Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Holiday

I do not have a book to discuss today. I had been so excited looking forward to this holiday. It's great to have this three-day weekend break to rest and reacharge as we prepare for the last leg of our race. I do want to ask you, though Have you found a good book about Memorial Day to read to your ELL students? I am still looking for one, I'd love to hear any suggestions!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This First Thanksgiving Day By Laura Krauss Melmed, Illustrated by Mark Buehner

"This rollicking counting story celebrates the very first Thanksgiving Day with vibrant illustrations and lively verse. Follow the Pilgrim and Wampanoag friends as they prepare for a great feast, and along the way look for the bold turkey on every page - and for the very sharp of eye, there are all sorts of surprises hidden in the art!"

The reason why this is a great book for the ELL students is because it gives them background knowledge about Thanksgiving. Not necesarily about the feast and the classical story behind the Thanksgiving celebration but, about the scenery, the things that are icons for the Thanksgiving celebrations. I live in Oregon and looking for clams is a common scene -- as long as the tide is low. Children can connect what they know, with the way things used to look like back in the time of the Pilgrims. When I turn to The 11 rejoicing in the autumn sun page, It never ceases to amaze me because hide and seek is a universal game. Over the years, there have been interesting conversations about this game, mostly primary grade children who have lived in other countries and are old enough to remember playing hide and seek with other children there. So, in a way, the story may not end about Thanksgiving, but about what they used to play in their countries of origin with their friends and relatives. That is how we begin to build background knowledge.

I would love to hear the stories you'll hear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Opposites, more opposites, and a few differences By Richard Wilbur

I found this book looking for another book at the public library. Has this ever happened to you? If you go to libraries, I'm sure it has. I don't think it's for children. I would not recommend to have it in your school or classroom library, however! A few excerpts would be fun and interesting for ELLs who have heard all the books on opposites there are in your school library, though. This book will be refreshing and fun! It is defenetly for primary grades above the intermediate level. Great book to review and build on high level thinking, analogies and humor.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

¡Sí se puede! Yes, we can! Janitor Strike in LA. By: Diana Cohn

"Every night, Carlitos sleeps while his mother goes to work as a janitor in the skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. When she comes home in the morning, she sends Carlitos off to school before she goes to bed herself. One night his mamá explains that she is not making enough money to support him and his abuelita. She and the other janitors have decided to go on strike to demand better wages. Carlitos wants to help, but he doesn't know how until...."

This is a great book on its own or a good companion from the previous one featured here: Cesar ¡Si se piede! Yes we can! By Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. It brings up important social issues obviously, but it is also a great way to talk about professions at home. I have done a Unit on occupations every year. I've found difficult, however for some of them specially the younger ones to be able to tell me what do their parents do for a living. Inspite of my encouragement to aks their parents what do they do, it just doesn't happen. I'm still puzzled about this. The point is that this year, I read this book and was a great ice breaker between children and parents.
The way this story is told, so simple yet with full details of what it means to be working under unjust circumstances not only for the employee, but for the whole family, somehow clicks the right way for the students to be quickend to ask and press their parents for answers about their jobs. I highly recommend it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Whistle for Willie By Ezra Jack Keats

"Willie longs to be able to whistle for his dogs and make many ingenious attempts". Ah, The skill of whistling! I do remember when I was trying to learn how to whistle! Do you? There are so many kinds of whistles and there are as many meanings behind every single one of them. It is a great topic to bring up with Students from other countries. I recommend this book to all ELL teachers who want to hear more about their students' cultures. I am sure you'll be amazed at the conversations this book will bring! I'd love to hear some of them too!

Friday, May 21, 2010

César ¡Sí se puede! Yes, we can! By: Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

"Bernier-Grand and Díaz have done a beautiful job of providing people with a creative approach to connect with and understand César's life, work, and ideals on a very personal level and to open the hearts and minds of the world to his legacy of social justice and quality for all poeple." (Julie C Rodríguez)

The reason why I think this is a great book for English Language Learners is not just because it is beautifully illustrated or because it is about the outstanding story of an immigrant and the American Dream. Besides all that, it is because the language though poetic, is simple and interjects Spanish expressions. I have read this book with elementary student Intermediate and Intermediate-Advanced proficiency levels with great success. They can relate to the poetry. It is simple, yet meaningful. It is easy to talk about language, but also about social issues and history. Highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salsa by Lillian Colón- Vilá

"Rita, a young girl living in New York's El Barrio, describes the Afro-Caribbean dance music, salsa, and imagines being a salsa orchestra director".

Books that talk about something so ingrained in someones culture, like "salsa" dance are genius. The Media and TV have made these type of dances and music something complicated, showy and extravagant. Salsa is so special and personal. It's part of many Hispanic cultures soul. This book is a simple, gentle and true picture of what "salsa" is in a family, a home, a community.