October 5th is, among other things, World Teachers Day. I’ve been very lucky to have had such wonderful teachers growing up, but for their privacy I will not be naming them. This is a tribute post to some influential people in my life- and the books they introduced to me during read-aloud time.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate:
This book is told from the perspective of a silverback gorilla named Ivan, who lives in a shopping mall. One day, a baby elephant named Ruby arrives at the mall. She quickly befriends Ivan, and makes him see his life there in a new light. Soon, Ivan realizes that Ruby deserves better than to spend most of her life in a cage like he did, so he decides to do something about it.
I’ve never much been into animal books, but The One and Only Ivan definitely makes an exception. Unlike in other books, Ivan’s character seems more realistic, and since he’s a gorilla, his mannerisms are quite different from a cat or a dog, which makes the book more interesting. Also, the chapters are fairly short, so it’s a good book for a younger reader. I loved this book the first time I read it, but don’t just take my word for it- this book won a Newberry Medal! It’s also currently being produced as a movie, and should be coming out in 2020-2021. Unfortunately, Ivan’s story is true- Poor Ivan was brought from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to America, where he spent the next 27 years in a shopping mall in Tacoma, Washington. In 1995, animal rights protesters won their fight, and Ivan was taken to live at Zoo Atlanta, where he stayed until his death at age 50 in 2012.
Wonder by R.J Palacio:
By this time, I’m sure that many of you have either heard of, read, or watched the movie Wonder. But for those who haven’t, here’s a brief description:
August “Auggie” Pullman was born with a facial difference, but he’s still a normal kid. Because of his difference, up until now he’s been homeschooled. But this year, he’s going to be starting Grade 5 at Beecher Prep. He knows how the other kids will react when they see his face, but can he convince them to accept him for who he is?
This book is simply incredible. Reading it, you really start to root for Auggie, and get swept into the story. A cool thing about Wonder is that the book is told from different perspectives. Instead of only showing one side of the story, you can see the full picture, and how Auggie’s sister Via might react to something differently than his friend Jack Will. As for the movie, all I’ll say is that Wonder is one of the increasingly rare books that has a good movie adaptation.
Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine:
In Japan, a suitcase with the words “Hana Brady”, “Waisenkind”(which is German for orphan), and “May 16th, 1931”, arrived at the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Centre. Everyone who visited wanted to know more about the girl whom the suitcase had belonged to, so a woman named Fumiko Ishioka set out to find some answers.
In my Grade 4/5 class, this was easily the year’s favourite read-aloud. We all fell in love with the story of Hana Brady, and the hunt for answers about what had happened to her. We were also quite heartbroken when we discovered that she had not survived. For us, it was very upsetting to think of someone only a few years older than us dying. Although it is a terribly sad story, it’s definitely one you need to read. The author weaves both Hana and Fumiko’s stories together magnificently. And although this is only the story of one Jewish girl during the Holocaust, it gives another voice to the millions who died in Concentration camps.
This is only a sampling of the books I’ve discovered because of my teachers, Flat Stanley, The Magic Anatomy, and Matilda being others I’ve liked. And of course, I can’t forget all of the Blue Spruce books that our librarian would read to us year after year. So, to my former teachers, thank you for choosing amazing books for read-aloud time! Of the three books I listed, I probably would only have chosen one of them to read on my own time. What were some of your favourite read-aloud books? Let me know in the comments.
Before I finish, I would like to bring you up to speed on an issue that is currently affecting schools all across Ontario. CUPE , (The Canadian Union of Public Employees) has announced that unless a deal is negotiated over the weekend, they will be going on strike on Monday, October 7th. This means that all of the CYWs, EAs, ECEs, Secretaries, and Custodians, the people we sometimes take for granted, will not be doing their jobs. If the secretaries aren’t checking the attendance, if the custodians aren’t keeping our school clean so we don’t get sick, if support staff aren’t there to assist students, it’s not safe for us to go to school. While for some this may seem like a holiday, know that CUPE members have a very good reason for doing this. Their hours and wages have been cut back drastically from what they used to be. It’s not fair that the people we rely upon so heavily each and every day aren’t getting the money and the hours that they deserve. And this strike affects more than just students. The CUPE workers are not getting paid for doing this. Teachers are not allowed to call in supply teachers, so they don’t get paid either. Parents who normally work all day will have to scramble to find someone to watch their child(ren). And students aren’t getting the education that we come to school for in the first place.
However, at this point there’s as much chance of school being out as school being in, so make sure to check the news or your school board’s website for updates. But I really hope that come Monday morning, I’ll be getting ready for school instead of sleeping in.