Children’s Poetry #yalitclass

In light of this week’s reading on poetry, I wanted to do a short blog entry on one of my favorite children’s books: “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. What is one of your favorite poetry books, blog readers?

Where the Sidewalk Ends
from the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (1974)

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.

References

Silverstein, S. (1974). Where the sidewalk ends: The poems & drawings of Shel Silverstein. New York: Harper and Row.

http://faculty.weber.edu/chansen/humanweb/projects/MeghanUng/poems.htm

Teaser Thursday

“The lady nodded her head in a knowing way of mothers and grandmothers and sisters of the world over. We will take a heap of abuse ourselves, but God help the person who tries to harm one of our children. Scorn us thusly and most of us will storm the Gates of Hell and do hand-to hand combat with legions of demons”

Karen Spears Zacharias author of “Karly Sheehan: True Crime. Story behind Karly’s Law”

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

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I stayed in my comfort zone this week, well besides the required readings, for my personal book pick. Historical Fiction! My favorite! Now this book is based on true events of 1793, just the characters and their stories are made up. I like to think that perhaps the real people of this time had similar lives and the author gives a window into their lives, in a way that we love to read them! I’ll start with a short summary below, with no big spoilers of course!

Mattie is fourteen in the year of 1793, the same year the yellow fever strikes hard in the city she lives in, Philadelphia. She comes from a middle class family that consists of her Mother, Grandfather, Maid and kitchen serving girl. They own a coffeehouse, think tavern without the alcohol and are doing well for themselves. They were doing well till those around them become infected with the fever. Unlike the other well-to-do families around them whom have fled to the country side, they decided to stick it out in the city. It doesn’t take to much time before Mattie’s mother is inflicted with the terrible fever. Fearing for Mattie’s life her mother decides to send Mattie and the grandfather away to the country to stay at a farm with friends. Protesting, Mattie goes as told only to be completely derailed with a series of mishaps that gets them kicked from their wagon. Does Mattie and her grandfather catch the dreaded yellow fever? Can they somehow make their way to the farm or back to home? Find out the ending by reading “Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for historical fiction. There’s not many I have not liked. Perhaps I read them with my rose colored glasses. I enjoyed this book as well, it was a fast and simple read. The author was able to give the characters their distinct personalities without taking away from the darker emotions of the book and the sickness. It stayed true to many historical facts about the fever so I was happy that the author seemed to have done her research even with it being an fictional novel. Other factors I enjoyed was seeing how the character grew from little girl to woman in the course of a short time. I suppose dealing with something so grave as an epidemic will do it anyone!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

The first book of the week was the assigned  “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” By Sherman Alexie. To be honest with my blog readers, it would not be my first pick from the book shelf but over-all I am glad I read it. It really dug the class deeper into the topic of censorship and banned books and got me thinking about it as well. I addressed my feelings on different forms of media censorship including books here: https://heatherlikesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/censorship-yalitclass

My first personal pick of the week was “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman. I have watched the movie a lot, it’s one of my family’s favorite and I was unaware that it was originally a book first. It popped up under my goodread recommendations and had me going “No way! I have to read this!” So I did! I was most intrigued to see how close the movie followed the book.

“Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”

Coraline has a fantasy/nightmare feel to it. Coraline is a British young girl that lives in a large and very old house that is divided into condos. She shares her condo with her parents and the rest of the house with a pair of sisters and an German old man. She is a typical child, always seeking something to do, complaining often of boredom and thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. When she gets to pestering her distracted work addicted parents, they suggest she explore the house. Her curiosity is peeked when her mother gives her the key to a door in the living room. Behind the door is a brick wall, thick and cold. It leads to another condo that is awaiting sale. Coraline first loses interest in the door but later returns to it, only to find the brick wall is gone. Crawling into the door and a dark hall, Coraline is transported to the “other” side. The other side is just like her world but not quite. She even has an “other” mother and father. Only the parents has buttons for eyes and are interested in everything Coraline does. At first, Coraline loves the other world but later becomes slowly aware that the “other” world is not quite what it appears to be. “Other” mother is hell bent on keeping Coraline forever. What will Coraline do to escape the sharp claws of her “other” mother’s grasp?

The illustrations I provided on the page are actually ones from the book. While it is a chapter book, the author choose to employ an artist to provide simple black and white pictures. Simple, yet very spooky. Spooky even for an adult reader! I imagine it has even an greater affect on the child reader. The illustrations are true to the nature of the book, a fantasy world for a child that turns into an nightmare. It almost reminded me of an old folk-tale parents would tell their children to scare them and keep them in line. Yet, it still had a good message. Be careful what you wish for and appreciate what you have. Coraline’s parent’s were not perfect by any means, they reminded me of the distracted parents in “speak” but the “other” world reminded Coraline she could have had it much worse. I liked how it made the main character her own personal savoir. She had to brave and she had to save herself, no one else was going to do it for it. She was the true hero of the book. I’ll end it there before I spoil the ending, but I highly recommend it to my classmates and mature child readers.

Censorship #yalitclass

Censorship is a touchy subject. I believe that as Americans historically we have dealt with less censorship than others countries. That has put us in the frame of mind that any type of censorship is wrong. But where is the line? Who and what needs to be protected from things in the world of books and literature?

Taking a look back at banned books in history we could say they are mild compared to unbanned books today. They were considered scandalous, but they are also products of their era. Swearing, nudity, complicated social issues were just not something that was deemed acceptable to write and read about. Literature in schools even reflected that. I believe that is both as I said before, the product of the times, and the protection of the school and teachers against the wrath of the parents. I myself have a few opinions on censorship with children and in schools. I don’t see censorship as a completely bad thing. It is needed. When taking into what should be censored with children and in schools many factors should come into play. The mature understanding of the content, cognition levels are just a few. Can the student analyze the content of a controversial book with maturity and clear understanding? With my own child, I don’t shield him from things but base what I present to him on his maturity level. As he grows and his mind grows, I will be more open to exposing him to issues in books.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #Yalitclass

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I have to admit I did select this book for a few reasons. 1) I liked the way the cover looked. 2) It was on sale on Amazon Kindle. To be fair, it had great reviews so I thought why not. Generally, it’s not a book I would select as I found I like books that I can relate with. This book had a fairy tale theme to it.

It’s 1787 and Lucy lives on the fictional island of Colay. It’s no ordinary island and strange things, unexplained things, have happened. There are no more men left on the island. Mysteriously, all the male inhabitants of the island have turned into stone. The women of the island stricken with grief rope and cart the men together and drag their stone forms to the garden, where it has become an statute graveyard of sorts. To complicate matters even further, Lucy’s mother has given birth to the last baby on the island. Not only is it the last baby, but the baby is a boy. Lucy is directed to take the baby to the garden and lay at the feet of her father’s statute to await the baby’s turning into stone. Alas, something strange happens, Lucy is able to change her baby brother’s course from turning into stone by taking some of the curse onto herself. Lucy becomes determined to both save herself and the last baby boy on the island. Along the way, she meets up with another girl, an Anglish, whom is running away from danger and together they set out for the journey.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It had an really interesting theme that mixed magic, sci-fi with a bit of fairy tale. It was not so in your face that you couldn’t understand what was going on, which is what I dislike about sci-fi books. I feel like I’m putting to much attention into sorting out what is what than the actual storyline itself with sci-fi. I felt like the author could have dug deeper into the characters, I didn’t get much on what made the characters who they were, but I still enjoyed the fact that she made both Lucy and Snowcap, young strong female characters. They sought out change and tried to fix their own problems as they occured. That in itself makes it an appealing book for young female readers. Other books *Coughs* twilight* seem to put the female characters in more meeker, submissive, positions and it was refreshing to read something different.

Teenagers Want to Read- If We Let Them and Required Reading

…It should read “Teenagers Want to Read, If we give them the choice. I think like everything else in teenager’s lives, they will do it, if they believe they are given the choice. So why not give the students more reign to select the books they like, all within reason. Maybe give them a certain genre or subject and take them to the schools library to go book hunting. Not only will they be learning to use the libraries resources but they will be selecting a potential book that they could love. What a better way to spark an love of reading? Teenagers idea of literature requirements are stuffy, boring books that their parents had to read too. On the topic of required reading, I believe that these books are bemoaned by students as the boring old books. They don’t stir up the excitement of reading in school. I don’t believe that we should be cutting all classics from our classrooms, because some are quite good, but we should be introducing more variety. Just because it is the way it was, doesn’t mean it is the way it should stay. Shake it up!

I thought that “Book Love” brought up other great points that didn’t just focus on required reading in the classroom but could directly link to the effort that students took to read the required books and other books: Reading level of the student. Just because they are in the same class and grade does not mean they are at the same reading level. Some of the required readings might be fine for one student, but difficult for others. Choice allows them to select a book with a level they are comfortable reading. The “Book Love” states that “If students do not read the assigned texts, nothing important is happening in your literature classroom.” If your students are not reading the required texts because it bores them or is above grade level, there is no learning happening in the classroom. No, I’m not saying give your students free reign and just forget the tried and true class room classics but there are ways to try to accommodate both needs.

References

Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Harper Lee to publish new book, sequel to ‘Mockingbird’ #yalitclass

Fifty-five years after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee is publishing a second book, her publisher said Tuesday.

“Go Set a Watchman,” which Lee completed in the 1950s and then set aside in favor of “Mockingbird,” will be published July 14. It follows Scout, the little girl of “Mockingbird,” as an adult.

The manuscript was rediscovered last year, Lee, 88, said in a statement from her publisher, Harper.

I loved the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and pretty excited to see this article posted on CNN.com today. Bit disappointing that it will not be coming out till after this class is over. I would have liked to write a blog post on my review but I’m still planning on reading it. Will you be reading the sequel?

References

CNN. (2015, February 3). Harper Lee to publish new book, sequel to ‘Mockingbird’ – CNN.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/living/feat-harper-lee-new-book/index.html

It’s Monday! What are you reading? #yalitclass

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My Monday reading is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne. I selected this book in honor of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Bruno is just an average 9 year old german boy living in Berlin with his older sister, mother and father. One day his world is rocked when it announced that the family would be making a big move to the country side, many-many miles away from his childhood home. Bruno’s father is in the german military and they are in the midst of world war two when concentration camps are springing up to house the jewish population and others deemed “undesirable” by the Nazis. Bruno’s father would in charge of a camp with his family stationed right outside the wires. Bruno is both terrified and curious about his new world. He seeks learn more about the strange people in uniforms around him, especially a young boy close to his age. His new and only friend, the boy in the striped pajamas. Becoming more daring, Bruno hatches a plan to slip under the wire to the other side and explore the unknown world of his friend.

Bruno is typical boy of his age and the author does well portraying that. He shows the innocence of the unblemished childhood and how the clouds Bruno’s vision of what is really going on around him. While Bruno describes the environment as how it is, often gloomy and depressing, his understanding of it is completely different. Bruno is in the belief that those around them are more indentured servants or country-fold than prisoners of the concentration camp. This plays well into the readers emotions because with history we know the truth of matters. It makes you almost want to shake him and say “No! Don’t go into the camp!”. You have this desire to save the innocence of the character before it is shattered like his friend, Shmuel. The end of the book is surprising as best, but I won’t give it away for those that have yet to read it. As a youth literature book, the book’s format is short and simple to follow along while giving the reader a good dose of a history lesson. If you like history, I would highly recommend this book to you.