It’s Monday! And Here’s What I’m Reading: February 10th., 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts
I love teaching about America in the 1700 and 1800’s, but Lois Miner Huey’s Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History left me feeling quite happy that I did not love in those times.
Quite simply, everyone and everything stank…all the time.  Huey paints a vivid picture of that was like for you, the reader, as you time travel back to these times, using very specific details and very detailed illustrations.  Here is one particularly gruesome example:
Crawling food bugs and flies: You visit the kitchen of the tavern where you slept in last night.  The cook is pulling out items like flour and crackers.  Before she begins to cook, she kills the insects crawling around in the food.  You notice she misses some. Maybe this adds protein? Gross! You leave.
My kids will love reading every icky, yucky, eewy detail of what it was like to eat, sleep, travel and live in those times.  I could hear them sharing what they learn and totally grossing each other out.  It’s a dimension of history that’s not often told, but adds a certain edge to our Social Studies lessons about life in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention, for instance.
Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World, written and illustrated by Janet Wilson, is about ten children from around the world, “true stories of kids just like you who are standing up for their rights”.  Each profile describes what inspired these young people to get involved in issues ranging from sex trafficking to child labor and education for all children.  Included is a section about organizations for kids to research and participate in, and profiles of more well-known young people like Malala Yousafzai and Kamran Safi.  
With Random Acts of Kindness week coming up, February 10th. – 16th., this would be a wonderful book to share with our kids.
Sally Nicholls’ Ways to Live Forever  was just a lovely and yet incredibly sad story.  Sam and his best friend Felix are both in the last stages of leukemia.  Written in the form of Sam’s notebook, complete with lists of things he wants to accomplish and notes about his thoughts on life and process of dying, this is one of those hauntingly wise stories.  Nichols manages not to make this a maudlin or too-wise narrative, she strikes just the right balance between presenting the truth of chemotherapy and living with a terminal illness, and building believable character who just want to be able to run free, even race up the down escalator.  Sam’s friendship with the older, slightly more worldly Felix is beautifully created,  and the scene in which Sam visits Felix for the last time made me cry.  I also loved the way Nicholls created Sam’s family, they struggle mightily to maintain some sort of normalcy even as they accept the inevitable.  This is a very special book, soon to be a movie:
Sam’s gentle, natural philosophizing about the hand that he has been handed, contains many a wise truth, and his disease allows him a perceptiveness and insight about people, fairness, and acceptance. This is a very special book, soon to be a movie:

8 thoughts on “It’s Monday! And Here’s What I’m Reading: February 10th., 2014

  1. All three definitely look good, Tara. I know that my former students would have loved that first book! You might remember that I wrote about Poop Happens by Sarah Albee-sounds very similar-things that were ‘lived with’ we don’t understand much here, although some still don’t have great conditions around the world, or even here. Have a terrific week!

  2. Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History is totally going on my Amazon Wish List! This sounds like the right kind of book to engage students AND to make them thankful they’re living in the 21st century!

  3. I didn’t know about Random Acts of Kindness week either! I’m doing acts of kindness for my Round 2 #nerdlution and also for a “happiness habit” challenge for an interdisciplinary course on Happiness I’m co-teaching this semester. Will have to share with my class! Our Rights does look interesting–one I’d like to share in my Children’s Lit class. Off to purchase!

  4. Just pulled Ways to Live Forever off my shelf and moved it to the read soon shelf – thank you for the encouragement to read this title. I had purchased it and then forgotten about it.

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