Babu's Song

Presented by Laurie Curtis EDEL 411 Section B

Stuve-Bodeen, S. (2003). Babu's song. New York: Lee & Low.

Information About The Book

Author: Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
Illustrator: Aaron Boyd
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Topic/Theme: Working hard and thinking creatively can help your dreams come true!
  • Children's Africana Book Award
  • Best Children's Books of the Year (Bank Street College
  • Storytelling World Award

About the Author

Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen was born in Wisconsin and did not begin writing children's books until she had experienced life in Tanzania as a Peace Corp Volunteer after graduating from college. She often writes her books from these experiences and has won many awards for her work. She also teaches middle and high school language arts and now resides in Washington with her family. For more details please see the link below.

About the Illustrator

Aaron Boyd has illustrated many books and now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His goal in life is to create beautiful art and make a friend in every region of the planet! He states in his blog that he has always wanted to be an artist- even since he was young. He has illustrated over 20 books- and notes his most unique work was a pop-up book he designed with a master paper engineer- and it was actually a company's annual report! He enjoys collaborating with others in his work. For more information and to see his work- visit the blogs below!

Criteria for High Quality Muliticultural Literature

  1. Themes are consistent with the values, beliefs, customs, traditions, and conflicts of the specific cultural group. This book demonstrates respect for one's extended family as the child in the story is conflicted when using the money he receives for something to benefit only himself (a soccer ball). It also reflects the reality of many developing countries where citizens struggle with access to education for a variety of reasons such as portrayed in the story when the family didn't have the funds for a school uniform. The portrayal of the child selling the grandfather's handmade toys at the market is indicative of many African markets that provide the main income for families.
  2. This book honors and celebrates diversity as well as common bonds in humanity. While this story takes place in Tanzania the game of soccer (football) is a universal game played all over the world. While visiting in Ethiopia I saw children playing soccer with plastic trash bags they had tied into knots in the shape of a ball. Playing a game is a universal joy of childhood.
  3. This book is rich in cultural details. The homes in the illustration are accurately portrayed as is clothing that adorns the characters. The student leaves for school barefoot, chickens are pecking in the yard, those that are in the market place have burdens they are carrying or are pulling carts with their wares. Children wearing uniforms to attend school is a culturally accurate detail that is still practiced today.

Babu's Song Lesson Idea

Grade Level 2

CCSS RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

The students will identify evidence from the text that illustrates Bernardi's character traits, specifically his actions and reactions regarding his wish for a soccer ball and his opportunity to attend school.

Lesson Procedure
  • Lesson begins with teacher showing the class a soccer ball. Asking if they have played this game- or do they prefer football. Note for students that in many parts of the world the game of soccer is called football and this is a game that is played internationally. Show a map of Africa and point out Tanzania. Help students discover that while it is far away- there are children there that go to school and love to play soccer as well.
  • Share with students that as the story is read, they will find that there are problems that occur in the story that both the little boy and his grandfather must solve. To do that they have to make some important decisions and difficult choices. Ask students to raise their hands when they see the two main characters in the story overcoming some challenges that they are faced with.
  • Read the story aloud, pausing as students note the challenges presented in the book- Bernardi can't afford to attend school and has no uniform, Bernardi wants a soccer ball, Babu can't speak to Bernardi with his words, Bernardi has to decide what to do with the money he has earned. What is the relationship between Bernardi and Babu? Why do you think Bernardi didn't buy the soccer ball once he had the money? Would you have done what Bernardi did? Why or why not? How do you think Bernardi felt about not being allowed to go to school? How do you think Babu felt about Bernardi going to school? Why? What words do you think describe Bernardi in this story? What words could you use to describe Babu? (As students share answers to these questions, ask for textual evidence).
  • Upon completion of the story students will write a brief narrative of when they have had to make a difficult decision or put the needs of somebody else ahead of their own- or when somebody did the same for them. Stories will be shared. Themes of sacrifice, honesty, hard work, team work, compassion, education (and others) may evolve through this discussion.

Laurie Curtis

Babu's Song by Laurie Curtis