Monday, November 7, 2011

Picture Book Month: Pairing Up Children's Books with Social Studies

A book like Warriors Don't Cry for 8th grade is powerful because it's a memoir from someone who lived through and journaled their way through integration. She lived history. Another advantage is that the events are fairly recent and many of the participants are still alive so there are numerous primary resources out there so that students are immersed in multiple perspectives and after the fact reflections.

The front loading children's book was Ruby Bridgesbut during the reading of Warriors Don't Cry, I like to bring in more children's books for additional perspectives and to supplement some of the Jack Daws photos that they're using in social studies. If you are able to team with the social studies teacher, they can actually use these books in social studies.

Aaron Reynolds and Floyd Cooper tell the story of Rosa Parks' arrest through the eyes of a young boy riding with his Mama on the same Montgomery, Alabama bus.

What it looks like in the Middle:
 The marble that he plays with and his Mama's strong chin hint at a deeper message and a growing awareness in the boy that middle school students will be able to talk about as they're learning about the struggles that the Little Rock 9 students are facing in Warriors Don't Cry.

Summary: Poet Nikki Giovanni writes this tribute to Rosa Parks by writing about her courageous act as well as the events that followed it.

What it looks like in the Middle:
When Rosa is waiting for the police to come, she is thinking about the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling and a question that comes up in our discussion has to do with the idea of her "tiredness." What are some of those daily struggles during this time that were so overwhelming and how did people react? How would you react?

Another interesting conversation around this children's book is just about Bryan Collier's cut-paper illustrations. "Reading" the illustrations leads to inferring through perspective, angle, and meaning-making just around the art.

Summary: This book by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander chronicles the events preceding, during and following the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

What it looks like in the Middle:
James Ransome's collage type illustrations based on historical photographs as well as things like pull out pages really are the key to the book. His illustrations juxtapose in a haunting way with the sing song quality of the writing.
We talk about the pictures, the anger, the confederate flag, the cut up technique of the collage method and how it shows tone in a piece. Although it's not through writing, the tone conversation is a good seque to our mini lessons on creating tone in student writing.

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