Multicultural Picture Book
By Taylor Harding
The read aloud is planned for second graders. "Amazing Grace" is a picture book about a little girl named Grace who wants to try out to play Peter Pan in the school play, but her classmates say she can't because she's black and a girl. In the end Grace learns that she can do anything she sets her mind to. "Amazing Grace" was on The New York Times bestseller list.
Mary Hoffman is From Eastleigh, Hampshire, England. She has written over 90 books that range from picture books like this one to fiction books for teens. "Amazing Grace is the first book in the Grace series which together have sold over a million and a half copies.
The illustrator of this book is Caroline Binch was the reason "Amazing Grace" was listed as "One of The Best Illustrated Books of The Year" in 1991 by The New York Times.
The book gave insight on what it is like to be a black girl in elementary school. In the book Grace's grandmother, Nana, is from Trinidad, Africa. The illustrations show Nana wearing brightly colored dresses and headdresses reminiscent of African culture.
Vocabulary and Instructional Sequence
I chose two words to teach the class and those words were "voted" and "companion." Before I read the book I showed the kids a powerpoint that had definitions and pictures that went along with the words. During the powerpoint, after each word I stopped and asked the kids to talk about the word I just taught them. For example: "Turn to your shoulder buddy and talk about a companion you have." While I read the book to them, I stopped when those two words came up and asked them to raise their hands and tell me what those words meant. I would also stop and ask the children critical thinking questions about the page or sentence that I had just read. After I read the book, I did the mix-freeze activity and had the students talk about things that related to the book like times someone has told them that they can't do something. After that, to wrap the lesson up I sat the students down again and told them that no matter what color of skin you have, whether you're a boy or a girl, you can do anything you set your mind to.
Five Critical-Thinking Questions
The five questions that I asked the children were as follows:
What is a time that you were told that you couldn't do something?
What are a couple companions that you have in your life?
What are some things that you might vote on in your classroom?
How do you think Grace felt after her friends said that she couldn't be Peter Pan?
If you were in Grace's class, what would you say when you saw that Grace wanted to be Peter Pan?
-I picked "Amazing Grace" because the book is about a play and the students just acted out a play in the previous week. I figured the play was a good past experience to build on.
-I believe that the strengths of the book were the pictures. The illustrator did a phenomenal job of putting us in the head of Grace. The read aloud went well too. All of the students were involved with every question I asked them and they participated when they were asked to. The vocabulary stuck in the children's heads long enough for them to remember what the words meant when I asked them while I was reading the book, but since there was no assessment, I'm not sure if the words stuck in their minds.
-Next time I would include a stronger closing statement that would sum everything up a little better.
-Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me become more aware of a culture that is different than my own, which is always a positive thing.