Wednesday, November 28, 2012


We're shifting our focus a bit in my classes from the evaluation of picture books for the Mock Caldecott 2013 Club to a word play unit using picture books and poetry.  I'm still going to choose as many 2012 picture books as I can so that I can continue to expose the kids to Caldecott contenders while exploring literary and word play terms.  We're completing word play scrapbooks and making poetry albums using what we learn during these weeks.  When I received a copy of Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim and illustrated by Bryan Collier in the mail yesterday, I fell in love with it.  I had to share it with my kids today, so I made it work with our unit.  This book must not be missed.  It is now one of my picks to win the Caldecott medal or Honor. 

Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
 We defined symbolism and looked for the symbolism in this beautiful book.  Collier draws circles that symbolize Washington's dreams throughout the story.  The Picture Book Month theme was CLOTHING today, and amazingly enough, this fit in, also, since there is a map on Booker's shirt that Collier explains in the Illustrator's Note foreshadows his journey.  I love when things just fall into place!  It was also the perfect book to help introduce a word unit since Booker T. Washington was a lover of words and books.  I made sure I showed my students my other favorite Bryan Collier books:

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
My friend, Karan Witham-Walsh, uses Dave the Potter in her high school ceramics class.

Here is an interview with Bryan Collier about Rosa:

Our other 2012 book today was Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole.  We were able to discuss symbolism again while "reading" this haunting but hopeful wordless book.  This was an interesting exercise for 4th graders.  Wordless books aren't easy, and it took time for them to understand everything that was going on, but once they did, symbols popped out at them: the Big Dipper, the lantern, the corn husk doll.  One student even said, "I'm thinking even the fact that it is worldless is symbolic."  Oh my!
Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad
I enjoyed this interview with Henry Cole.  I bet he was a fun teacher!  
I loved his book A Nest for Celeste!
When I reviewed Fifty Cents and a Dream yesterday on Goodreads, I said that I like my Kindle, but when books like these come along, I know that they can't be replaced.  They are masterpieces.


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