In a third grade classroom at John Muir Elementary this morning, I read Toni Morrison’s The Big Box with the students. The story is about three children who are put into a “big box” after the adults in their lives conclude that they can’t “handle their freedom.” The box is full of toys and their … Freedom and Following the Rules
I had an interesting conversation about Plato’s Ring of Gyges story with the fourth grade class I’ve been teaching at John Muir Elementary School. As is my usual practice, I read the students the story and we began talking about what they would do if they had a ring that allowed them to become invisible, and whether … Fourth Grade Students on Plato
Allen Say’s picture book The Favorite Daughter is dedicated to his daughter. It’s the story of Yuriko, who is half Japanese. She is upset when other children make fun of her name and tease her about a photo of her wearing a kimono because she has blond hair. Her art teacher mispronounces her name, calling … The Favorite Daughter
A Pair of Red Clogs is Masako Matsuno’s first book for children, written in 1960. A grandmother, looking for a box to send a new pair of clogs to her granddaughter, finds an old pair of cracked red wooden clogs in her storeroom. The grandmother remembers how excited she was when, as a child the … A Pair of Red Clogs
Olivier Tallec’s 2012 wordless picture book, Waterloo & Trafalgar, portrays two men, one in blue and one in orange, who are separated by walls and watch each other suspiciously behind their telescopes throughout the seasons, embroiled in conflict. Not until they have a common cause do they stop fighting. At the end of the book, … Waterloo & Trafalgar
Otter and Odder, by James Howe, was introduced to me recently by one of my undergraduate students. The story is about Otter who, looking for food, falls in love with the fish he is about to eat. Told by his community that this is not “the way of the otter,” and characterized as “odd and … Otter and Odder
Cynthia Rylant’s story An Angel for Solomon Singer is the story of Solomon Singer, who lives in a hotel for men in New York City, and doesn’t like it. His room has no balcony or fireplace, and he cannot have a cat or dog, or even paint his walls a color of his choosing. “It … An Angel for Solomon Singer
In a fourth grade class at Whittier Elementary School yesterday, we read chapter 3 of Standing Up to Mr. O by Claudia Mills, and the children asked the question, “Does everything have a right to live?” Most of the children responded initially that they thought that everything did have a right to life. Here is an excerpt … Does everything have a right to live?
Claudia Mills’ latest book Fractions = Trouble! is about Wilson, who is having trouble with math in his third grade classroom, and so his parents hire a math tutor to help him. Embarrassed by this, Wilson is determined to keep it a secret from everyone at school. Wilson’s interactions with his tutor, his brother Kipper, his … Fractions = Trouble!
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a picture book that parents seem either to love or to hate. It is the story of a fish, described as “the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean,” with rainbow-colored, iridescent scales. The other fish call him “Rainbow Fish,” and invite him to play with them, but … The Rainbow Fish