Book-of-the-Month 2018-2019

This year, we reinstated our Book-of-the-Month practice.  Throughout the school year, every class will be reading a common book, so that we can have conversations across classes and grades.  The theme of our books for the 2018-2019 school year, will be aligned with one of our schoolwide goals—creating inclusive and equitable learning environments for all children.  Our message is simple: EVERYONE is welcome.

September 2018–Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall–Our first book is Red: A Crayon’s Story.  Some of you are already familiar with the tale of Red, the crayon who, notwithstanding his name, is clearly blue. Though he tries to draw cherries and hearts and the other crayons cheer him on in well-meaning ways, everything he draws comes out blue. Infused with emotional smarts and empathy, this story celebrates diversity and difference in all its forms. Central Themes Include: Being true to yourself; appreciating differences; the value of friendship

October 2018–We’re All Wonders by A.J. Palacio–This month’s book introduces young readers to Auggie, a boy whose face doesn’t look ordinary, but he likes to do the same things that the other kids do. Just as in Palacio’s Award Winning Book Wonder (and the movie of the same name), the other kids don’t see past Auggie’s facial difference. They don’t invite him to play, and they point at him and call him names. This is when he is feeling especially lonely. But with the help of those who love him, Auggie realizes that he is a “Wonder” regardless of the physical differences among friends.  Central Themes Include: Physical Differences, Bullying, and Friendship

November 2018–I am Human by Susan Verde–Ms. Verde is the author of other books such as I Am Yoga, I Am Peace and The Museum. I Am Human is the story of what it means to be a human being as both an individual and within our worldwide human community.  This book recognizes that as humans we make mistakes, but that also means we have the ability to choose how we respond to our mistakes.  The focus of this book is having empathy for others and ourselves.  We can do this by learning from our mistakes and making a change.  For example, we can be kind to one another, even when it is difficult.  We can choose love and compassion and celebrate the “human-ness” in all of us.   Central Themes Include: Empathy, Self-Awareness, Self-Reliance and Being Unique

December 2018–A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary–Our selection this month is a story that showcases the beautiful variety in family compositions. A Family is a Family is a Family recognizes  that   although  families can  be  configured in many different ways, all families are composed of love. What a beautiful message, indeed.  Central Themes Include: include: Families are Different, Appreciating Diversity, Pride in One’s Heritage/Background

January 2019–Rescue and Jessica by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes–Based on a true story, Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a guide dog—it’s the family business, after all. But when he gets news that he’s better suited to being an assistance dog, he’s worried that he’s not up the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time.  Central Themes Include: Special Needs, Disabilities, Understanding, Inclusion, Acceptance, Collaboration, Determination, Friendship, Courage

February 2019–Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt De La Peña–This story is set in an immigrant community where workers labor in fields and Carmela’s dad’s not living at home with the family because he needs “his papers fixed.” Though her family’s circumstances are hardscrabble, Carmela enjoys her daily pleasures: the jingle of her birthday bracelets, and the opportunity to go with her brother to the laundromat. This sweet and spunky young girl is immensely likable, and readers will root for her wishes to come true. Told through the lens of a heartfelt sibling story, the picture book explores what hope looks like in a migrant community steeped in Mexican culture.  Central Themes Include: Immigration, Cultural Diversity, Diverse Families, Understanding, Acceptance, and Determination

March 2019–The Sneetches & Other Stories by Dr. Seuss–“The Sneetches” takes place on the beaches, where Star-Belly creatures have bellies with Stars and look down on the creatures with “none upon thars.” When a man with a Star-On and Star-Off machine comes to town, questions are raised about what our differences mean, how power is created and sustained, and whether proving our sameness or gaining respect for our differences should be our ultimate goal.  This book can be viewed as a read-aloud cartoon on YouTube. Search “Dr. Seuss The Sneetches ~ Full Version” or use this link (https://youtu.be/VohyMXB4FLo). The video is about 12 minutes long, and very entertaining to view.  Central Themes Include: Tolerance, Belonging, Cause & Effect, Conformity, Equality, Prejudice, Discrimination

April 2019–Noah Chases the Wind by Michelle Worthington–In the book, Noah sees, hears and thinks in ways that are different.  He asks a lot of questions that many people never consider.  By reading Noah Chases the Wind, we can celebrate the inquisitive nature of children, as well as the unique characteristics of children on the autism spectrum. Children who see the world in their own ways may recognize themselves in Noah and learn to feel good about how they are different.  Central Themes Include: Neurodiversity, Special Needs, Acceptance, Self-Confidence, Diversity, Curiosity, Empathy

May 2019–Dreamers by Yuyi Morales–This book teaches us about bias and prejudices, promotes respect for diversity, and encourages social action. This book explores what people who are immigrants bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about a family who immigrates to a new country, and is surrounded by a new language and culture.  This story reminds us that we are all dreamers, who bring our own gifts wherever we roam. The lyrical text is complemented by detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. The book also includes a brief autobiographical essay about the author’s own experiences.  Central Themes Include: Immigration, Dreams, Identity, Family, Love of Books

June 2019–Angus All Aglow by Heather SmithAngus All Aglow is a heartwarming story that emphasizes the individuality and creativity that each child brings to the world and the challenges children face as they try to communicate their uniqueness to others. Through the use of rich, descriptive language and relatable characters, Smith focuses on the timely themes of friendship, acceptance, kindness, and individuality. Angus loves all things that sparkle, and when his grandmother gives him her necklace, he cannot wait to wear it to school. However, the next day, Angus’s classmates are not accepting of his necklace. Only one classmate steps forward to help Angus, and through this character, Smith showcases the empathy and kindness that children can show for one another.  Central Themes Include: Individuality, Friendship, Acceptance, Kindness



Catherine Koatz

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