Monday, January 12, 2015

Make Way for Ducklings and Gender Stereotyping

Last week, my third grade class and I read through Time's Top 100 Picture Books of All Time.  As we clicked through the list, my students "oooohed" and "aaaahed" over the books they knew, and questioned the ones they had yet to read.  That list can be found here.

After having what might be considered a small tantrum about some of the classics my students had never read, I made it my mission to make sure my students were familiar with many of the older texts.

One of these books they hadn't read was Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.  Published in 1941, this staple of my childhood follows the delightful journey of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their ducklings as they find a safe place to live.

Make Way for Ducklings has received many accolades, including winning the Caldecott in 1942.  This sweet entry into Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a Day Almanac also calls attention to this classic book.

Soon after I finished the book, one student raised his hand and asked, "So, why did Mr. Mallard just leave Mrs. Mallard when she was sitting on the eggs and teaching the ducklings?"  


He was referring to the section of the plot where the father duck leaves before the ducklings hatch in order to find out what else there is to see up the river from their nest.

This began a firestorm of conversation. 

"Because he's the dad!  He's allowed to leave to provide for his family!"

"Nuh uh.  The mom needs a vacation too."

"The mom needs to stay and sit on her eggs!"

"Yeah but the dad duck could sit on the eggs too!"

"It's like they say, 'A woman's work is never done.'" (This one cracked me up.)

During the conversation, I was half-laughing, half-very curious about the emerging talk of gender stereotypes taking hold of these nine year old kids.

I've read Make Way for Ducklings hundreds of times: to myself, to my own children, and to my students.  I admit that Mr. Mallard's desire to leave has indeed crossed my mind.  

So I am left with the following thoughts:

1. No matter how many times one reads a book to children, the response and reaction can never truly be predicted.

2. Stereotypes pop up in the most unpredictable places.

3. Conversations about stereotyping can and should occur in the most unexpected places.

4. Allowing children to respectfully and excitedly disagree with each other is appropriate.  And needed.  Controversy=engagement.

5. Community read-alouds to an entire class provides a foundation to springboard thoughts and discussions on other days and in other formats.  

What classic picture books have you read recently that have similar underlying messages or issues?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Must Read in 2015: Finally, Commitment

Full disclosure:
I had a difficult time writing my #mustreadin2015 list this year.  Strange, because I had no challenges blogging my 2014 list last year.  You can find that list here

I did not want to commit this year.  The piles of books next to my bed are growing like weeds.  How can I commit to any of them and not to others?

These are a small portion of the stacks in my house, and most of these aren't on my lists.  
#help #trainwreck 

So, I am telling myself, "Self, these are the books you will definitely read.  The others that you will also read (because there will be others), can just be added to the list as you go."

Be sure to check out Carrie Gelson's blog to see her list and many others!

Here is my list for 2015, in no particular order:  
(And thank you to my nerdy husband T$ and nerdy friends Lesley, Jason, Michele, and even #strohreadsnation for encouraging me to stop procrastinating and just commit already.)

MG Novels
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier Read Jan. 2015
Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli Read Mar. 2015
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier Read June 2015
Jack by Liesl Shurtliff Read June 2015
The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern Read Jan. 2015
Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
Circa Now by Amber McRee Turner Read Apr. 2015
Bird & Squirrel on Ice by James Burks Read Feb. 2015
Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks Read Feb. 2015
The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett Read April 2015
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt Read March 2015
One For the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr Read August 2015
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander Read Feb. 2015
Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan  Read Mar. 2015
All the Answers by Kate Messner
The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Read June 2015
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson Read Apr. 2015
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler Read June 2015
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart Read June 2015
Nnewts by Doug TenNapel Read June 2015
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg Read June 2015
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold Read June 2015
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate Read July 2015
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley Read July 2015
How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue by Jess Keating
The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods Read August 2015
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord Read August 2015
Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett Read August 2015

YA Novels
Paper Towns by John Green Read Jan. 2015
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith Read Feb. 2015
Winger by Andrew Smith Read June 2015
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey Read Jan. 2015
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall Read Feb. 2015
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith Read June 2015
The Selection (#1) by Kiera Cass Read June 2015
The Elite (#2) by Kiera Cass Read June 2015
The One (#3) by Kiera Cass 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein Read August 2015

Adult Novels
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Read Jan. 2015
Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson Read Jan. 2015 thanks to T$.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Read Mar. 2015
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey Read Mar. 2015 thanks to T$.

Join us!

PS I also got married this past November (in a bookstore!), so I guess "commitment" is a theme. You can read about my little love story here.

He's promised to blaze through my #mustreadin2015 list "like Sherman through Atlanta."