Tag Archives: Eve Bunting

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

top 10

With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

10 For 10 – 2015 Favorite New Picture Books for Reading Power

I am excited to be participating in my 3rd  Picture Book 10 for 10 event!  This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Choosing only 10 picture books is a huge challenge for me as there are SO many amazing new ones to chose from.  Keeping with my tradition,  I will focus on new picture books that can be used for Reading Power 2 books for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.  (You can check out my 10 for 10 2013 post here and my 2014 post here.)

Below are my favorite 10 picture books from 2015 that could be added to your reading power collections.

CONNECT

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  My Family Tree and Me -Dusan Petricic

A celebration of both sides of a family through 4 generations, this book is a beautiful and simple introduction to the concept of ancestry and family trees.  A boy tells the family story of his father’s side starting from the front of the book, and his mother’s side starting from the back of the book. The illustrations are wonderful and I love the diversity shown in this inter-racial family (European father and Asian mother).  This would be an excellent book for children to make connections to their own family history.

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See You Next Year – Andrew Larsen

This beautifully written book is an invites readers to connect to the comfort and familiarity of summer holidays and traditions.  I felt very nostalgic reading this and thinking of returning to familiar places each summer.  Timeless, dreamy, lovely.  Gorgeous illustrations.                                      

QUESTION

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Sonia’s Chickens by Pheoebe Wahl

Sonya takes her job looking after 3 baby chicks on a farm very seriously.  But when a fox kills one of them to feed her own babies, Sonya is devastated.  This book invites many questions – from life on a farm and raising chickens to interconnectedness of nature, the food chain and the circle of life. Gorgeous, rich Van-Gogh like illustrations add to this beautiful story.

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In a Village By the Sea  by Muon Van

This engaging circular story is set in a small Vietnamese fishing village includes themes of family, community, diversity, rural life and nature.   The illustrations are spectacular and I love the way the story is full of surprises, leaving the reader wondering and guessing what is happening.

VISUALIZE

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Beach House – Deanna Caswell

Visualize the joys of the beach and the essence of summer: building sand castles, jumping the waves, and watching the stars come out. Gorgeous illustrations – but don’t show them until AFTER your students listen to the words and visualize!

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The Moon is Going to Addy’s House – Ida Pearle

What a beautiful book! Incredible imagery, with so much attention to detail. Magical story of a young girl driving home as the moon appears to follow her home.  The collage illustrations are exquisite and the words dance across the page.  LOVE this book!

INFER

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Look! – Jeff Mack

I love using books with very little text to help younger students learn to infer.  It was a toss up this year between this book and Uh-Oh! by Shutta Crum but the adorable gorilla in this book won me over!  This is the story of a  little boy glued to the TV and a determined gorilla who is trying to get his attention.  Using only two words, (Look! and Out!) Jeff Mack tells an adorable tale of friendship.  Perfect for inferring with younger students.

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The Queen’s Shadow – A Story About How Animals See – Cybele Young

This book weaves a crime story with information in a unique, clever way.  The Queen invites her animal friends for a banquet.  During dinner, a crime occurs – the queen’s shadow is stolen.  The royal detective interviews each character and then a small insert explains the real, scientific fact about the animal’s eyesight that inspired its character’s role in the story.  Readers need to use the clues to infer who may have committed the crime.  Brilliant!

TRANSFORM

Some Things I’ve Lost – Cybele Young

The brilliant Cybele Young has managed to make my list twice this year.  In this amazing book, she literally transforms everyday household objects that have been misplaced into magical, mysterious underwater creatures.  Clever, imaginative and slightly haunting.  And the next time you lose your reading glasses or your keys….

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Last Stop on Market Street –  Matt De La Pena

This book will transform your thinking about compassion, diversity, poverty, gratitude, small moments, paying attention, gratitude, inter-generational relationships, family…. it is a true treasure of a book that will uplift your spirits and warm your heart.

 RUNNERS UP

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Yard Sale – Eve Bunting

This beautiful, tender story about a family downsizing and having a yard sale before they move is one of my favorites of the year.  Many will make connections to having or attending a yard sale, but the heart of this story will transform your thinking about “home”:  it’s not the stuff you have inside but the people you love there that make a home.

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Pool – JiHyeon Lee

This beautiful wordless picture book perfect for inferring,  takes us on an imaginative journey of two shy children meeting for the first time under the water of an over-crowded swimming pool.  Imaginative, surprising, delightful.

Well there you have it – my top 10 picture books for Reading Power (plus 2!) for 2015.  I hope you found some new titles that you can use in your classroom!  What are your top picks of the year so far?

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Filed under 2015 releases, New Books, Picture Book, Picture Book 10 for 10, Reading Power

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Look What’s New for Spring!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers.

It’s been a busy few weeks and I have not had a chance to do a post in a while!  I have, however, been discovering a lot of wonderful new picture books that I am excited to share this week!

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Swimming, Swimming – Gary Clement

“Swimming, swimming, in a swimming pool.  When days are hot, when days are cold, in a swimming pool”.  I love this almost wordless picture book by National Post’s political cartoonist Gary Clement as he shares his childhood memories of summer days swimming in the neighborhood pool with his friends. Delightful illustrations and a perfect book for making connections and inferring.

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I Don’t Like Koala – Sean Ferrell

What do you do when your stuffed animal creeps you out and won’t stop staring at you?  Adam does not like his cute, cuddly Koala.  No matter how many times he tries to get rid of it, Koala just keeps showing up!  A little scary, a little funny – and a great book about facing your fears.  Illustrations are hilarious – a little Tim Burton-ish!

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Look! – Jeff Mack

This clever book uses only two words but tells a great story – the perfect combination for practicing inferring!   A gorilla tries desperately to get the attention of a little boy,  who is transfixed by his TV, because he wants the boy to read to him.  Whoops!  Clumsy gorilla has broken the TV!  Now what will the little boy do?  Great messages in this one! 

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You Nest Here With Me – Jane Yolen

This book has soothing and rhythmic rhymes and the repeating phrase “You nest here with me”. A sweet introduction to different birds and different nests to young children. Gorgeous mixed media collage style of Melissa Sweet (The Right Word) add to the loveliness.  There are so many recent books about birds and nests that I think I shall do a special post just about birds soon!

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The Skunk – Mac Barnett

A skunk starts following a man around the city, resulting in a bizarre chase!  This book is a little weird, a little random but great fun to read.  The best part is that you have no idea what is going on until the end of the story!  Great for predicting and inferring!  Love Patrick McDonnell’s illustrations!

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Yard Sale – Eve Bunting

I loved this book before I even read it. Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo?  Together?  In one book?  Then I read it and I loved it around the block and back again.  I think this just might be my favorite book of the year so far.  Beautiful, tender, heart-breaking, up-lifting story about a family who is down-sizing to a smaller apartment, due to economic circumstances.   The little girl is sad to see so many of their possessions for sale, but learns that what matters most is having each other.  This is a definite Kleenex book.  Love.

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Red – Jan De Kinder

An innocent playground incident grows into a full-blown bullying incident.  This book focuses on the pain of the victim and the victim’s friend who does nothing to help.  In the end, we see and feel the courage of a girl who makes a difficult choice and stands up to put a stop to it.  Beautiful black, white and red illustrations.  This book would be a good one for classroom discussion.

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Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry – Vern Kousky

If you are looking for a book to launch your poetry unit – here it is!  This adorable book that introduces poetry to younger students includes great lines from Dickinson, Eliot, Keats, and Rossetti.  I especially like the message it portrays that sharing poetry can be a joyful experience.  “Otto now knows that poetry should be shared with more than just the moon and the stars. Poetry should be shared with everyone.”

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Enormous Smallness – A Story of E. E. Cummings – Matthew Burgess

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book so much.  I know I say that a lot but ever since I memorized “Maggie and Millie and Mollie and May” in grade 6, I have loved e.e. cummings’ poetry.  This is a gorgeous, illustrated biography of E. E. Cummings. (I loved the different type-set shown  as well!)  Interesting, engaging story of his life, woven together with some of his most wonderful poems. A quiet, sensitive introduction to his life and his poetry.  This book is simple, yet very engaging and I felt his spirit when I read it. 

So those are the treasures I discovered this week!  Would love to hear which ones caught your eye!  Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under It's Monday, making connections, New Books, Poetry

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Books For Grieving and Healing

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

A very good friend of mine is a principal in a neighbouring school district.  On Thursday, she learned that a grade 3 student in her school died under horrific and tragic circumstances.   The school, staff, parents and students are, as you can imagine, in shock and disbelief.  My friend has the enormous task of trying to support her school community while she, too, is grieving the loss of this dear little girl.  She stopped by my house on Friday and asked if I could recommend any picture books that she might be able to take to school on Monday to read to classes; books that might help them understand and deal with this sudden loss.  A beautiful reminder that in times when we may be at a loss for just the right words, we turn to children’s books to find strength and guidance.

In honor of the students, staff and parents at Rosemary Heights Elementary School in Surrey – here are some books that I hope will bring you some comfort during this difficult time:

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The Memory String – Eve Bunting

A young girl deals with the loss of her mother.  Holding on to memories of a lost loved one through buttons on a “memory string” and learning to create new ones.

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The Memory Tree – Britta Teckentrup

When Fox dies, his animal friends gather to share the memories of their friend.  A beautiful and heartfelt story about the death of a loved one and the memories that comfort those left behind.

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Always and Forever – Alan Durant

This book gives a heart-warming account of how we deal with bereavement and come to terms with the loss of somebody close to us. Beautiful illustrations and tender story of forest animals who are dealing with the loss of one of their close friend. 

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Water Bugs and Dragon Flies: Explaining Death to Young Children – Doris Stickley

In a simple, meaningful way, Doris Stickley uses an adapted fable about the waterbug that changes into a dragonfly to explain the death of a friend to neighbourhood children.  Some spiritual context is implied and while it does not focus on any particular religion, I found it particularly comforting. 

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The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic

This book  tells the story of a young boy trying to grieve, adapt, and accept the death of his mother. Told with such straight forward, simple gestures and emotion from anger to tears, this book will make your heart ache.  Powerful and emotional but a very good book to spark discussion and promote hope and healing.

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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – Judith Viorst

This book is about the loss of a pet but I like how sensitively the book touches on expressing feelings about a loss (both sadness and good memories.) It does touch on the idea of Heaven, but does so in a neutral way.

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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book  – Michael Rosen

This wonderful book, illustrated by Quentin Blake, describes Michael Rosen’s grief at the death of his son.  It vividly describes the ever-changing fluidity of grief – the sudden and unexpected moments of happiness, then anger, then resentment.  Knowing that there different ways of being sad is an important message to share with people who are affected by a death or a loss. 

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My Father’s Arms are Like a Boat – Stein Erik Lunde

Haunting, beautiful story of a child and father’s sadness over the death of the mother.  Soft illustrations and poetic, subtle word choice – this story is achingly beautiful.

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The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – Leo Buscaglia

This book makes me cry but in a good way. It is an excellent choice when teaching children about the end of life for someone they love. It makes death a natural celebration of peace after a struggle to hang on to something that is no longer important. It speaks of a higher purpose in the circle of all things. 

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The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

This simple story tells of a young girl who “locks her heart away” after her grandfather dies, protecting it from feeling pain.   Wonderful, simple message about how to open up your heart after a loss and begin to love and feel again.  Beautiful message of hope and love. 

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Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley

This is a heart warming story that introduces grief, loss and the subject of death in a gentle way.  I like that the friends are so very sad when their friend dies, but by sharing happy memories of their friend together, it helps them deal with their sadness.

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I’ll Always Love You – Hans Wilhelm

This is a heart-aching story of a child dealing with the loss of the family dog.  Beautifully written and lovely illustrations.  Sad but helpful and hopeful in the end.

Thanks for stopping by.  I do recommend you read through these any of these books before sharing them with children as some of them may not be appropriate or fit your own beliefs.  I would love suggestions of books you have shared with students who may have experienced loss of a loved one.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the school community of Rosemary Heights Elementary as they deal with this loss.

 

 

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Filed under Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?