Monday, August 31, 2009

Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

This is about a 3rd grade African American girl named Dyamonde. She is VERY smart and has a lot of attitude. She has just moved to a new city after her parents divorced and lives in a small apartment with her mom. When she gets home from school she goes to her neighbors until her mom gets off of work to bring her home. She is very upset because she had to move away from her best friend and has not found a new best friend at her new school and she has been there for 3 weeks. Later in the story there is a new boy that comes into her class name Free, and he is very angry and very rude to everyone. Dyamonde finally gets tired of his behavior and asks him what is bothering him. Obviously, he is very hesitant but eventually he opens up and tells her that his dad lost his job and they had to move there so he could find a new one. Realizing that they have something in common the two of them continue talking and become good friends.

I thought this was a good book that discussed a lot of common topics for children. It brought up families moving and having to move away from friends and also living with parents who are divorced and how that effects children. In the book it also talks about how Dyamonde loves math and how it is her favorite subject. I thought this was good for young girls because there has been a lot of emphasis on girls exceeding in reading and language classes and boys in math and science so I thought it was important for girls to see that it is ok to be good in thosee subjects. Dyamonde's friend Free that moves to the city tells her that his actual name is Reed Freeman but he has everyone call him Free because he got made fun of for his real name, Reed. When she asks him why he was made fun of he tells her it is because there aren't very many black people named Reed. I thought that was interesting and something that I would want to take into consideration if I was going to read this book in my future classroom. To me it was sounding as if there are "black" names and "white" names and that it is clear which are which. I was a little confused by this aspect of the book but perhaps it could be used as a teaching tool and could help discuss some points of views. It may help to discuss diversity but for me I didn't understand why the fact that Reed wasn't a commom black name caused him to change his name. I don't see why it was important to the story. Overall, I thought it was an interesting story and I think it would be good for children because a lot of the siuations can translate into their lives.

Don't Laugh, Joe by Keiko Kasza

This is a funny story about a possum (or opposum) who can't play dead. His mother is very concerned about him because that is a possums only defense from predators and she wants him to learn how to do it. However, when she tries to act like a bear, or a fox, or a wildcat Joe just thinks it is funny and laughs. His friends find it just as funny as he does but his mother is still very worried. When a real bear shows up Joe's mother is worried he will start laughing again but Joe does exactly what he is supposed to. Unfortunately, the bear is a cranky bear and was looking for Joe because he heard that he was funny and wanted to learn to laugh.

I thought this was a good book for children. I liked the way it brought up the topic of individuality and fitting in. When I was reading it I was trying to figure out where it was going to go and how it was going to be relatable but at the end it made sense and I thought that it brought in the importance of individuality unexpectedly which was a nice change. Using possums was an interesting change instead of using human characters and I think children would find that fun. The connection with the concept of individuality is subtle but I definitely think it is there. If not, it is an interesting start into learning about possums and how they survive in the wild.

Christmas Makes Me Think by Tony Medino

I loved this book! It is not your typical Christmas story but it is all about "finding the true meaning of Christmas." This little boy tells about how excited he is for Christmas to be coming and how he can't wait for all of the food his family will have, the big tree they will decorate, and all of the presents that will be piled under the tree. Then, the story switches and the boy starts thinking about what happens to the trees that don't make to next Christmas and why it is such a tradition to eat turkeys and pigs and chickens on Christmas. From there he begins talking about other people in his community that are not fortunate to have all of these things and how he feels it is better to help them out. He takes food to homeless shelters and offers warm clothing. Eventually, he shares some of his presents with them and finds out that together they can all have a great Christmas.

I thought this book was really sweet. I've heard plenty of stories about giving to others and understanding what Christmas is all about. However, this book included ideas about the environment and nature that I hadn't seen before. With everyone being environmentally friendly these days I thought it was interesting to think about all of the trees that are cut down each year for Christmas and what happens to them when Christmas is over. Also, I usually don't hear people talking about their food they have for Christmas and how one year it would be nice to feed a turkey or pig instead of eating one. It's a very subtle way of beginning discussions on bigger issues. On top of the newer ideas of environment and nature, the book also discusses the concept of community and how it is important to help people around you. I thought this book was really adorable and I could definitely see using it in the future!

I Have A Loose Tooth by Sally Noll

This is a typical story about a little girl named Molly and her loose tooth. Molly wakes up one day and finds out that she has a loose tooth and tries to tell anyone and everyone about it. However, because of various reasons no one seems to understand what she is saying. After several misunderstandings Molly learns that she can express herself in other ways instead of just speaking that may be more effective in getting her point across.

I thought this story was really cute and really relatable for children because everyone loses their teeth and everyone is misunderstood sometimes. What I thought was interesting was that at the end of the story Molly writes a letter with a picture to tell her family that she has a loose tooth. In my future classroom I could see using this book to initiate a discussion about different types of communication; sign language, brail, pictures, writing, etc. and discuss how and why people use them. I think it is a good way to discuss other ways to communicate that can often be more effective.

The Subway Mouse by Barbara Reid

This is a cute story about a mouse named Nib who lives in a mouse community underneath a subway. It is very loud and the choices for food are minimal but he loves having other mice around him for safety and for company. Every night the elderly rats tell stories of a place called Tunnel's End. In this "magical" land there is fresh air and an abundance of food. The problem is that most mice never make it to Tunnel's End. There are monsters on the way there and there is an extreme shortage of food. After hearing about this place night after night he decides that he wants to find this place and sets of to do so. The other mice tell him he will never make it and that he will have to turn back. Along the way he finds that they might be right but he keeps going to reach his goal.

This is a great book to show the importance of perseverance. Although everyone told Nib that he would not make it and that he would have to turn around he kept going. He was met with many struggles and he persevered and kept working towards his goal. It shows that working towards a goal, and working hard, will be rewarded when you finally achieve it. I think children would enjoy this book because it puts it into a different perspective but is still easy to understand how it relates.

The illustrations are also very intersting in this book. They give the book a different feel and i think they really compliment the story.

My Very Big Little World by Peter H. Reynolds

This book is about a young girl named Sugarloaf who tells about the many different things she sees in her world. What is interesting about this book is the way it really looks at the world through a child's point of view. She discusses "her neighborhood" which consists of all of her stuffed animals and she talks about "going to work" when her parents do. It is very relatable for young children.

I could definitely see myself using this book in my future classroom because aside from being from a child's perspective it is also a good way to show comparisons. Throughout the entire book Sugarloaf is comparing things in her world; her family members, objects she sees around her, things in nature. If a teacher were doing a class on comparisons I definitely think this would be a great book for demonstration, especially for younger children. Overall, I thought this was a great book!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Blog

This is my first blog!