Category Archives: Great Books

An Inappropriate Book?

Bubba and I read a book the other day called Ron’s Big Mission (by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden), and I liked it well enough that I wanted to share it with all of you.

It’s about a nine-year-old boy in the 1950s who wanted to check out a book at the library, but wasn’t allowed to because of his skin color.  The boy’s mother and the police were called, but the boy refused to back down.  People told the boy to just let a white person check out the book for him, but he persisted. In the end, he walked out of the library with the book he wanted checked out in his name.

It was the last page that really got me, though.  On that page, it tells how the story is a fictionalized account of a real incident from Ron McNair’s life (for those who might not know, Ron McNair was one of the astronauts who perished in the 1986 Challenger explosion).

Needless to say, this is one of those stories I definitely want Bubba to hear again when he gets older… the courage McNair must have had to face this injustice head-on is absolutely inspiring!

I even thought about using it in my classroom, but then I read some of the reviews on Amazon.  More than 25% of the people who rated the book said it was one-star because they felt it was “inappropriate” for children! One even said:

“my child never saw people as a “color” before this book. people were just people until this book was read to him. i have now spent 3 weeks trying to undo what this book has done.” 

Seriously?!  Are parents really going that far to shelter their children from the realities of the past?  Should I be worried about what the parents will say/do if I read it to my first graders at school this year?  What do you think?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

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Filed under Classroom Connections, Great Books, Reading the Library, Special Stuff

Five Stars

Apparently I have really high expectations when it comes to rating books on Goodreads.  Most of the time, I’ll rate books as three (out of five) stars, and if I really like a book, I’ll rate it as four stars.  Out of all the books Bubba and I have read so far, I’ve only rated one of them as five of five stars.  It’s called “One” by Katheryn Otoshi.

One

Here’s how Amazon describes it:

“Blue is a quiet color. Red’s a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count. As budding young readers learn about numbers, counting, and primary and secondary colors, they also learn about accepting each other’s differences and how it sometimes just takes one voice to make everyone count.” 

Obviously I’m not the only person who likes this book…  When I checked Amazon to get the description above, it had 81 ratings… and EVERY SINGLE PERSON gave it 5 of 5 stars!

I love this book because it has all the right things you would want a child Bubba’s age to learn (like colors and numbers), and the lesson of the story is one that can be (and should be) repeated over and over in childhood.

This is the first book on our journey that I feel is good enough to buy a copy to keep at our house, and I think you would agree if you read it, too!  Check it out and tell me what you think of it!

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Another Mini Book Tour

It’s so nice to be back home and reading to Bubba again!  We’ve already finished our bag of books that we picked up from the library before I left town, so we’re patiently waiting for 10:00am Monday morning (when our library opens) to head back to the library and pick up another bag of books.

On a different note, I found out that many of the books from the Illinois Reads program are not currently at our library, so I figured that while we wait for them to be delivered, we could start another “Mini Book Tour.”  Luckily, there’s no shortage of “mini tours” that we could take, so we’ll call the next one the “Monarch Award Mini Tour.”

Every year, the Illinois School Library Media Association administers the Monarch Award. It’s a K-3 Readers’ Choice Award in Illinois that’s presented annually to the author and/or illustrator of the book that’s voted by students in Kindergarten through Grade Three as their favorite from that year’s reading list. Click here to see this year’s reading list.

It looks like this will be a great mini tour to take, so I hope you’ll join us!  If you have any suggestions for other mini tours in the future, please leave your idea as a comment – we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Mini Book Tour

The Illinois Reading Council started a statewide project this spring to promote reading for all Illinoisans called Illinois Reads. What they’ve done is they’ve chosen books on a variety of topics for six different age bands (from “birth to 4” to “Adult”).  Many of the stories were written by Illinois authors and include Spanish-language titles and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related books.

This kind of got me thinking about how I used to spend my time before meeting my wife… Right after I got out of the Army, my best friend and I used to go to Old Chicago a couple nights a week and work on their “World Beer Tour” and some of the seasonal mini-tours they had throughout the year.  Granted, Illinois Reads has nothing to do with Old Chicago’s beer tours, but the idea behind them seem similar – They both encourage you to take a break from your normal routine and try something unique.

There are only 6 books in each age band, so Bubba and I are going to venture off the path of selecting books from the library in alphabetical order (according to authors’ names) and read all the books from the “Birth to 4” and “K-2” age bands.

Feel free to join us on this little Illinois Reads “Book Tour” and let us know what you think of the books that were selected for the Illinois Reads program!  We’d love to hear from you!

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Bubba’s Decision

Bubba and I are almost a week into our journey, and we have already read more than 50 books together… Well, that’s not exactly accurate.  I guess I should take a step back and say that Bubba has decided that reading only library books is NOT an option. He made this decision pretty clear earlier in the week – after we had only read about 5 books!

I think he was beginning to have some withdrawal symptoms from not hearing is favorite stories!  It was like he was on his own little mission – a mission to listen to a book that HE picked out!  In this case, it was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I tried to read him a new library book, but he would push the book away and shove HIS book into my chest to get me to read it to him.  After trying a couple times to get him interested in the library book, I finally gave up and read Bubba his book.

Of course, this opened the floodgate and we are now reading his favorite books along with our library books each day!  I think I’ve counted 8 readings of both The Very Hungry Caterpillar and My Precious Little Bear, 5 readings of The Snowy Day, 7 readings of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, 3 or 4 readings of Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, and 5 readings of Melissa Everett’s Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.

A stack of some of Bubba's favorite books

A stack of some of Bubba’s favorite books

Luckily, I’ve been on break and I’ve been able to read to him as much as he wants.  Next week I go back to work, so we’ll have to wait and see how many library (and “Bubba Favorite”) books we can get through when teaching takes up the majority of my day!

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Filed under Great Books, Lots of Laughs, Reading the Library, Updates