Sunday, March 15, 2015

SOLC # 16 - Reading - Point of View



          Also blogging with my students at Linda & Jonathan's Class Blog

          Day Sixteen, sliding downward, of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.                   Tweet at #SOL15
             

             Thanks to Tara, Dana, Anna, Betsy, Beth and Stacey for keeping us going!




Link up with Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders. and Sheila at Book Journeys.  Come visit, and tweet at #IMWAYR. Thanks to Jen, Kellee, and Ricki for hosting!

         Interesting that the books I’m choosing to share this week all are strongly about considering point of view, lessons that we all need to learn, again and again.

Things Fall Apart - by Chinua Achebe
          Written as an answer to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Achebe wanted everyone to know that the tribes and the communities of Africa, his country is Nigeria, are peoples of complex societies, caring, loving, intellectual human beings who just happen to be different from western cultures. I recently read this with a group of middle school students who at first were a little uncertain about the story. Every thing was “so” strange, yet as they read more of the story of this character Okonkwo, a man and leader in his village, they began to sympathize with him, and became moved by his story. The story also touches because it shares the parables that people live by, and my students delighted in them, loved trying to apply the same “rules” to our own culture. Here is one example, among many other sayings in the beautiful Ianguage of the book: Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten. 

          I do recommend the book to anyone who wants to read a great story, and reading it with students was a pleasure.


Black Dove, White Raven - written by Elizabeth Wein (published end of March)
              Thanks to Net Galley for the arc - Finally I finished this book, and it is not the writing’s
fault. I just have had too little reading time. I sat down to finish Saturday night, and cried a little at the end. No this is not a spoiler, but Wein’s story got me again. If you loved Code Name Verity, you will love this book, too. It begins in the US south, with single mothers, Rhoda and Delia, single mothers in the years before World War II who are stunt pilots in an airshow. Emilia and Teo, the children watching, see their lives changed in a terrible accident. A bird strike brings down the plane and Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survives. She determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin.         
              In this time in America, white women don’t usually adopt black sons, so Rhoda seeks a home that might be safer. Her partner, Delia, had always wanted to go to Ethiopia, so that is where they went, and fell in love with that beautiful country. Sadly, they are also there at the beginning of the Italo-Ethiopian war when eventually Haile Selassie had to go into exile. The author’s note is detailed, Wein writing that some say this was the beginning rumblings of World War II. It’s another thrilling, complex story of people Elizabeth Wein makes one care about. Perhaps that is why it took me a long time to read, because I savored every bit. I hope you will too.


Feathers and Fools - written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Nicholas Wilton
            It’s a picture book with a heart-breaking lesson, another point of view, and frightening. I discovered this at my school library, published in 1999, and I’m sorry I've missed it all these years. Really for older students, a flock of swans and a pride of magnificent peacocks become so fearful of each other because of their differences that they destroy each other. The parable text is brief and clear, but there is hope at the end. The illustrations are framed, full page and powerful color.  


Happy Reading Everyone!

39 comments:

  1. I have Things Fall Apart on my nightstand, got to get to it. Next week I'm doing a picture book read alouds focusing on finding ourselves in others. Feathers and Fools will be a great addition!

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    1. I was blown away by Feathers and Fools, Julieanne. Hope it will be a good addition for you.

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  2. Not familiar with Feathers and Fools, I'll have to request it. I'm finally reading Code Name Verity, but between slicing and getting my kitchen set up again, I've so little time to read.

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    1. I just got Code Name Verity back from my son-in-law, will take it into school this week.

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  3. Feathers and Fools is an old favorite. Isn't it so beautiful? Things Fall Apart may be one for the summer for me.

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    1. So many books out there waiting, right? I'm glad you like it, & was so glad to find it, Melanie.

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  4. I love your book recommendations, Linda, and look forward to Mondays to see them. I, too, love Nancie Atwell and am so glad for her and this award!

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    1. It is great to hear about Nanci Atwell winning the award. What an influence she's had on so many.

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  5. Again you have added more books to my "to read" list. I need to get back in the habit of blocking some reading time every day.

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    1. Always happy to add some books! Find that time! Thanks for looking.

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  6. Thank you for your reviews Linda. I've got Black Dove, White Raven on my to read list (I love Elizabeth Wein) Now I want to read Things Fall Apart. On Goodreads it says it is a the first in a trilogy. How is the ending? I also want to get hold of Feathers and Fools. It sounds like a perfect book for my critical literacy unit.

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    1. I have only read Things Fall Apart, really should find the others. The ending is tragic, so the others must continue in another story, perhaps? Yes, Feathers and Fools is just as I said, a lesson to be taken, but the text is terse. For reading critically, one must take it and expand with one's other experiences. Hope you enjoy the Wein when you get it.

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  7. It's a wonderful surprise to go to a library and find a great book from earlier years. I can imagine that it is not very easy to surprise you as your knowledge about literature is vast and deep.

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    1. I do know a lot, but not all, Terje. My biggest fault is that I cannot enter our library without finding some new book that looks terrific! Thanks for the compliment, though.

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  8. Things Fall Apart is one of those classic books that I somehow managed to miss in all my many years of school--and never picked up on my own. I do plan to read it this year so I was glad to read your review. I'm very eager to get the new Elizabeth Wein though I suspect I will wait til summer and more leisurely reading time to read it. I generally like to immerse myself in her books and they do take more time and reading energy.

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    1. I look forward to your thoughts about both Elisabeth. They are such thoughtful stories, and I loved that the students became more and more involved as the story deepened.

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  9. I always loved Things Fall Apart and then I heard him read from that book and WOW, I loved him even more. Nice to remember that moment, thanks Linda.
    DigitalBonnie

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    1. Lucky you, Bonnie, how wonderful to have heard him.

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  10. I always love hearing about books like Feathers and Fools. It reminds me to wander into the library a little further and to spend more time looking and searching. Thanks for that reminder!

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    1. Sometimes the books are just waiting for us, too. Thanks, Kendra.

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  11. Love the wisdom of Achebe - and thanks for the mention of Feathers and Fools, Linda - I am not familiar with that one, but I know it's one I must have.

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    1. Tara, I think you will enjoy Feathers and Fools, might fit right into the history work you're doing.

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  12. We have never heard of Feathers and Fools and we are big Mem Fox fans. How did so many of us miss that one? Thank you for telling us about it.

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    1. Isn't it great I found it? It's darker than I imagine Mem Fox's books, so maybe that's why. Enjoy it!

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  13. These look wonderful Linda. Your description of Feathers and Fools is very intriguing. Sounds like a powerful read.

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    1. Yes, it is, definitely for 4th and up I think. Hope you enjoy it, too, Gigi.

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  14. I feel stupid that I never knew that Things Fall Apart was an answer to Heart of Darkness. Wow. I tried to read it once and stopped after a few pages. I have always intended to get to it. I had to read Heart of Darkness four times in college, and I didn't like it much, but now I am intrigued to restart Things Fall Apart! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Heart of Darkness evidently was thought to be so powerful, and so attacking in the eyes of Africans. At least that's what I've found through my research. I hope you can see it in a better light now, Ricki.

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  15. I'm so glad to read your review of the new Wein book. It makes me even more excited to start it next week!
    Keep up the writing, I love seeing how you get it in!

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    1. I sneak it a line at a time I think, at least sometimes, Michele. This March thing is hard, plus reading all my students' slices. But they're doing great! Hope you enjoy Black Dove, White Raven. I love the plane flying through the O on the cover.

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  16. Yay Mem Fox! I was so excited that I was introduced to her. Her books are beautiful, and this one looks no different.

    Happy reading this week! :)

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    1. Lucky you, Kellee, wow! Have you read her writing memoir. It's so fun. Have a good week yourself, too.

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  17. All three of your books look good. I teach 3rd - 5th graders, and while I love YA books (and books for grown-up people), it is rare that I read many of them--especially while school is going on. There are just SO many books (I know- and so little time!).

    Interestingly, I had a similar experience with Feathers & Fools. I ran across it in my library when I was looking for something else. I've done it with my G/T kids, and they always respond to it very strongly. It prompts great discussion. I'm glad to find someone else who finds it as powerful a book as I do!

    Have a great week!

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    1. I feel the same way about middle grade books, still try to snatch one once in a while, but there isn't time to read all the good ones. I have to stick to YA because of my students. I'm thrilled too that you think the same way about Feathers and Fools. It blew me away. I've never seen anyone talk about it before.

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  18. Hi there dear Linda, I've been meaning to get my hands on Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. I am not sure whether I own a copy of the novel, but it should hopefully be here somewhere in my shelves. Now that you mentioned that it's a response to Heart of Darkness, I'd make sure I read Conrad's novel first. I love books that 'talk' to each other - what a gift indeed to share the experience with the students.
    I've used Feathers and Fools with my higher degree students, and they always comment on how truly powerful a story it is - and it can be shared as well with very young children without diluting the message. Very beautiful. :)

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    1. It will be interesting to see what you think of the Achebe and Conrad books. As you see above, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Achebe book with my students. I'm going to share Feathers and Fools next week. We only have tomorrow left-conferences, Thurs. & Fri. Have a good week, Myra.

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  19. Linda, thank you for sharing these titles that I have not read. I especially liked the quote: "and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten." What a delicious way to describe words and lessons. I bid you good night and a wonderful day at work. I am off to a conference on Wednesday to Friday.

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    1. Thanks Carol, the proverbs in this book are marvelous. Have a wonderful conference.

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  20. For some reason, I enjoy paired readings. I haven't read Heart of Darkness nor Things Fall Apart.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!