Slice of Life Challenge/It’s Monday and Here’s What I’m Reading!: Library finds

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Jen and Kellee At Teach Mentor Texts

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Alice at Supratentorial

The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers

So here goes my Monday offering – doing triple duty for all the blogging duties above.  One of my most important jobs as a teacher is finding great books for my kids to read.  I love my Saturday afternoon trip to our local library in search of new offerings, especially because we are fortunate to have an amazing library with a kids’ section full of the latest and best books.  Our library is a warm and inviting place, and I am happy to say that I am a library aficionado
As I wander through the stacks, I listen in on conversations – kids sharing titles they love, parents inspecting that hoped for book which will ignite a love of reading, librarians chatting here there and every where about what they’ve read, bought and are hoping to buy.  Today I came upon a father and son choosing books about the planets for a school project – it was such a joy to hear their serious conversation: which planets? why these? how to choose which books?  I could tell that this boy was a reader, his father was a reader, and that reading was already like breathing to him. He, too, was a library aficionado!    
Sometimes, I confess, I pick up a book just because of it’s cover and title….just like some of my sixth graders do. Most times, I am disappointed – for all the reasons I tell them that they might well be disappointed for choosing a book on such a superficial level…sometimes, though, I find a real treasure this way.  And this is exactly what happened with “The Forgiveness Garden” by Lauren Thompson: 

Perhaps it was the flap cover copy that clued me in to the fact that this was going to be a memorable book:

“A long time ago and far away – although it could be here and it could be now – a boy threw a stone and injured a girl.  For as long as anyone could remember, their families had been enemies, and their towns as well, so it was no surprise that something bad had happened.
Hate had happened. revenge had happened. And that inspired more hate and more calls for revenge.  But this time, a young girl decided to do something different…”  

Thompson’s story was inspired by the Garden of Forgiveness project in Beirut, Lebanon – so ravaged by civil war.  Her story is truly a parable for our time, when conflict is every where, and hate and revenge wreak havoc in cities and countries across the world.  Christy Hale’s beautiful collage and paint pictures  do justice to this story, they make one pause and consider the actions and reactions, to connect the story with larger

Here is the founder of the Garden of Forgiveness project, speaking of what led her to create this idea, this space dedicated to forgiveness and peace:

Finding this book was such good luck – especially since I am reading “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” to my sixth graders now, and was looking for a book like this to share with them when we come to discussing themes and connecting historical fiction to the lessons we can learn from history.   Thompson’s book will now be a wonderful part of that discussion   

I also read “Anything But Typical” by Nora Raleigh Baskin:

This is the story of Jason Blake, twelve years old, funny, smart, an awesome sixth grader…and autistic.  Jason has to navigate the world of the “neurotypical” – he does not understand it, but he has learned what to look for, how to act, how to figure it out.  So much of what he must deal with every day is confusing, but deal with it all he must.  Jason, however, feels most like himself when he can write – online.  And that is where he meets PhoenixBird – his first true friend.  Their on-line writing leads to an invitation to a writing convention – where Jason meets Rebecca.  Things don’t do as Jason had planned – but Jason learns that, sometimes, that is just as well. I don’t want to say much more than that, since the power of the story lies in this part of the book, and it deserves to be discovered by the reader.
Baskin writes about Jason with affection and accuracy.  Like Kathryn Erskine’s “Mockingbird”“Anything But Typical” is a beautifully written depiction of what it must be like to be a kid on the autism spectrum.  And, like “Mockingbird”, I know this is a book that my students will love.  It  will inspire meaningful conversations in our classroom, where we have two friends also on the autism spectrum.  
Here is a book trailer to enjoy:

15 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge/It’s Monday and Here’s What I’m Reading!: Library finds

  1. Looks like some great choices! Thanks for sharing your reading (and writing) life with us. I'm sure there will be a few weeks where I double down on my blogging responsibilities this month.

  2. This sounds like a great book. I will certainly add it to my collection. Have you ever read A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children by David Adler. The art work is such an integral part of the story. I used visual thinking strategies and projected the art work for discussion.

  3. I loved your intro, Tara, & thanks for telling us about your "find", The Forgiveness Garden. It sounds marvelous, a good addition along with Each Kindness, I think. Anything But Typical also sounds good. I think I've heard of it, but it's now on my list!

  4. "One of my most important jobs as a teacher is finding great books for my kids to read." If only that were the mantra of all teachers. Too often I see teachers who don't believe that. Isn't that sad? What great find you have discovered! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow, Tara! The Forgiveness Garden looks like a fantastic find. I've been trying to build a weekly library visit into my routine–I'm not there yet, but you inspire me to keep at it. I love how you were able to hit a "triple" with this slice!

  6. This would be such a great book to read at school. Forgiveness is such a powerful theme and we can all never really be reminded enough to forgive and forget. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Glad you took a chance with the Forgiveness Garden and found a gem to share with us. I loved Mockingbird so I'm sure I'll also like Anything But Typical. Great choices! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Tara, I love your use of the word aficionado. I'll have to introduce this word to my students. (Last week it was persnickety!) I must share a recent find with you that "someone" on the blogosphere or the web recommended. It was The Secret of the Village Fool, the story of a Polish neighbor who hides a Jewish family during WWII. At the end of the book are actual photos of a reunion of the families because it's based on a true story. And now I'm off to request The Forgiveness Garden. Thanks for sharing your reading life.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing The Forgiveness Garden. I am going to pick this up….thinking it will be a beautiful addition to my social justice resources.

  10. Hi there Tara, good to know about The Forgiveness Garden – I think it's important that children do get to read books such as this one – words that promote healing and closure and kindness. You're right, we do need more of that these days. I know what you mean about being a library 'aficionado' – our regular schedule is on a Sunday, and boy oh boy, do I come out with my bags and hands full of books. I liked hearing about that random conversation between the father and his son – you do know a kindred when you see one. Iphigene has done a review of Anything But Typical and she enjoyed it a great deal too. Thanks for sharing all this, Tara. Will hunt for the forgiveness garden and pin it so I won't forget.

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