Julia Raucci’s Book Review #5: I Like Myself!

The award-winning children’s book I Like Myself! written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow, teaches the lesson of self love and respect; something that children of all ages should learn.

As stated above, the theme of this book is to like yourself, no matter what people say or think, including the bad things that you may think about yourself. This is a tragic thing to watch, especially in children, to watch them dislike a piece of themselves, or even all of them. Especially with the unrealistic images and thoughts that our society and social media is bombarding us with, it is important to tell our students that they are worthy and loved and good enough just the way they are. It is very difficult to talk to and teach a student who believes they are unintelligent. With that being said, I strongly recommend this book to children as young as kindergarten and pre-school, and even being reread to older students in third and fourth grade, though it might seem a bit silly to them.

Self love, self respect, and self care is essential to living a happy and successful life and this book explains this in a way for children to understand. The illustrations add to the joyful mood of this book, with a bright purple background and children jumping up and down, so filled with unconditional love for themselves.

I will certainly be placing this book in my future classroom library for my students to read as much as they’d like or need to. I believe this book is an essential piece to every elementary, especially early elementary, classroom.

Julia Raucci’s Book Review #4: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

This is one of the most adorable book I’ve ever read. The book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, written by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, is colorful, understandable, and teaches a wonderful lesson about being happy with what you have.

The theme of this book is about being happy with what you have. This is an important lesson to teach all children, but specifically children in kindergarten and first grade. The plot takes you along with a mouse who has a cookie. The cookie is just not enough for the mouse, so he asks for a glass of milk. After the milk he asks for another thing and another thing and another thing! I think this is an important book to teach our young children, especially in this generation and upcoming generations where we are in the world of technology. Everything is fast paced, constantly moving, and children get bored easily. It is important to teach them to be grateful for what you have because when you don’t have it, you might want it again. Appreciate the little things (and big things!) in life and don’t take anything in your life for granted.

The pictures in this book are vibrant and bold. Accompanied by a green background, our protagonist, the mouse, is seen next to a giant cookie, a giant cup of milk, and so on and so forth. The illustrations add a bit of humor into this picture book and are sure to keep young children captivated throughout the whole book.

Julia Raucci’s Book Review #3: Rainbow Fish

The book Rainbow Fish, written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister, is a story about sharing and being selfless, while learning about the importance of caring about the ones you love at the same time.

The book’s theme, as mentioned above, is about sharing and caring for others. Rainbow Fish, our protagonist, is a little fish with vibrant and beautiful scales. His friends all would like to have on of his scales, but he refused, as he wants to keep them all for himself. Without spoiling the rest of the book, we can infer what is going to happen based on our theme.

The pictures in this book are bright, shiny, and colorful. The Rainbow Fish’s scales shine and glisten and capture the eye of children of all ages. The illustrator, Marcus Pfister, did a wonderful job capturing the mood of the book while enhancing and supporting the plot and understanding of the characters through the drawings.

I recommend this book for all elementary ages, as this is a wonderful lesson to teach all children. However, due to the fun illustrations and text used, I will recommend this strongly to grades kindergarten through second. The story is simple enough to understand, yet extremely important to learn, and the pictures will keep them engaged throughout the duration of the read aloud.

This was one of my favorite books growing up and I am very excited to hopefully be given the chance to read this to my students one day.

Julia Raucci’s Week 6 Blog: Performance Task

Assessment portion-

5a. The free bird had a calm, happy, fulfilling life. He dipped his wings in the orange sun rays, meaning he flew all throughout the sky as much as he pleased. The word choices in his sections of the poem provided a calm, serene image in my mind.

5b. The phrases that are continually repeated throughout the poem are

The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.

These lines must be repeated because it shows the life of the caged bird. She uses words like “fearful”, “unknown”, “distant”, and “longed for”. These are all dark, deep, depressing words that should make the reader sympathize and feel empathy for the bird who is living a very unhappy, unnatural life.

5c. The message that Angelou was trying to get across to her readers is that living a trapped, confined life is not and never will be a happy one. In order to be truly happy and content, one must be free to do as he or she pleases. She does a beautiful job comparing and contrasting the caged bird to the free one, as it makes it easier for the reader to understand the confinements that are set. Some humans don’t realize that they are trapped, very much like the cage bird is.

5d. The two poems both talk about being unhappy in confinement. Both poems are talking about beat down birds who are longing for freedom to do as they please, and the human in “Sympathy” understands the tragic confinements that the caged birds are forced to live in. They may both be talking about birds, but we can analyze these poems and see that they are also talking about humans. Humans that are literally trapped in a space, or even humans who are trapped in their minds. We will never live happy and fulfilling lives unless we are as free as the free bird dipping its wings in the orange sky.

Julia Raucci’s Week 6 Blog: Reading Task

I am annotating the second article, Poetry Top 10: A Foolproof Formula for Teaching Poetry, written by Mara Linaberger.

“We can all remember a particular high school or college-level English class in which the teacher required us to read selected poems from a large and ominous-looking anthology of long-dead poets. I can clearly remember the fear I felt when one such instructor asked me to voice my opinion about the meaning of a particular poem. Even worse, I can remember being asked to write in the style of that poet. I also recall that I failed miserably in my at tempts to mimic the poet’s rhymed meter. This may have something to do with my discomfort teaching or writing rhymed poetry today.” YES I have experienced many moments like this. I don’t remember being taught anything about poetry until I got to college and, to be honest, I felt like quite the failure when I took my first creative writing class. The whole first half of the class was solely on poetry and I hard a very difficult time interpreting what it all meant. I certainly have that “fear factor” and I refuse to let that be passed down to my future students. Poetry should be fun and interesting to learn about!

The whole section on Jordan’s poetry was extremely inspiring. It is wonderful to see a student dive right into something that puts a bit of fear in me and watch them overcome, learn, and thrive. I wrote a lot about this section the the writing task blog.

“It is sad that many teachers, particularly elementary school teachers, do not approach the teaching of poetry writing at all.” Agreed! Poetry is one of the main genres of literature. It should be taught in elementary school. We do not need another generations of students with that “fear factor” towards poetry!

Julia Raucci’s Week 6 Blog: Writing Task

To start, this is my 20th blog post! Wow, that went by fast.

This week is all about poetry. I learned a lot from these two reading tasks this week, but the second article stuck out to me the most. Specifically when the author discusses flopping a poetry assignment in her high school class when she was a student. I can’t remember being taught poetry in elementary, middle, or high school. The only experiences I can remember with poetry was a college class I took that was all about creative writing, the first half of the class being solely poetry. This was terrifying, the “fear factor” that the author of the second article talks about. It is a difficult task to interpret and write your own poetry, especially if you were not taught at an early age. As the author of our first article says, one of the major genres of literature is poetry. So, why then, is poetry not taught more intensely at the elementary level?

In the second article, our author mentions a student named Jordan. Jordan was said to be in 3rd grade and poetry is quite a new concept for him and his peers. Our author mentions that young students are not as afraid to go for it and dive into writing and imitating poetry and certain poet’s styles. Our author found this to be true with Jordan, as he dove in and wrote his first poem about Thanksgiving and turkey. Though the poem was not perfect, he knew the basics about formatting. Poems are not written like stories or essays, the paragraphs are not the same. After learning a poem about “The Third Eye” Jordan took pieces of the poet’s writing style to create his own poem about his third eye. There are clear differences between his first and second poem, proving that he is taking into consideration what the poet has done and using his own creativity and imagination to build upon that foundation. This brings us to Jordan’s remarkable third poem. He imitated a poet’s numbered stanzas and, while still talking about Thanksgiving, he was able to incorporate many adjectives and different events, such as a parade and a pet lion. He used repetition and repeated the words “yellow” and “lion”, along with many other, which is another style of poetry that he dove into. What wonderful growth for a third grader! If only we all had experiences like this in elementary school, maybe teachers today wouldn’t have that “fear factor” about teaching poetry.

Poetry is a creative outlet. There is no right or wrong thing to write about. By reading the imagination and creativity that our students put into their poems, adults can become inspired to devise their own. Poetry is all about interpretation, this is something that both authors in both articles talked about and it is important that our students learn that. We can use poetry to talk about real controversial issues in our society today and let our readers interpret what they will from it. Our poems on these issues can take a light-hearted or serious route, but still convey the same message. To me, poetry is like a song. Though there are no literal instruments, there is rhythm in the way the words are placed and through the choices of words the author chooses. There is a wonderful quote, “when words fail, music speaks.” This is a quote by Hans Christian Andersen and I think it fits beautifully with poetry. “When words fail, poetry speaks.”

Poetry is inspiring. Poetry is creative. Poetry is like music in the sense that it is like a universal language. It can speak about love or hate and be interpreted in numerous ways. What better a lesson than poetry to teach our students about issues in the world? Let them analyze and interpret the words with a teacher’s assistance, and maybe we will all lose that “fear factor.”

Julia Raucci’s Handbook for Boys Blog: Peter the Grape- Kevin Screws Up

Wow, the first thing I have to mention is how wonderful this book is. If given the opportunity, I would 100% teach this book to 6th graders.

The first chapter I will be discussing is Peter the Grape. I think this is an extremely valuable chapter, as it mentions self care. Self care is something that often goes out the window when life begins to pile up. Middle school is a rough patch in a lot of people’s lives. There is a lot going on, mental health wise, physically, and emotionally. To read a book that talks about a multimillionaire who values self care is an important lesson for sixth graders to learn. Self care is important. That’s part of the reason why Peter became so successful!

The chapter Bobby Brown is one of the first chapter where we see Jimmy becoming a mini Duke, so to speak. Jimmy came up to Duke for advice this time. Duke didn’t just give it to Jimmy without asking, Jimmy wanted it. This, in my opinion, is a huge step for Jimmy. This shows that Jimmy cares and is beginning to have empathy for others around him, besides his mother. Jimmy wants to help a kid at school is a similar way that Duke is helping him. This is another wonderful lesson to teach students, to help your peers. Sometimes the people around you are going to struggle and it’s okay to reach out and try to help them. It is also okay to ask for help if you are unsure of what to do, just as Jimmy did to Duke. This chapter is very significant because the reader can see our protagonist, Jimmy, turning into a very well-rounded and evolved character.

The final chapter, Kevin Screws Up, was my favorite chapter in the whole book. On page 202, Kevin talks to Jimmy about peer pressure. Because of the peer pressure that Kevin endured and gave into, he “screwed up” and will have to face the consequences for that. Then, the book did a complete 360. On page 208, Jimmy stood up to peer pressure! This shows that he clearly was listening and learned so much from Duke, Cap, and Mister M. He saw what would happen if he stayed on the same path, just as Kevin did, and decided to turn his life around with the words of Duke in his mind. I was so proud of our fictional character, but I was also quite sad that the book ended here. I would love for there to be a part 2! I have become so attached to our growing, intelligent, well rounded protagonist that I want to keep reading about how his life turns out.

I believe this book was one huge lesson to teach our students. The theme of this book is to always make smart choices and to believe in yourself. If Jimmy had made smart choices to begin with, he would’ve never ended up upsetting his mother and working in the barber shop. However, since he make bad choices, he had to pay the consequences. From there on out, he was bombarded with lessons, mainly from Duke, about how to lead a smart and successful life. Clearly, Jimmy listened and took these lessons to heart. We know this because in the last chapter, he put all these lessons together. He knew who he was, what he wanted in life, and made a smart choice to stand up to what he knew was wrong. This is a book that our students need to learn from, and a book that I wish I had when I was in middle school!