The Gospel Cinderella

The Gospel Cinderella

Thomas, J. (2004). The Gospel Cinderella. New York, NC: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Category: Multiculturalism/Folk Literature

Synopsis of Book: When Cinderella was a baby, she was separated from her mother and was found by a Crooked Foster Mother.  Her new step mother already had twin daughters but only took Cinderella in because she needed help in the kitchen.  As Cinderella grew, her voice continued to be strong, sincere, and beautiful.  The Queen Mother Rhythm (Cinderella’s real mother) is deciding to retire and singing auditions are being held to replace her.  Cinderella’s twin stepsisters are only allowed to attend, but that won’t stop Cinderella for she is determined to sing at the audition and make her voice known.

Use in Classroom: I love this version of Cinderella because instead of having a ball, a glass slipper, and a prince that falls in love with her.  There is the Great Gospel Convention (audition), an enchanted melody, and a Prince of Music searching for Cinderella’s voice.  Comparing this Cinderella story to others would allow students to see the value in being original in writing a story.  Showing them that you can use certain aspects of a story but still make it your own would be a great lesson in creative writing.


Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Steptoe, J. (1987). Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. New York, NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.

Category: Folk Literature/Multicultural/Award Winning (Caldecott Honor Book)

Synopsis of Book: Mufaro had two beautiful daughters.  Nyasha was kind and compassionate, but her sister, Manyara, was selfish and bad tempered.  One day a messenger came to Mufaro’s home and said that the king decided to take a wife and invited the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to come before him.  Manyara believes that she is the only worthy one for the king and insists that she will become queen and that Nyasha will be her servant.  Nyasha and Manyara’s  adventure to the king’s city will show their true character and the king will see them for who they really are.

Use in Classroom: I think it would be neat to have a unit on African culture.  The people of Africa have different perspectives on things than Americans do and I think learning about this ancient culture would benefit the students’ global knowledge.  The illustrations in this book were inspired by the ruins of an ancient city found in Zimbabwe and are breath taking.  Names in African stories are made based on characteristics of that person or character.  For example, Nyasha means “mercy,” Manyara means “ashamed,” and Nyoka means “snake.”  Other African stories (or movies such as The Lion King) could be shown to the class to discuss why and how their names were arrived.  Perhaps they could look up African words and see what their name might be if they were a part of a story.

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella

San Souci, R. (1998). Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Category: Folk Literature/Multiculturalism

Synopsis of Book: This Cinderella story is told from a poor washerwoman from the island of Martinique.  She is the godmother of Cendrillon whose real mother died and father remarried.  Her new step mom makes her work as a servant and does not allow her to go to the ball.  Cendrillion wants nothing more to go to the ball in hopes to meet the prince.  Her godmother knows exactly what to do; with the magic wand her mother left her she has a plan to give Cendrillion the gift of love that she has never known.

Use in Classroom: The setting of this book is in the Caribbean and this story is loosely based on the French Creole tale.  Using this book to tie into a geography lesson when learning about the Caribbean would enhance the students learning.  They would be able to compare and contrast the two stories as well as learn new vocabulary.  Throughout the book there are French Creole words and phrases used and in the back of the book there is a glossary of all them.  Having the students write these words, what they mean, and incorporating them into their vocabulary.

The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly

Hamilton, V. (2004). The People Could Fly. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Book.

Category: Folk Literature/Multicultural/Award Winning Book (Coretta Scott King Award, Best Illustrated Children’s Book)

Synopsis of Book: “The People Could Fly” is one of the mythical old tales in the tradition of “things that never were” and has been told as soon as the slaves came to America.  The tale is about long ago in Africa, some people knew magic that enabled them to fly.  However, when they were brought to America as slaves, they forgot the magic.  Everyone except one old man.  When he couldn’t tolerate the suffering anymore, he whispered the magic words and one by one, the slaves rose up and flew to freedom.

Use in Classroom: The illustrations and words used in this book paint a picture of how slavery was for African Americans.  Using this book while discussing the civil war in Social Studies would help the students develop empathy for the slaves and know how life was for them.  Symbolism is also used throughout the story and that could be discussed with your students.  The wings/flying in this story symbolize freedom and this was shown when the African Americans had to shed their wings because they were no longer free.

Below is a Wordle of the entire book The People Could Fly

Cut From the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale

Cut From the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale

San Souci, R. (1993). Cut From the Same Cloth: American Women of Myth, Legend, and Tall Tale. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

Category: Folk Literature

Synopsis of Book: Everyone is familiar with the famous stories of Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, and Davy Crockett.  But now here are stories about strong, passionate women who bring a different side to literature.  They’re not afraid to wrestle any challenger, outwit any animal in the woods, or slay a giant single-handedly.

Use in Classroom: When learning about folk tales and fairy tales, showing this book would be a wonderful way to show that women can also be the main character and hero of a story.  Too often books are shared where males are at the center of the story while the women play smaller roles.  This book also contains stories from other countries so it would be interesting to compare and contrast the American stories to those.  By using a graphic organizer (Venn diagram) the students could make these comparisons to some of their favorite folk tales.

No Talking

No Talking

Clements, A. (2007). No Talking. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Category: Realistic Fiction

Synopsis of Book: The fifth grade at Laketon Elementary school it’s always been boys verse girls and when Dave Packer gets the idea to have a competition between the boys and girls, it starts a school revolution.  The competition is which team, boys or girls, can say the fewest words during two whole days.  The teachers and principle notice something is different with the fifth grade students and immediately take action but nothing seems to alter the competition.  Dave might have taken the whole school into chaos by simple not saying a word.

Use in Classroom: The relationship and characteristic between the boys and girls in this book can easily relate to the boys and girls in most elementary schools.  Generally at recess the boys go play football or basketball while the girls go on the play ground, play tag, or just talk.  This book would be an awesome read aloud book because it would be a great book to talk about character development and how they change over the course of the book.  The girls and boys begin to work together and not back out of the competition when the principle demands it.  It shows how people who aren’t supposed to get along, are able to and become friends.

Squish: Super Amoeba

Squish: Super Amoeba

Holm, J., Holm, M. (2011). Squish: Super Amoeba. New York, NK: Random House, Inc.

Category: Graphic Novel

Synopsis of Book: The main character of this book is Squish, an amoeba who loves to read comic books, especially The Adventures of Super Amoeba.  He goes through is daily life like a normal “kid” by attending school and hanging out with his best friends.  One day Squish and his friends get detention and one of Squish’s friends, Peggy, is getting bullied by another amoeba.  Squish feels a need to do something but doesn’t know what.

Use in Classroom: This book would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library.  It would allow students who struggle with reading to read a book that they can relate to and learn some science.  Because the book is a graphic novel and written similar to a comic book, perhaps some students are used to this type of format and will be able to read much easier than a “regular” book.  Also in the back of the book is a science experiment where you can grow your own mold.  If this was done in the classroom, students could observe what happens as well as make predictions about what will happen the next time they observe the mold.  Having the mold would also provide a way to transition a lesson into talking about organisms that we, humans, can not see without a microscope.  This concept is hard for children to grasp but with this book and activities, it will make that transition easier.

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