T.O.T.Week: this week’s pairings

It’s April, and you all know that means #poetrymonth! I love every bit of observational voice, verse inspired by reality, and one liners annotated to the bone. Here are my top four verse collections, have at them:

📖 Please read the lyrical prose of Amanda Gorman’s Change Sings picture book. You will not regret it.

📖 Pair this with The One Thing You’d Save, a question linking the many voices of one middle grade classroom.

📖 If I haven’t already shouted about For Everyone by Jason Reynolds from the rooftop, PLEASE go out and get this for your YA reader.

I wouldn’t be true to my samepage brand if I didn’t take the lessons of the blog into my classroom! Our historical fiction unit always focuses on important times in our history that are actually happening concurrently – a time when landmark decisions were being made with respect to segregation, and this introduction to Sylvia Mendez is always leaving our fourth graders eager to learn more! So few are aware that before Brown vs. Board of Ed, there was Sylvia vs. Westminster. The author’s distinct Mexican art fills the pages of this must-read picture book.

📖 Take a cue from my own curriculum and pair this with middle grade novel Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling, a multi-perspective story about how Sylvia ends up living in a girl who has been forcefully migrated to a Japanese internment camp. (My students gasp EVERY year when they make the connection!)

📖 George Takei wrote an incredible graphic novel for YA readers entitled They Called Us Enemy. It’s a fascinating tale of country and loyalty that will tie into the prior two stories with ease.

📖 Finally, if you are looking to learn more about some of the female figures in the fight against school segregation, look no further than adult novel A Girl Stands at the Door by Rachel Devlin.

This book. Oh wow, it hurt my heart. I wanted to pull Hannah into a hug as she works through what feels like a never-ending fifth grade year wrecked by a bullying scandal. What resonates so deeply and so purely is the way the author uses Hannah’s love for stories not just to steer the book forward, but to ignite reader’s interest into whose story is really being told and what message Hannah is trying to convey. I loved it.

📖 Nothing feels more gratifying than allowing stories to become our North Star. Pair this with picture book The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski!

📖 If you enjoy narratives with a time hop to keep you on your toes, pair this with YA book Again Again by E. Lockhart.

📖 If you’re willing to embrace the notion that people are just trying to do their best, I highly recommend pairing this with Anxious People, an adult novel by Frederick Backman. There’s a who-dunnit element to both stories, but is that really what they’re about?

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