Posts tagged fairness/equity

Addie On the Inside

            Addie on the Inside

             by James Howe

Addie Carle, activist extraordinaire, wakes worrying about states of matters: the state of the world, the state of middle school, the state of her relationship, the state of her friends.  Her voice is too loud for most people.   Her clothes are too blah for others.  And she tries her hardest to ignore whispers asking why he is going out with her.  But Addie has a rich internal mind, and she just can’t help caring about the world.

“I worry about/injustice and/ how to make the world/ a better place,/ because I contend/ that if you are not part/ of the solution,/ you are part/ of the problem./” she says in the second poem of this novel-in-verse.  “I worry how in the world/ the world will ever be okay. Then/I turn off my alarm/ and get on with the day” (p. 7, 9).

Addie wears duct tape over her mouth on her school’s first (unapproved) day of silence.  She responds emotionally to terrible news articles she reads, and isn’t afraid to say it aloud in class.  People don’t always understand her, and this book is rife with Addie’s internal turmoil about how own actions and thoughts and their discrepancy with others’.

With Addie, James Howe brings back one of his characters from anti-bullying groundbreaker The Misfits, offering a very personal look at a socially conscious middle school girl.  Recommended for middle schools (I probably won’t get this for my K-5), Addie On the Inside will appeal to students for its spot-on views of social dynamics, a respectful look at a middle school relationship, and a portrayal of Addie’s need to both fit in and find her own way.  Addie is hard not to like, although middle school students will also understand how others don’t “get” her.   Novels in verse are also a great choice for those who want light reading, but who are ready for real substance.

Curriculum Connections:

Questions for students-

How would Addie fit in in your school?  How would people react to the things she says?  What are some words you would use to describe her?

Do you think Addie approaches social change in a positive way?  What happens when she does or says something (like criticizing the abusive star , or creating a Gay Straight Alliance)?  How do her methods for approaching social change work or not work?  What are the best ways to create social change, and to be a champion at your school?

How does a novel written in poetry give us a different experience than a novel written in prose?  Is it more personal?  Easier to read?  Harder?  How could you go about writing your own novel in verse?

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Each Living Thing

Each Living Thing

 

by Joanne Ryder

illustrated by Ashley Wolff

 picture book

 

The outdoors is filled with creatures, both small and large, going about their lives in tandem with human activity.  Each Living Thing reminds us, in simple rhyming phrases, to watch out for every living thing on earth.  Each colorful illustration depicts different children going about daily life (carrying out recycling, planting vegetables, swimming, etc.) and encountering animals in their natural habitats.  Straightforward text encourages readers to do what they can to respect and care for each animal, reminding them to look out for “streaming ants who streak the dusty trails – please step around their sandy towers,” and to watch out for “toads who lurch and leap across the road – please stop to let them pass.”  The ending message to watch out for each living thing advises us to “Be aware of them.  Take care of them.  Be watchful.  Let them be.” 

Each Living Thing is a reminder of the importance of being mindful of all the living things around us.  Just right for young children who may not want to let animals pass without picking them up or taking them home, this book shows a respectful (sometimes wary?) view of wild animals and examines of our role as caretakers of the environment.

 

Curriculum Connections:

Before a nature walk, read Each Living Thing to children as a reminder of some of the animals they may see and of the respectful ways to treat these animals.  During the walk, point out the benefits of leaving these animals to do what they need to do (spiders spin webs that catch pests, etc.).

Have children create a guidebook for others on ways to be respectful toward wild animals. For example, a child could draw a picture or write instructions for capturing a spider with paper and setting it outside instead of killing it.

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No!

No!

David McPhail

picture book


How much can you say with just one word? David McPhail’s almost-wordless picture book No! begins with a boy stamping an envelope addressed simply to “the President.”  He puts on his coat and travels down empty, war-torn streets.  Fighter jets streak overhead while tanks and soldiers appear on the road.  As the boy silently continues on his way, somber-faced people peer out of windows.  One man defaces a picture of the president, and a policeman and his wolf-like dog angrily chase him.  When the boy reaches the mailbox, there is a bigger boy (a bully) leaning against it.  The bully knocks off the boy’s hat, and the boy finally says the book’s one, powerful word, “No.”  “No?” says the bully, scratching his head.  As the bully leans aggressively toward the boy again, the boy then shouts “No!”  The bully is stunned by his word and sits on the ground while the boy mails his letter.

As he returns down the street he walked before, the boy sees the policeman smiling, and his dog licking the face of the man they were chasing.  The soldiers have wrapped presents in their hands instead of guns, and a tank pulls a farmer’s plow up a hill.  Planes release a parachute holding a bicycle, which the (former) bully and the boy untangle and ride together, finally friends.

Curriculum Connections:

Simultaneously dark and empowering, No! symbolically shows how one person can make a difference.  When the boy says “No,” and then sends his letter to the President, he affects an instant and perceptible change in the world.  Illustrated in soft, sketchy drawings in the tradition of Maurice Sendak, No! can spark discussions of ways we can change the world, and gives the message that immense problems can sometimes be changed by the simple act of standing up to things that are wrong and saying “No.”

While it is appropriate for all ages, No! may be best used with older students (grades 3+)when covering local or world conflicts that are overwhelming and discouraging.  There are many people in the world who have, in essence, said “no” to things they don’t believe in, and this book would be a good introduction to a biography unit on people who have stood up for the things in which they believe.

No! connects well with letter-writing campaigns and any movement toward social or political change.  Use it (specifically mentioning the letter to the president) to discuss of the importance of speaking up about ways to positively change the world in addition to saying no to negative actions or behaviors.

No! could also be appropriate when discussing bullying behavior and examining the ways bullying can escalate.  When the boy refuses to accept or internalize the bully’s behavior, he stops it.  While the bully exhibits negative behavior, he is still a boy, and a boy with whom friendship is still possible.  There is a parallel between the behaviors of one person and one political entity.

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Almost Zero

  Almost Zero


a Dyamonde Daniel book by Nikki Grimes

chapter book

When Dyamonde Daniel admires her classmate Tameeka’s new pink high-top sneakers, Tameeka tells her the key to getting a pair of her own. “Why don’t you tell your mom to buy you some,” she says.  “That’s what I do.  If I need something, I tell my mom to get it….She’s my mom, and it’s her job to get me whatever I need.”  Dyamonde goes home and does just that.  The next thing she knows, her mom has packed away her closet, once full of clothes, and has left her with what she really needs: the clothes on her back.  Dyamonde suffers and complains through mustard stains and washing her clothes in the sink until she hears that her classmate Isabel’s apartment has been destroyed by a fire.  Isabel’s family has lost everything, and Dyamonde comes to understand the difference between want and need as she organizes the community to help Isabel’s family by holding a clothing drive.

Curriculum Connections:

Almost Zero is the third book in this beginning chapter book series, and addresses core sustainability concepts, including community action, want vs. need, and personal initiative for making life better for all.

What does want vs. need mean?  What does Dyamonde want and what does she need?  Is it easy for people to get this mixed up? How does Isabel’s misfortune help teach Dyamonde about what people really need?

Dyamonde organizes a clothing drive to help Isabel’s family.  Have you done anything like this? What are other ways one person can act to make a difference?

Do the people in your community get most of what they need?  What could your community do to better help people get the things they need?

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Seeds of Change: planting a path to peace

Seeds of Change: planting a path to peace

By Jen Cullerton Johnson

Illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler

picture book biography

“Wangari had an idea as small as a seed but as tall as a tree that reaches for the sky.  Harabee! Let’s work together!’ she said to her fellow countrywomen…” (Johnson, page 24)

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004, is known for her Green Belt Movement in Kenya, in which she enlisted hundreds of women to plant trees.  Together, they worked against corrupt officials and greedy businesspeople to improve the quality of life for all. Seeds of Change: planting a path to peace is the story of Maathai’s childhood as a precocious learner, her studies as a college student, her work with women and children in Kenya and, finally, her outreach throughout the world.

Curriculum Connections:

Biography units are widespread in education.  Studying Maathai’s biography would be a great connection with studies on environmentalism, social justice, and creating an effective movement.  This book also highlights the important work she did as a woman and for women’s rights.  The economic benefits for the women planting trees can be examined when looking at the sustainability of the movement itself.

Literature connections can be made with other biographies on Maathai, including picture book Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter and, for high school students and adults, Unbowed, a memoir by Wangari Maathai.

Connections can be made when doing greening up projects and tree plantings, or as a positive approach to studies on deforestation and land-use or natural resource issues.  Humans cause damage, but can also help repair it.  We can learn much by being inspired, and Maathai does inspire!

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Crunch

CrunchCrunch

Crunch

by Leslie Connor

fiction

What would you do if all the gas pumps ran dry?  For Dewey Marriss, that question suddenly becomes very important.  His parents are stuck up north on an anniversary trip and are unable to get back without fuel.  Dewey and his siblings – 18 year old artist Lil, 13 year old mechanical genius Vince, and five year old twins Angus and Eva – are stuck making it on their own.  Bicycles become the main mode of transportation in town, and as people bike up and down the deserted highway, the family’s small bike repair business suddenly booms.  Now, Dewey must figure out how to keep up with way too many bike repairs, deal with irritable customers, and figure out how to get through daily life without his parents’ help. Then, things begin to go strangely missing from the bike shop.  Can Dewey stay afloat with the business, take care of the twins, and solve the mystery of the thefts?  And when will his parents come home?

Crunch shows us a scenario in which people must adapt to living in a world with minimal fuel.  It deals with a modern situation with an old-fashioned feel, being both a mystery and a family story.  Dewey has a tight-knit family and community, and his newfound independence and responsibility show the ways in which this experience changes him.

Curriculum Connections:

How can we best deal with the challenges that come our way?  Dewey finds that bicycles are a great way to get around when gas runs low.  He discovers that even though the world changes, there are ways that communities can help each other and adapt to get what they need.  How would his experience have been different if he’d lived in a city?  The rural countryside?  How would your community come together to help people get along?

What challenges might we face in the future?  What are ways we can use our knowledge to overcome them, and how can we plan ahead to make our communities more sustainable? 

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