Just Us Women
Jeanette Caines, Harbor
. Aunt Martha and her niece are taking a trip to North Carolina in Aunt Martha's brand new car—and they are doing it unaccompanied by any of the men in the family. This rhythmic short story reinforces that women can be self-reliant comrades dependent solely upon themselves.
A Reading Rainbow
favorite, it can be incorporated with a geography unit concerning the northern and southern regions of the United States.
Daddy Is A Monster Sometimes
John Steptoe, Harper Trophy.*
Bweela and Javaka are two energetic youngsters who believe their Daddy is a monster, particularly when they're just making a
of noise while he's on the phone, or when they choose to fiddle with their food
just a little
instead of eating dinner. This empowering tale helps students recognize that parents are not the only ones who can be
John Steptoe, Clarion Books
. Charles questions why the new boy in class, Hector, speaks fluent Spanish even though Hector has a chocolate-brown complexion just like Charles. This book, convincingly illustrated by E. B. Lewis, was the last of Steptoe's works prior to his death in 1989: it emphasizes the ancestral commonality found among blacks and those of Hispanic ancestry—particularly people of Puerto Rican descent.
reaffirms that if people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds take time to learn about one another, we will discover that truly we have common bonds.
She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl
, Eloise Greenfield, J. P. Lippincott. Kevin really wanted a baby brother, but when his mother comes home from the hospital, she brings a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. How can he play football with a little sister, and why is everyone paying so much attention to that wrinkled, dried up old baby!? Kevin is by no means pleased with the new arrival, but nurturing parents help their son recognize that he too is an important part of the family.
The Stories Julian Tells
Ann Cameron, Bullseye Books/Alfred A. Knopf.*
You will find yourself reading this short story collection to your students over and over again. Julian, a mischievous youngster who often weaves a tale to get out of any trying situtation, and his naive little brother Huey are characters with whom all children readily identify. Ms. Cameron, a Euro-American author, capably steps into the shoes of her characters, bringing their escapades and solutions hilariously to life. "The Pudding Like a Night on the Sea" (great for encouraging children to follow directions) and "My Very Strange Tooth" (a perfect read for students shedding their front teeth) keep boys and girls clamoring for more! Note that although this work may not be considered a true picture book, each story contained therein is accompanied by convincing illustrations, and the text itself is so wonderfully descriptive, children
the words come to life.
Eat Up Gemma
Sarah Hayes, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books
. Gemma is a finicky eater. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa . . . no one seems to be able to get her to eat her meals. Just when it seems everyone is about to give up, little brother comes to the rescue with an ingenious problem-solving strategy. This story helps young people recognize that children have valuable input to share and are often a big help to other family members.
What Kind of Baby Sitter Is This
Delores Johnson, MacMillan Publishing Company
. It's not easy being a latchkey child, and parents often remedy this situation by hiring a baby sitter. So holds true for Kenny's mother. Her son is by no means pleased with the babysitting scene, nor Miss Lovey Pritchard, the senior citizen hired to be his evening caretaker. But Ms. Pritchard is unlike any sitter he's ever had. This realistically humorous book is a highly recommended resource for students and parents: It reveals that our elders have a lot of wisdom to share, and that productive relationships often exist between seniors and children. Quite a few behavior modification strategies are contained herein that will prove invaluable.
John Steptoe, Harper & Row
. Robert is used to getting a lot of attention from Mommy: He's an only child. A friend of Robert's mother asks that she babysit her young son, Stevie. Robert's mother complies, and Robert now has a new playmate who
breaks up his toys, messes up his room, and hogs up his mother's warm embraces
. Robert's life is miserable, until the day comes when Stevie and his Mom move away. This comically sensitive story emphasizes the importance of sharing—especially love.
Eloise Greenfield, Philomel Books.*
Tamika adores her grandfather. They have an honest relationship and can talk about anything. Grandpa is also an actor. One day, while rehearsing at home, Tamika peeks through Grandpa's bedroom door and sees an unusually hateful side of her Grandfather that she has never experienced before.
Perhaps he was insincere regarding their relationship!
A heartwarming tale, this work helps children understand that love is unconditional, and to never judge a situation based on what it may appear to be on the surface.
A Letter To Amy, Ezra Jack Keats, Harper Crest. Peter is having a birthday party, and he wants to invite all of his friends—including Amy. But his cronies, all boys, have been comrades forever, and Amy joining in may break the code. Should Peter invite her? This delightfully realistic story encourages youngsters to understand the importance of friendship—regardless of gender.
Lucille Clifton, Doubleday
. Zenobia finds a penny on New Year's Day, and her birth year is imprinted on it. That's no ordinary penny: with it, she can make three wishes! Nobi tests that penny, and her first wish miraculously comes true. She shares this event with Victor, her very best friend, but he has doubts about that old belief. The two have a heated debate until she shouts, "
Man, I wish you would get out of here!
" Something happens that Zenobia doesn't seem able to undo—and she only has one wish left! Upon hearing this portion of the story, students are eager to know what happens next. This is a terrific book to read during the first week of January. Through it, childen learn the importance of having faith and cherishing friendship.
also serves as an effective prelude to an African-American Heritage Social Studies unit. Note that this book embraces a few African-American customs, i.e., many black families—particularly those with elders who hailed from the South—hold on to the belief that "a man should be the first person to enter your home on New Year's Day so you will have good luck throughout the year" or "you should always make three carefully chosen wishes whenever you find a birth-year penny because each wish will come true."
serves as a wonderful springboard for students to learn about customs embraced and handed down over the ages within their families.
Everett Anderson's Goodbye
Lucille Clifton, Henry Holt and Company
. It's not easy losing someone who's been an integral part of your life. Everett comes to grips with the loss of his father through this poetic work. This is a truly empowering resource for children who have lost a loved one or someone close and special in their lives.