Charlotte’s Web was the very first read aloud novel I shared with our oldest daughter, Theadora. While I knew what was coming, I still cried right along with her when it got to that point. We still marveled at the story, breathed it in together, and thus the book became a part of the narrative that weave us together as a family. I was therefore excited to read Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet, because it turns out there is so much I did not know about the famous author who has brought the story of Wilbur and Charlotte into our lives.
This book, by far, is one the best biographies I have ever read. The depth of knowledge, the whimsical magic of the illustrations, and the sheer breadth of information is, indeed, wondrous. I kept taking pictures of quotes I wanted to write down, as well as things I wanted to use as teaching materials with my students. I had several students in mind that I want to hand this to as I was reading it as well, thinking of those who love writing, who need inspiration, or who just need an amazing book.
Biographies can be hard to read and write, I feel. They often fit a narrow audience because of the way they are written or you are not quite sure that children will stick with them. But this one sets the bar. This is the book I want to use to teach my students how to write non-fiction, this is the book I want to use when I want to teach them how to be better writers, period. I am so grateful to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book, I already ordered another for my classroom, because I think this one will just reside in my house as I try to find my own inspiration to write. What a tale! What a book! What a life!
This is absolutely appropriate for any age and could be used elementary through college.
I have been trying to beef up my nonfiction offerings for my students and anything that discusses social issues is a sure winner in my classroom. Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave is a book my students need to read. While tough to get through, after all, Shyima was only 8 when she was sold into slavery in Egypt, I think it would be an incredible discussion starter for my students as far as the privilege we have in our school and in our lives. In fact, this book would be a great book club book because I immediately wanted to discuss it with my husband. Now all I have to do is get more copies of it. Thank you Simon and Schuster for sending me this one!
I had heard about this book from just about every blogger I follow. How it was the must read of the summer (even though it wasn’t even out), how this would win awards (and it sure has). And yet, it came to my classroom and sat on the shelf. I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up for over a month. Something about the cover, perhaps, or my own frame of mind. Then one day I remembered just how much I love Jacqueline Woodson. Her book Each Kindness is a staple every year for me (which is probably why it has disappeared from my classroom). So why not read this one?
As the story often goes; I started it and then I finished it. All within two days. All within the same time frame as parent-teacher conferences. Yup, this book made me stay up and read after 13 hours days. That’s how good it is. Why is it so good? I don’t really know. Her voice, her story, the images that came to my mind as I connected the lines between her story and America’s story. But even though I loved it, I had an incredibly hard time envisioning which student I would hand it to, not sure where it belongs. But it fit right into my heart. It fit right into everything I believe is great about books.
So bottomline: Yes, add it to your classroom library. 5th grade and up or perhaps even younger. Share it with your students and hope that someone else gets it just like you got it.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.