Fly With Me is a masterpiece of transdisciplinary study. The book examines birds from every possible angle: biological, historical, conservation, art, and stories. Poetry is peppered throughout complementing the other information. It's a National Geographic book, so you can trust that the photography throughout is stunning. Perfect for bird enthusiasts and curious minds.
Reading comforts me. I find magazines in trash piles. Reading leads to writing. I find poetry in tomato fields, and stories in the faces of weary workers.
-from "Tomas Rivera" by Margarita Engle
This gorgeous collection of poetry highlights many lesser-known figures from artists to activists. The poems are short but inspiring and made me want to learn more about the people described. It would be a great class share, especially with the full-page mixed media illustrations that could each make beautiful posters on their own. Brief additional biographical information is included in the back, but you will probably want to do more research on your own after reading.
Bravo!: Poems about amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Since we left home we haven't stopped singing. My father says if we keep singing, we'll scare away all the tiredness and the fear and become a song.
This collection of poems tells the story of migration from Central America to the United States. The author himself grew up in El Salvador and came to the United States in the 1980's, fleeing war in his home country. The poems range from the specific story of an individual to describing the migrant experience as a whole. They move in time chronologically starting in Central America and ending in the United States. Each poem has both a Spanish and English version and they're accompanied by beautiful, dreamy acrylic paintings. The poems are short, but their impact is big and could easily spark longer discussions and more research into the migrant experience.
"My mother has a gap between her two front teeth. So does Daddy Gunnar. Each child in this family has the same space connecting us."
It's hard to write anything about this book that will do it justice. On the surface it's a memoir about an African American author growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. But it's not really about any one thing just as a person's life isn't about any one thing. There are parts about her family, her struggles with learning to read, and how she eventually found her voice as an author. The things Woodson chooses to describe are just as interesting as the way she chooses to describe them. The language is simply gorgeous. If you have an interest in memoirs, history, poetry, family life, or just want to read something extremely well-written then this is the book for you.
"On paper, things can live forever. On paper, a butterfly never dies."
Erica's Picks 4th - 7th Grade Tags: Biography, Family Life, History, Novels in Verse, People of Color, Poetry
Neftali looks up to his father and is eager to please him, but everything that he does just seems to disappoint. Neftali's father disapproves of the little treasures that he stops to pick up wherever he goes: a pinecone, an old boot, a shell. His father is embarrassed by Neftali’s small size and stutter. But the most common reprimand Neftali hears is "Stop that incessant daydreaming!" Neftali wants to please his father, but how can he stop contemplating the world when it is full of such wonders?
True to its title, this book has a lovely lyrical, dream-like quality. It reflects the personality of Neftali perfectly and this mood is enhanced by lines of verse and surreal drawings throughout the text. Fellow daydreamers, writers, and artists will find inspiration in this story based on the childhood of the famous poet Pablo Neruda.
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan & Peter Sis
Erica's Picks 3rd - 6th Grade Tags: Biography, Character Driven, People of Color, Poetry
Ha's mother says that it's luckier for a boy to be the first one to walk around the house on New Year's Day so that honor always goes to one of her brothers. Still, she can't resist secretly waking up just after midnight to touch one toe to the ground. Perhaps she shouldn't have, because this year everything has gone wrong. The war is spreading and Ha's family is fleeing to America for safety. Ha was happy with her family in Vietnam but now everything seems inside-out. She wonders if things will ever go back to the way they were or if her family will be cursed forever.
This novel is written in verse that is sparse and beautiful, yet says so much. The plot moves along and the reader gets to know Ha and everyone around her through her poems. Each poem has a clear subject and could stand on its own, but together they form a bigger picture. The novel is based on the author’s life, so it felt very authentic. Fans of poetry will enjoy this book, but those aren't the only ones. The book reads very similarly to a regular novel so anyone interested in learning about other cultures, and Vietnam in particular will be able to enjoy this book. Anyone who has ever felt like a fish out of water or who has had to deal with older brothers will be able to relate to Ha.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Erica's Picks 3rd - 6th Grade Tags: Family Life, Historical Fiction, Novels in Verse, People of Color, Poetry