“The Wish List” Explores Do-overs in Life (and Death)

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

I bet most of us have considered “do overs,” what we would re-do in our life if given a chance. Maybe we would change a conversation, an action (or lack thereof), or a decision. In The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, Lowrie McCall’s list consists of four things he wished he had done in his life. Furthermore, the fate of Meg Finn’s soul depends on her success in helping him complete his wish list. School Library Journal describes their journey as “both humorous and poignant, as Lowrie confronts his regrets and Meg strives to attain salvation.”

the wish list Continue reading

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might… Wishing in Michelle Harrison’s One Wish

By T. Gail Pritchard, Ph.D., University of Arizona

Think back to some of your earliest memories of wishing, perhaps when blowing out birthday candles, wishing upon a star — particularly a shooting star or the first star of the night, throwing a penny in a wishing well or fountain, getting the long end of the wishbone, blowing on a dandelion puff, or maybe writing a wish on a piece of paper and tying it to a tree or hiding it under a rock. Continue reading

Diversity within Children’s and Young Adolescent Latino Literature: Afro-Latinos and Afro-Caribbean Communities

by Carmen M. Martinez-Roldan and Katherine Lorena del Carmen Keim-Riveros

port-au-prince-91757_640

Port-au-Prince

In our last blog of the month we focus on how the authors’ incorporation of non-English words in Afro-Latino and Afro-Caribbean literature can contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of the richness and complexities of Latino culture and the bilingualism of their communities. The books discussed through this month were all English-based texts, in which the authors purposefully incorporated the linguistic repertoire Continue reading

Diversity within Children’s and Young Adolescent Latino Literature: Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous Communities

by Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & Richelle Jurasek

PanamaCanalThis week we continue our focus on Afro-Caribbean influences in Latino children’s literature but also start addressing Indigenous perspectives. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, another historical fiction novel by Cuban-American author Margarita Engle, offers a window into the experiences of Caribbean islander workers but also into the experiences of indigenous communities Continue reading

Diversity within Children’s and Young Adolescent Latino Literature

By Carmen M. Martínez-Roldán & William García

Afro-Latino Adolescent LiteratureLatino children’s literature in the United States refers to literature written by Latino and Latina authors, whether in English or Spanish and regardless of the topics they address (Ada, 2003). Giving the great intragroup differences in social class, immigration patterns, and language practices among Latinos, we would expect Latino literature to reflect such diversity but there is still a long way to go to meet that goal. Continue reading

Responsible Citizens, Workers and Activists: Uncovering Informational Text Trios

By Charlene Klassen Endrizzi with Karen Matis

text trios
Open minds Operate best.
Critical thinking Over tests.
Wisdom can’t be memorized.
Educate! Agitate! Organize!

Nagara, 2013

Innosanto Nagara’s ambitious declaration parallels Eel’s change of heart which initiated Karen’s and my month-long investigation into Responsible Citizens and Workers. A is for Activist embodies an edginess designed to encourage teachers and students to contemplate action. Our classrooms need to include more moments of agitation where teachers and students are nudged to evaluate their current lives and ponder civic responsibility. Continue reading

Responsible Citizens: Considering the Power of Words

By Karen Matis with Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

the power of words
“I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race.”
from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, 2012

Death, an unconventional narrator, contemplates this final thought in Marcus Zusak’s historical fiction novel The Book Thief. In the context of World War II, these words offer a blunt description of a citizen who stands up for what is right and the possible unfortunate consequences of becoming an advocate for others. This week we continue our investigation of Responsible Citizens alongside a different seventh grade class studying The Book Thief. I offered this rhetorical question to help students contemplate Zusak’s thoughts related to their lives: “With which group do you want to be associated? the overestimated, popular opinion, or the underestimated, who labor against the grain to enact positive change?” Continue reading

Responsible Citizens and Workers: Tackling Informational Texts

By Karen Matis with Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

tackling informational texts

One fascinating aspect of the seventh graders’ questions during our conversation after the author Skype was their curiosity regarding specific vocabulary (such as “cesspool” or “costermonger”) used by Hopkinson. I think Dr. Matis’ Word Wall was a great tool for students, allowing them to discuss and learn new words.

Ben Gaul, history preservice teacher

This week we continue our exploration of what it means to be responsible citizens using The Great Trouble, Stolen Dreams, and companion web resources. My two seventh grade classes started our exploration of The Great Trouble with a Word Wall. Like Ben noted, I also see students’ engagement with texts increase if we collectively analyze unfamiliar words. The first word selected to place on our wall was “mudlark,” a term introduced and defined on page one. Readers eagerly contributed to the wall when they came across new vocabulary. To help students connect to words of low practical use but an integral part of understanding The Great Trouble, we acted out new terms or mimicked facial expressions to physically demonstrate a word’s meaning. Continue reading