Monday, October 25, 2010

My favorite PTA job... the Beehive Book Awards Committee. Each year the Children's Literature Association of Utah nominates books in five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Informational, Picture Book and Young Adults, then kids get to vote for the winners throughout the year. At our elementary school, volunteers from the committee read a book (or two) in each category and then rotate through classes to tell the kids about the books and get them excited to read. Two weeks ago I went to all the 4th grade classes (Joey), last week I did the 2nd grade (Ellie) and this week I got to go to the 6th grade (Robbie). It's a relatively minor time investment (3 hours in class, plus time to read the books, maybe another 2-3 hours) that pays big dividends. I like any excuse to read, and I like going into the different classrooms—it's amazing how much you can tell about a teacher in 15 short minutes. The sixth grade was really fun, I recognized most of the kids and they are good kids.

Here are the books I presented:

This already won a Newberry, so I expected it to be great and was not disappointed. It's the story of a young girl in China who lives in a poor village and spends all day working in the rice fields with her parents. Her mom is malcontent because they are so poor, but her dad tells her stories about dragons and tigers and the man on the moon. Minli believes his folktales and decides to leave home to search for the man on the moon, so he can change their fortune and her mom will be happy. Her quest is full of adventure and learning, and her parents learn a lot while she's gone too. The writing style is simple and engaging. I loved it.

This poetry book reminded me a little of Pablo Neruda's Odes to Common Things, in premise if not style. She writes about articles of clothing. Socks, pants, even underwear. I read the poems Bob's Bicycle Helmet and Clyde's Costume. Some of the classes asked to hear Emily's Undies and I complied. They are fun cute poems.

This informational book is a true story about the Maasi tribe in Africa. The author is a member of the tribe who received a scholarship at Stanford and studied there to become a doctor. He returned to visit his tribe and a child asked him if he had brought any stories. He told them the tragic story of 9/11, and they responded with sorrow and a desire to do something. They give a gift of 14 cows, because to the Maasi "the cow is life." The artwork in this book is amazing, the writing is beautiful and the story is moving. I love the last line: "Because there is no country so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort."

I saved the picture book for last each time I presented the books, and it was by far the favorite, even in the sixth grade. It's a fun book to read aloud although it's short and comical, it has a great message about perspective. I picked this book because I had seen some of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's other projects on youtube and loved them. Here's the first one I saw, check it out. Very creative.

Hopefully I didn't embarrass Robbie too much when I asked his class to pose for the daily photo. I told them all to say "Poor Robbie has a photo-crazy mom" instead of cheese.

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