dogsandcatsDo you prefer dogs or cats? Many people have strong preference for one or the other.  Well, here’s the book for you.  Whether you prefer dogs or cats, here’s a great opportunity for you to learn more about both.  This book is a “flip book”.  Start reading about dogs, then flip the book over and read about cats – or visa versa.

This book provides loDogs and catsts of great information dogs and cats, including  the number of breeds, their origin, behavior, their expressions, how they grow and other interesting facts.  On each dog page in the corner, there is a fact about cats that relates to the information on the page and visa versa.  There is even a page on how dogs and cats interact in the wild and in a home.

The beauty of this book is the way it presents information in small, digestible amounts.  If you know a child that loves animals, this might be a great choice for them.

Ask Mr. Bear, by Marjorie Flack

Published July 12, 2013 by Dagmar

askmrbearHere is an old fashioned but very sweet book that is always a hit with my preschoolers.  Although the illustrations are dated, there is good preschool-level suspense when Danny goes into the woods to talk to a bear.

Danny wants to buy a gift for his mother for her birthday.  He asks a hen, goose, goat, sheep, cow and then finally a bear what to give his mother.  The bear gives the best answer, a hug.

Greek Myths and Legends, by Graphic Universe

Published July 9, 2013 by Dagmar

graphic universeOne of my favorite genres is the graphic novel.  I have many students who are graphic novel devotees and will read anything written in this format, including mythology and American history.

My students are big fans of The Olympians series of graphic novels.  They’ve read all the books in the series that I have in the library (Zeus, Hades, Hera, Athena and Poseidon).  They are eagerly awaiting the newest book in the series, Aphrodite.

Thank goodness for Graphic Universe and their series of Greek mythological tales.  They’ve helped quench my students’ thirst for Greek myths.  These graphic novels include myths like Jason: Quest for the Golden Fleece; Theseus: Battling the Minotaur; Trojan Horse: The Fall of Troy, Perseus: The Hunt for Medusa’s Head and others.

While these tales are a quick read (I often get them back the same day I check them out), there are quite a few of them and they do a great job broadening my students’ understanding of Greek myths.  Written by various authors and drawn by various artists, these books bring these stories to life in a dramatic and exciting way.  I would recommend them to any mythology or graphic novel fan.

Women of Hope: African Americans who Made a Difference, by Joyce Hansen

Published June 30, 2013 by Dagmar

Women of HopeI love to read parts of this book aloud to my students during African-American history month.  This book features quotes, black and white photographs and a page about many notable African-American women, including: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, The Delany Sisters, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ella Josephine Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruby Dee, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Marian Wright Eledman, Alica Walker, Alexa Canady, Mae C. Jemison with a list of more notable women in the back of the book.

This book makes a great resource for teachers or a wonderfully inspiring book for young people.  Read a page here and there, or read the entire book.  Either way, don’t miss it.