Biography

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“George Washington Carver”

Written By Tonya Bolden

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 41

When I think of biographies, I tend to think about a long chapter books with the dull information and facts. In school growing up, biographies never interested me, and I always thought it was a chore to read them. However, I have stumbled across a very interesting biography on the life of “The Peanut Man” (George Washington Carver/ GWC). This specific biography is appropriate for young readers. It contains very detailed facts about GWC’s life from birth to death. It details his life and education, and his journey to discover new uses for agriculture growth. Not only does this book lay out facts and information surrounding the life of GWC, but also this biography clears up some myths that surround his agricultural discoveries. Take a look at this biography of the amazing life and discoveries of George Washington Carver.

Now, thinking back to my experience with biographies in school, I hardly remember the books having several illustrations or pictures. The lack of pictures or illustrations throughout a dense text full of facts made most biographies hard to finish. However, this particular book has many different pictures throughout the text. All the pictures showcase the information accurately, and some of the pictures or illustrations are actual sketches from GWC. I picked this book because of the pictures that I saw when I flipped through the book at the library. After reading the book, I noticed the citation at the end, and the author accessed most of the pictures from different institutes from Tuskegee and Philadelphia. The pictures add to the book because the pictures are placed strategically to further the text and to smoothly break up the information packed text.

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Biographies have many uses in the classroom, and this biography of George Washington Carver can be used in many different ways in today’s classroom. Because of the text level and historical context, this book would be best used in upper elementary classrooms such as fifth or sixth grade. The first activity that I would use to accompany this text would be a science lesson. I would use this text to introduce a science lesson on plants and agriculture. Second, I would showcase GWC’s life pursuit to better use the Earth’s natural resources by incorporating this book into Earth Day lessons. Finally, the most effective integration of this biography into the classroom would be through teaching history. I would include this book during the teaching of the time periods of Reconstruction, Roaring Twenties, and Great Depression as well as Black History Month. Overall, biographies such as this one that are full of pictures as well as information prove to be useful in the classroom because they short enough to keep student’s interested.

Historical Fiction

“Freedom Summer”

Written by Deborah Wiles

Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Publisher: Antheneum Books for Young Readers

Copyright Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 32

Awards: John Steptoe Award & Ezra Jack Keats Award

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Historical Fiction is a genre of trade books that are crucial to a literacy rich classroom. To be classified as historical fiction, a book must have characters and settings that take place in a time period of the past. “Freedom Summer” is a trade book that takes place in the rural South in the early 1960’s during the time of desegregation and Civil Rights Movement. The story follows two friends who are enjoying summertime. These friends don’t see each other as colored and white, but they see each other as friends. They both love to swim, but the colored child cannot swim in the city pool. During the story, a desegregation law is passed, and the boys rush to the city pool. However, what they find at the city pool is not what they expected. Read this award winning book and see what the boys discover at the city pool.

The illustrations in this book are a mix of sketches and pastels, and they set the story perfectly. Lagarrigue won awards for New Talent in 2002 for his illustrations in this book. The illustrations add to the genre of historical fiction because the the characters have clothes that are appropriate to the the time period. Also, the illustrations depict the setting of rural South very accurately with the general store and creek drawings. Lagarrigue does a phenomenal job at capturing the setting, emotion, and attire of the time period of the 60’s in the rural South.

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This particular genre can be used in many ways in a classroom. Also, this book can be used across a wide range of grades from third to sixth grade. Some activities that I use along side this particular book include a  introduction to Black History Month. Likewise, when my class covered Civil Rights Movement in History, I would use this book to depict the segregation of public places. The students could draw a cluster map from the places in the book, and they will add places that they think were segregated during this time. Finally, this book is a great depiction of acceptance and tolerance of differences. I would have the students write as if they were the characters in the story. The students would write about the characters feelings about being different and segregation. This award winning book can be incorporated in the classroom in a variety of ways.

Informational Text

“Life on a Coral Reef”

Written by: Mary Jo Rhodes & David Hall

Photography by: David Hall

Publisher: Children’s Press

Copyright Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 48

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Trade books are essential for classrooms, but informational texts are just as necessary for a literacy rich classroom. However, like biographies, informational texts are usually dense texts that are a chore to read. Reading these texts are so tedious, and students tend to dread reading informational text. Scholastic is always publishing very student friendly books, and the genre of informational text proves to be no different. This book on the life on a coral reef is a perfect example of a student friendly informational text. Filled with colorful pictures, this books offers information in a manner that is easy to read. Important facts are highlighted throughout the text in captions, photographs, and in sidebars. Finally, the aspect that I love about this informational text is the bolded key terms that are defined in the glossary at the back of the book.

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Photos are a “go to” in informational texts, but sometimes the photos are just as dull as the dense information. All  the photos in this book are eye catching and full of color and texture. Likewise the photos highlight the information that is crucial to understanding life on a coral reef. The pictures display the wildlife and plant life that can be found on or around a coral reef. The placement of the pictures add to the overall flow of the book. The chapters are divided with full page pictures of fish and plants, and throughout the chapter, the pages are divided with pictures that include caption and sidebars. David Hall did a great job in his selection and placement of pictures throughout this text to give the information more depth in a visual way.

 Informational text can be implemented in the classroom in many different ways. this particular book would be used in a upper elementary classes. First,  I would use this is an example for a lesson on text features. The students would use photo copies of the text to search and find side bars and captions. Next, I would incorporate this informational text into a science unit on ocean habitats. I would have this book available during the lesson on coral reefs. This book can also be used in a lesson on research techniques, and the students would search through the text for facts to support their topic. The students would reference the book specifically to state their evidence.  “Life on a Coral Reef” is a great example of interesting informational text that can be productive as a tools for the classroom.

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Multicultural Book

“Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad”

Written by: Monica Edinger

Illustrated by: Robert Byrd

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Copyright Date: 2013

Number of Pages: 60

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To help broaden students understanding of diverse cultures around the world, multicultural trade books are essential to a literacy rich classroom. The book that stuck out to me while I was in the library was “Africa is My Home: A Child of the Amistad.” This story is told from the perspective of a little African girl who desperately wants to go back to Africa. She was a child that was aboard the Amistad which was a slave ship that was taken over by Africans. The Africans were put on trial to decide whether they would be sent back to their homeland or stay as slaves in America. Read this emotional tale of a child’s longing to be home and find out if she makes it home to Africa.

The illustrations in this great book are done in ink and watercolor. These pictures are soft to look at, but because of the ink, the details can still be seen. The content in this book could be depicted in a very gory manner; however, Byrd captures the essence of the difficult scenes in a less intense way through the chosen media. Also, Byrd captures the different cultures in an effective way. From the simple nature scenes when the character is in Africa to the congested city scenes in America, the illustrations help the reader distinguish the difference in culture. Altogether, the illustrations in this book help in the overall depiction of the story of the Amistad and Margru.

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Multicultural books are essential for students to have a board perspective about the world. this book would most likely be in a sixth grade classroom because of the length and content depth. I would use this book during a history lesson on slavery in the United States. The students would do a character analysis of Margru, and this analysis would help to give the nameless slaves that we study a face, name, and story for the students to relate to. Second, geography seems to be out the door in most classrooms today, and this book would be a bridge into a mini lessons on world geography. The book has a detailed map of Africa with capital cities of major countries. The children would label a map as a activity. Finally, I have direct experience with West Africans, and I would use this book to explain the difference in culture. The struggle the girl experiences when she comes to America would be a writing prompt for the students. “How would you feel if you were taken to a foreign country?” The students could put themselves in her shoes, and then they can better understand her struggle. Overall, this book has been my favorite so far to add to my blog list because of my heart for African Culture.