Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cures For The Common Core Blues: BOOKS, Vol. 3

What a book I have for you today! My Name is María Isabel has been on my short list of fantastic children's books for several years.

Publishers Weekly describes Alma Flor Ada's beautifully written chapter book this way: "Armed with her new blue book­bag, María Isabel bravely faces her first day at a new school. But when she meets her new teacher, she is told there are already two other Marías in the class. 'Why don’t we call you Mary instead?' her teacher sug­gests, unaware that María was named for both her grand­moth­ers, a grand­fa­ther and her father. María's inabil­ity to respond to 'Mary' leads to more prob­lems. Sim­ply told, this story com­bines the strug­gle of a Puerto Rican family’s efforts to improve their life with a shared sense of pride in their her­itage. The author’s care­fully drawn char­ac­ter­i­za­tions avoid stereo­types, thus increas­ing their appeal and believ­abil­ity. An essay involv­ing a wish list gives María a chance to reclaim her name, and allows her teacher to make amends."

Reading is Fundamental has several excellent activities for the book that you can adapt and make your own:
You and your kiddos can read Alma Flor Ada's biography and watch a video interview with her over at Colorín Colorado, a fabulous site worthy of its own post, and soon!

When I read My Name is María Isabel with a group of 4th graders several years ago, I asked them to write an essay about their "Greatest Wish" as María did; one of them brought me to tears. My sweet student wrote about how much she wanted to see her sister who lives in Mexico with their grandmother, and whom she hasn't seen since she was two years old. What a heartfelt, and mature, wish from a precious little girl! 
(Note: one of the activities suggested by Reading is Fundamental is writing just such an essay.)

Enjoy this wonderful book, available at Amazon, with your kiddos! Teach them the important vocabulary -  attentively, Hanukkah, manger, menorah, misunderstanding, pageant, strumming, Three Kings' Day, troublesome. Discuss the realistic fiction genre. Have them write, look for evidence and cite it, learn about measurement using the recipe, and much more.

And as always, let it help cure your Common Core blues!

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