Many of you know my passion for kids books. I really don't see how you can go wrong with them. They appeal to all the senses, apply to life, and are written simply with great value! (At least the good ones are...) I've been adding to my "classroom collection" since I started college, with many thanks to garage sales, Goodwills, and other fabulous finds for $.50 or less! I've collected quite a number. Of boxes. Which was great for NC. But when it came to deciding which very few favorites my weight allowance would allow me to bring to the Land of Tanz... it was a sad day indeed. :(
My kids always laugh when I start reading a book. It seems like more times than not, I introduce the current selection as "this is one of my favorites." Or at least, "this person is one of my favorite authors." It's almost become a joke. Miss Lucas has a hundred favorite books! (Maybe I should start making a list)... But then again, I'm only reading the best ones aloud... so maybe what they're saying is true.
Recently, we started an author study of Patricia Polacco. Yep, she's another "one of my favorites." But, you have to understand. She writes and illustrates beautiful picture books that deal with big issues... things that are insightful and deep... books that are just as great for adults as they are for kids. All from her own experiences or those of her family. Want to look at life in concentration camps? Or the emotional difficulties of dyslexia? Supporting friends through trials like childhood cancer? Traditions handed down throughout the years? Yeah. She's got you covered. All at a level accessible to kids. What was the quote I once heard in Writing Children's Lit? Something like: The hardest books to write are those made for children - because you have to take all of life, the whole story, everything, and put it in just a few words and ways that the smallest child can understand.
Back to Polacco. We read through the book above and came across the following word picture from the story:
"Then, when Trisha started fifth grade, the school was all abuzz. There was a new teacher. He was tall and elegant. Everybody loved his striped coat and slick gray pants – he wore the neatest clothes."
In an effort to get my kids connected with the story, I had them draw their own image of Mr. Falker before seeing Polacco's illustration in the book. I learned that grade 3 fashion, or elegance and "neat clothes" in their eyes, have a whole different meaning than what I might have imagined! Here are a few of the examples...
|the short pants and hat look... with tassel on top!|
|mohawk... and goatee perhaps? only COOL guys teach math!|
|gotta have the glasses...|
|it's always revealing to see what kids pick up from class! Evidently, we read a lot of books... do a TON of math... and our clock only has seven hours on it!|
|is this a hippie Santa Clause? You've got to love the flower coming out of his head!|
|and my personal favorite... pants with rockets attached... and hair that's ready to take off!|