Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Wonderful Poetry of Robert Frost

Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

           I chose to blog this week about a very famous poem from Robert Frost called Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  Robert Frost was born on March 26. 1874 and died on January 29, 1963. He is most well known for his realistic depictions of rural life. I was lucky to find the picture book version of this poem. As I looked through the book, the pictures were created with amazing detail and expressed the words of Frost's poem perfectly. Although I had to read the poem more than once, it is very interesting to me and should be shared with children.  I was also happy to see that the picture book version allows children the chance to read this very adult like poem. The pictures really help to bring the poem to life and help children to envision what the speaker is doing in the poem. What I found particularly interesting was the pictures on each page were mostly in black and white, however, the speaker was highlighted with color. This helps to show the audience that the speaker is very important to the poem.
         The speaker in the poem is a traveler who uses a horse on one of the darkest nights of the year.  He admires the woods that are building up with snow. After admiring the woods, he remembers that he cannot stay long and has obligations to fulfill. For a moment in the woods he is able to get away from life's agenda.  In the woods he is able to escape from the craziness of life and admire the beauty of nature. I felt cery connected to this poem.  I find that when I rarely get the chance to stop and enjoy the beauty of nature, I can truly just relax and not think about anything else.  Sometimes life can be so busy and it becomes very hard to take advantage of the beauty that is all around us. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Multicultural Literature

Show Way Written By Jacqueline Woodson in 2005

                                                Multicultural Children's Literature

                     Multicultural literature helps to introduce children to other cultures and enhances respect for other individuals. Children are able to learn about different races, cultures, and historical events. There are four major ethnic groups that have contributed to the world of multicultural literature which are, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. My focus for this blog is on African American stories, which are mostly based on oral storytelling and many have to do with slavery.
                   The book that I chose for this week's blog is Show Way written by Jacqueline Woodson.  I was first introduced to this author a couple of weeks ago and I hope that many of you will add her to your libraries.  I plan on using her for my author study because her work is important and teaches children valuable lessons. Jacqueline Woodson was born on February 12, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio.  Her family eventually moved to Bushwick Brooklyn, where Jacqueline grew up with her Grandmother.  Her work is filled with African American themes and is generally written for a young audience.  Show Way was awarded a Newberry Honor Award, which is given to prestigious children's books.
                Show Way is a relevant multicultural children's book because it tells a true story about the lives of women during the time of slavery, all the way up to the present.  Jacqueline wrote this story to provide her children with the knowledge of their family history. The story is told through nine generations of women in her family all the way up to her daughter Toshi.  The reader is first introduced to an unnamed girl who is sold away to her family at the age of seven and learns to sew quilts that show her the way to freedom, called show way.  As the story goes on, the daughters in the family learn how to sew the quilts and sell them for a living.  Near the end of the story we learn that some of the daughters learn to read, become teachers, and one in particular becomes a writer who sews quilts, and has a daughter named Toshi. Who is this, might you ask? Well it is the author, Jacqueline Woodson of course.  Each generation of women in her family passed down the knowledge of the quilt, to teach their children about their past and help them live better lives.
              This story was one that I will always want to share with my students.  Jacqueline Woodson does an excellent job of introducing children to the history of slavery and the affect it had on African American women. While reading, I was able to make many connections by thinking about my own family history and the traditions that have been passed down for me to learn and pass down to my future children. This story and its meaning can cross over many different cultures and it is extremely important to share.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Folktales, Fairytales, & Legends

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
By: John Steptoe
Written in 1993

                    A folktale is a story that grew from the lives of people and is based on culture.  Most folktales are developed from oral story telling of the people from a common culture. Fairytales, legends and myths fall under the same category as folktales. Folktales contain stories that are traditional to its culture and will contain a moral that is taught to its readers.
                    I chose to do my blog about a folktale called, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe. I have never read this book before and after reading I am happy to say that it is now a favorite of mine. The story is about two young African girls named Nyasha and Manyara. They are both very beautiful and their father Mufaro loves them very much. Nyasha was the kind hearted, gentle, and trusting sister. Manyara was selfish and only cared about ruling the land and nothing else. Manyara tells her sister Nyasha that she will one day rule as Queen and Nyasha will be her servant.  Nyasha encounters a garden snake one day that she names Nyoka. She was kind and gentle toward Nyoka.
                   Mufaro soon received word that the King was in search for his Queen. He asked that all the worthy and beautiful young women go to him so that he can chose his wife. Manyara believes that she is better than Nyasha and decides to leave without her sister to find the King. On her journey she encounters strange people and does not treat them very nice. Nyasha is gentle and loving towards those whom she meets. The strange beings that the girls encounter turn out to be the King. The King choses Nyasha to be his Queen because he saw in her a beautiful woman inside and out who cared for him even when she didnt know who he really was. Ironoically, Manyara becomes Nyasha's servant when she becomes Queen.
                   This story has the qualities of a great folktale because of the lesson it teaches to its readers. Beauty is only skin deep and what really matters is what is inside a person and how they treat others. Readers will walk away with livelong knowledge. I also found while reading that this story can be read as the African version of Cinderella. It was a great story and I would reccommend it to anyone!