Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else…. Edited by Elise Paschen. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010.
You’re gonna’ love this book, just like other teens have because…
And so it goes. One delicious discovery after the other.
Had enough? No, NO, NO, Professor Tonio.
Stay tuned: The next time we meet:::poems by teens themselves in You Hear Me?: Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys and Things I Have to Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls, both edited by Besty Franco.
In the meantime: WRITE A POEM: A MEMORY POEM.📝
First, go to:
6 TIPS FOR WRITING A POEM ABOUT MEMORIES https://www.powerpoetry.org/resources/writing-memory-poems
And then take a look at some good examples of memory poems:
Memory Poems | Poetry About Memories https://www.poetrysoup.com/poems/memory
Ready to write? Think friends, family, first love, pets, teachers…
Go ahead, get that poem down. Put your poem and/or your notes about the poem in your writer’s notebook. HUH? Writer’s WHAT? Right here, on this website, you’ll find my blog about WRITING TOOLS. That’s where you’ll find a description of the writer’s notebook. Go there now. Be happy.
And away we go…
In a Book … You Can
Live royally in the ancient past —-a king, a queen
Move to a galaxy far away and in between
Join a protest —-shout cheers for human rights
Convert a bully —-do away with painful strife
Swim through the depths of a restless sea
Climb to the top of a rain forest tree
(Oh, what a landscape you’ll see)
Fly off on a dragon, a shape-shifting wonder
Survive a harsh battle, lament the plunder
Build a skyscraper, touch a cloud
Win Olympic gold medals in front of a cheering crowd
Learn about mean folks hurtful to those from afar have come
Meet up with kind folks who welcome others into their home
Enjoy a weird mystery, let’s fathom the deep-buried clues
Hear the crowds cheer on your heroes, drown out the thunderous boos
Open a book, awaiting you there long-lasting treasures
Read a book, savor the never-ending pleasures
Share a book, a precious gift you’ll give
A wondrous guide, oh, yes, a compass for how to live
Listening to Your Character’s Voice~~~Finding Your Character’s Voice
That’s right … Ya’ gotta listen to your character to find your character’s voice… How do you want your character to speak, sound, talk?
Think about this:
When you hear a story character say: “Howdy, pardoner. What cha’ doin’ in these here parts?”
From the way this character talks, what do you think you know about this character? What might this character be wearing? In what part of the USA might this character live or work? Do you have an idea about the work this character does for a living? Give the character a name. WHEW!
Let’s try to begin understanding another character from the way they talk: “Alas, thou dost besmirch my honor with your loathsome regard for my command.”
No way am I, Professor Tonio, gonna repeat the questions I asked you to answer above. Sooooo, answer those questions about this “Alas, thou dost…” character. And give HIM or HER a name. [What fun, thinks Professor Tonio.]
Hey, ho, I made up another character for you to think about~~ but are you still thinking? Sure hope so.
This character says, “Eye shore do wont ta speak ma mind to that feller.”
That’s right. Answer those same questions and give the “Eye shore” character a name.
Ready to hear another character? Good. ‘Cause this one is from a story
I wrote. The minute this character came into my mind, my life, my story—I named him Keeper of the Forest—he talked like this:
“Ah, ah. Destiny, Destiny,” Keeper cried. “Oh, har favor not so easily gained dah. Mortal upon mortal have passed thees way desperate for Destiny’s cure,” continued Keeper. “Just as many have returned more, oooh, more and more wretched than when they set out tah. Crestfallen wahr they for having failed to receive Destiny’s guidance to change the course of thar tormented lives sah.” (Story title: Loukas and the Game of Chance, Mascot Books, published sometime in 2018. Stay tuned.)
Here we go again. NO! Here you go again. Answer those same questions. You already know the name.
Another character speaks. Actually, two characters. A father and his son. In a story written by Neil Gaiman~~you probably know him as the author of Coraline and The Graveyard Book, The Sandman series of graphic novels~~YOU SAY YOU NEVER HEARD OF THIS GUY. BAD. BAD. READ HIS BOOKS, I COMMAND YOU. IF YOU LIKE STRANGE, WEIRD, MYSTERIOUS HAPPENINGS, YOU’LL LOVE MR. GAIMAN’S STORIES ~~the characters speaking here are in Gaiman’s novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane (William Morrow, 2013):
“Dad? Where’s the car?”
“In the drive.”
“No, it isn’t.”
Pretty ordinary, right? I mean, the way these two characters talk sounds like so many people—fathers and sons—you may know. Except that there’s so much to think about—so much suspense—in so few words. Try, try, TRY AGAIN to answer the same questions.
Go ahead now: Get together with a friend and have a conversation about how the two of you answered the questions.
That’s enough, Professor Granpa Tonio! Gotta life? Gotta go.
WRITERS, CALLING ALL WRITERS. DO THIS: Here’s a writing idea:
The way a character handles disappointment reveals a great deal about what is important to him or her.
Write a story or a short scene or simply write down some notes that show what happens when your character faces a disappointment. How does she or he act? WHAT DOES HE OR SHE SAY? Ah, yes: How does your character speak?
My granfatherly advice: Make sure you say your writing in—TAH DAH—your WRITER’S NOTEBOOK. What’s that? On my website there’s a blog titled “Got Writing?” That’s where I write about using a writer’s notebook. www.anthonymannabooks.com
Calling all teachers, parents, advocates. Do you want to encourage your readers and writers to create characters who have a distinct way of speaking? Google: dialect in children’s literature and/or dialect in literature. Wow! You’ll find a lot there.
You’ll find, for three useful examples:
https://www.bankstreet.edu/library/children.../childrens-book-lists/dialect-variation/This list provides examples of children’s books books on dialect variation.
And for high school readers and writers:
Visit my website:
#Read. #Write. #Act. #Draw. #Play. #Explore.
It’s all happening at Professor Granpa Tonio’s newly-launched, in-progress website: www.anthonymannabooks.com.
Kids, teachers, parents, grandparents, partners~~oh, that’s anyone who’s wild about books for kids, tweens, teens, and beyond. Come on over and hang out. You’ll find a very special place for watching funny videos, acting out stories with friends, writing like a pro, making story art, going deep inside different kinds of literature with really cool questions and reading guides. See you there. Don’t forget to tell me what you’re reading and writing these days. And, hey, be sure to leave your comments and suggestions and interests about—you got it—reading and writing.
I invite you to: Think Think Think about READING FANTASTIC STORIES, POEMS, PLAYS, NEWSPAPERS, REPORTS--
—READING ANYTHING:::: the way a writer reads.
What does that mean? HUH? Allow the professor to explain. But ya’ gotta stay awake…
You’re a writer, right? If you say, “NO,” then I’m inviting you here and now:: TO PRETEND YOU’RE A WRITER.
You’re a reader, right? If you say, “NO,” then I’m inviting you here and now:: TO PRETEND YOU’RE A READER.
Now, invite your writer self to meet your reader self. “Howdy, writer, and hey ho, howdy reader.”
Now, you can be a writer who reads and a reader who writes.
Maybe, you’re still wondering what I—Professor Tonio—am talkin’ about??? Follow me—play it forward:::
Do you have a sport or hobby you really like—a whole lot?
You’re a gymnast, skate boarder, a basketball or baseball or soccer player, a LEGO guy or gal—like my grandsons Lucas and Anthony—or, you love to draw, dance, pole vault (WHAT??)—any activity that makes you happy even though it takes a lot or at least some effort—practice—commitment— to “stay in the game.”
Effort, yes, and this: You watch guys and gals who are in top form, who are experts, winners::: You observe their skill and learn from them. Maybe you even practice their moves AND YOU GET BETTER AT THE SPORT, THE HOBBY, THE::: WHATEVER.
Guess what? You, my friends, can read FANTASTIC STORIES, POEMS, PLAYS, NEWSPAPERS, REPORTS--
—you can read ANYTHING—mystery, fantasy, science fiction, humor, historical fiction, informational books:::: and observe the writer’s skill and learn to be a better writer: You observe the way the writer:
describes a character, a setting
does something really cool:
a characters falls into a dream
thinks backward as in a flashback
sees into the future like a wizard/sorceress.
And what do you—THE READER WHO WRITES AND THE WRITER WHO READS—what do you do— WHEN YOU OBSERVE A WRITER’S SKILL/ TECHNIQUE? JUST LIKE WITH A SPORT OR HOBBY OR AN ART:
You observe the skill/technique and learn from it. Maybe you even practice the skill/technique AND YOU GET BETTER AT WRITING.
[pssssst:::are you still awake?] [Good.] ‘Cause I have two examples to show you from a book many of you have read and enjoyed: PERCY JACKSON AND THE GREEK GODS by Rick Riordan (Puffin Books, 2014).
Example #1: p. 103, in the chapter titled “Persephone Marries Her Stalker (Or, Demeter, the Sequel)”: “I will make you moral, little one, Demeter thought. It’s the least I can do for your kind mother. I will make you so strong no one will ever abduct you the way my poor daughter was abducted.
Now, what’s this and what did it teach me as a writer who reads: IT’S THOSE SLANTED WORDS—ITALICS—-ITALICS TO SHOW A CHARACTER THINKING. Such a simple technique, right???? Yes, but::: It’s a cool technique I use in my most recent story called Loukas and the Game of Chance::: ‘cause the italics get my readers inside my character’s head where they observe his thinking. [psssttt…it’s not a technique I use a lot. Only when the character’s thinking is intense or radical. Get it, reader who writes and writer who reads?]
Example #2: pp. 226 - 227, in the chapter titled “Athena Adopts a Handkerchief”: “So about a million pages ago, I mentioned Zeus’s first wife, the Titan Metis. Remember her? Neither did I. I had to go back and look….”
And this: “As you can imagine, this gave Zeus a splitting headache.”
What’s the technique that I like here: The writer—the storyteller—carries on a conversation with the reader. I love that. I love the relationship that creates. Someday, I’ll try using this technique: “talking” directly with my readers. Someday I’ll experiment with this technique to see if I can make it work. Cool, Professor Tonio.
Readers and writers. I gotta go. So do you, no doubt. But, listen up, please: My granfatherly advice: When you find a writer’s technique that you like: MAKE SURE YOU MAKE A BRIEF NOTE ABOUT IT IN YOUR —TAH DAH— WRITER’S NOTEBOOK. What’s that? On my website there’s a blog titled “Got Writing?” That’s where I write about using a writer’s notebook.
Come for a visit. There are some cool things to check out there. See ‘ya.
Calling all teachers, parents, advocates. Do you want to encourage your readers and writers to read as a writer reads? Google: Mentor Texts. Wow! You’ll find a lot there.
Also, try this: www.teachmentortexts.com.
And there’s also this favorite book of mine: Mentor Author, Mentor Texts: Short Texts, Craft Notes, and Practical Classroom Uses by Ralph Fletcher (Heinemann, 2011).
Granpa Professor Tonio, the Book Guy
Resources, Resources, Resources ~Websites for Children’s, Middle Grade, and YA Literature
American Indians in Children’s Literature (americanindiansinchildrensliterture.org) ~If you want to know if the book you’re considering presents an accurate and authentic perspective on an American Indian experience, then you’ll most likely find information about the book at Dr. Debbie Reese’s site. Reese, a Nambe Pueblo Indian, established AICL in 2006 to provide “criticial perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books.” Her detailed book reviews are eye openers about Native American cultures, and the entire site offers a great deal of information about the history and culture of indigenous peoples.
American Library Association (ala.org) ~Are you familiar with the Newbery and Caldecott awards? What about the Coretta Scott King Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the (Theodor Seuss) Geisel Award, and the Printz Award? Well, all of these awards and many more are sponsored by the American Library Association. Go to ala.org and you’ll be amazed by the book choices the ALA awards introduce you to as a reader, parent, and teacher.
Becky’s Book Reviews (blbooks.blogspot.com) ~Hostess Becky established her blog “To promote the love of reading by providing teens, tweens, parents, teachers, librarians, fellow bloggers, and booklovers of all ages, with reviews of books published for children, young adults, and adults.” True to her goal, her blog is a treasure trove of detailed reviews, reading challenges, and an easy-to-access archive of hundreds of reviews. The site is user friendly, inviting, and very interesting to navigate.
Brightly (readbrightly.com) ~The Brightly newsletter offers book recommendations, reading tips, and seasonal inspirations for children, teens, and parents. Browsing through one of the newsletters, I found practical guides and inspiring suggestions for motivating kids and teens to enjoy reading. Some examples from just one issue: “25 of the Most Exciting Picture Books of Fall 2017,” “12 Nonfiction Books Kids Will Actually Read,” “10 Must-Have Books for 2-Year-Olds,” “10 Things You Can Do This Summer to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten,” “Children’s Books That Show Kids the Goodness in the World,” “Happily Ever After: 17 Multicultural Fairy Tales to Delight Every Child,” and, for teens, “10 Books for Fans of We Were Liars.”
Children’s Book Council (ccbooks.org) ~The CBC is dedicated to motivating children and teens to become lifelong readers. To meet this challenge, CBC sponsors Children’s Book Week, Children’s and Teen Choice Book Awards (books selected by children and teens), the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and annual best books lists for STEM books, social studies and science trade books, and all sorts of information about authors, illustrators, and the book industry.
Cynsations (cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com) ~ Best-selling and award-wining author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Feral series, Tantalize series, and many other children’s and YA books) manages an active blog about children’s and YA book news, author outreach, publishing information, and writer resources.
E-book poems and resources: PoetryFridayAnthology.Blogspot.com; PoetryTagTime.Blogspot.com; TeenPoetryTagTime.Blogspot.com; PoetryGiftTag.Blogspot.com; PoetryforChildren.Blogspot.com; PoetryTeachersBookofLists.Blogspot.com.
Guys Read (guysread.com) ~What can a teacher or parent do to get the males in their lives interested and even passionate about reading? The support this site provides to lure males ages two to adulthood into reading is phenomenal. Books recommended by teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, parents, and guys themselves cover a wide range of interests and tastes including action/adventure, the comic, nature/exploring, traumatic or life events, and the creepy and weird. Author interviews and audio books also enrich the experience. Wander and wonder.
Kenn Nesbitt, Children’s Poet Laureate (2013-15) ~Visit this wildly popular poet’s website at poetry4kids.com. Nesbitt’s poems have appeared in numerous bestselling anthologies, school textbooks, and children’s magazines. His website is the most visited children’s poetry website on the internet. Wacky humor is his brand, and it rocks!
Kidlitosphere (kidlitosphere.org) ~Kidlitosphere Central is the site of The Society of Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The bloggers are book reviewers, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, parents, and other fans of children’s and young adult literature. You don’t have to be a blogger to receive daily online book reviews, a monthly round-up of good books for kids and teens, weekly blogs on nonfiction and poetry, and the annual list of CYBILS, award books chosen by bloggers.
KidLit TV (www.kidlit.tv) ~KidLit TV is an award-winning entertaining and motivational site where books come alive with inspiring author and illustrator interviews, story time events with authors, drawing events with illustrators, podcasts, and all sots of information about books and the people who write, illustrate, and promote them.
Latinxs in Kid Lit (latinosinkidlit.com) ~A site that explores the world of Latinx YA, middle grade, and children’s literature. The site’s goals are to “engage with works about, for, and/or by Latinxs; offer a broad forum on Latinx children’s, MG, and YA books; promote literacy and the love of books within the Latinx community; examine the historical and contemporary state of Latinx characters; encourage interest in Latinx children’s, MG, and YA literature among non-Latin@ readers; share perspectives and resources that can be of use to writers, authors, illustrators, librarians, parents, teachers, scholars, and other stakeholders in literacy and publishing.”
Lisening Library (www.booksontape.com) ~Listening Library’s range of available children’s, middle grade, and YA audio books is overwhelming, but that’s the joy of knowing about this source for fantastic listening experiences. LL’s quality is notorious. Some of the best voices are chosen to give a book its best dramatic reading in keeping with its overall tone. Books come alive in the Listening Library.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day (multiculturalchildrensbookday.com) ~This is a very popular annual event dedicated to raising awareness for books that explore diversity. The program offers free resources for teachers and parents that can keep the focus on multicultural books active throughout the entire year. Some “freebies”: diversity book award lists, free book for teachers, fee book for reviewers, book giveaways on Multicultural Children’s Book day blog, free classroom kindness kit (ages 4 - 12), and a free Multicultural Children’s Book Day poster. Stay tuned and stay in touch.
PoetryforChildren.blogspot.com ~A fabulous resource that includes a comprehensive list of poetry websites and blogs.
Prose and Kahn (proseandkahn.blogspot.com) ~This upbeat blog explores “Reviews and ramblings about children's and young adult literature by an absentminded middle school librarian.” The reviews are revealing and conversational, accessible and inspiring. Occasional reviews of audiobooks are included.
The Educators Spin on It (theeducatorsspinonit) ~Two former classroom teachers have put together a website that features exciting activities for kids 0 to 8. The activities invite children to engage in reading, writing, math, science, cultural diversity, travel, cooking, crafting, learning a second language, and gardening. The activities foster kids’ learning through hands-on experiences that help build self-confidence and self-esteem.
The Horn Book (hbook.com) ~Are you serious about wanting to explore children’s and YA books? Interested in informative book reviews that’ll send you searching? Interviews with authors and illustrators? Subscribe to The Horn Book Magazine at hbook.com
/subscriber-info. And on hbook.com, you’ll find news and information about award-winning books, classroom strategies for teaching literature, and interesting book-related hot topics. There’s also a wealth of enlightening reviews in The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online.
The Midwest Book Review (midwestbookreview.com) ~It’s a site providing links to hundreds of book reviews written by volunteer reviewers. The link to Children's Bookwatch Index comprises reviews of books, music, games, and DVDs ideal for preschool through young adult readers. The titles are suitable for family, school, and community library collections. Amazing information for book lovers, teachers, librarians, and all other reading enthusiasts.
The Miss Rumphius Effect (missrumphiuseffect.blogspt.com) ~Reviews of poetry and nonfiction books, thematic book lists, ready-to-use lesson plans for teaching various types of poetry, interesting links to blogs about promoting and teaching good books —-that’s what this blog from a teacher educator is all about.
The Picture Book Review (thepicturebookreview.com) ~A blog that features reviews of picture books and books with pictures. Authors, illustrators, publishers, and publicists submit books for possible review. A visually stunning site.
The Poetry Friday Anthology: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core. Compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Princeton, NJ: Ponmelo Books, 2012. The K-Grade 5 edition contains 218 poems by 76 poets explored in brief exciting lesson plans that encourage kids to experience poetry with drama, read-clouds, and personal connections to content and theme. The grade 6-8 edition (Pomelo Books, 2012) contains 110 poems by 71 poets, and I was just as wowed by the poems and activities in this edition that are sure to attract middle school kids. The teaching and reading strategies invite middle schoolers to participate in poetry as a way to comprehend it. Practical and inspiring.
Virginia Hamilton Conference (www.kent.edu/virginiahamiltonconference or www.facebook.com/virginiahamiltonconference) ~The longest-running event in the United States to focus exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults, the annual Virginia Hamilton Conference honors author Virginia Hamilton and reflects her commitment to promoting cultural awareness and affirming cultural pride. Teachers, librarians, and kid lit enthusiasts of all kinds gather at the conference to participate in workshops and hear authors and illustrators describe their art and mission.
We Are Teachers (weareteachers.com) ~While this site is all about teaching ideas, classroom management, and professional development, it also gives a lot of attention to children’s interests, needs and diversity. Check out the site’s book lists such as “50 Nonfiction Picture Books for Learning About the World.”
We Need Diverse Books (weneeddiversebooks.org) ~Diversity in the broadest, most inclusive meaning of the term is what drives the We Need Diverse Books mission. “We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities,” wrote the organization’s team on its website. We Need Diverse Books advocates for diversity with writing contests, teaching tips, resources for writers, grants to support interns who’d like to pursue a career in publishing, annual book awards, comprehensive book searching resources, and mentorships for aspiring writers and illustrators..
Now that you’ve read Loukas and the Game of Chance by Professor Granpa Tonio…it’s time…
to shARe your discoveries ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE STORY, WHO MAKES IT HAPPEN, WHERE AND WHEN THINGS HAPPEN, THE BIG IDEAS THE STORY GOT YOU TO THINK ABOUT …
OKAY! OKAY, PROFESSOR GRANPA TONIO,
WE GET IT: DISCUSS, WRITE, SHARE, LEARN FROM OTHER READERS AND WRITERS …😳
What to do? You could follow the directions your teacher provides to work with the following questions and prompts, or you could form a book club with your friends who’ve read Loukas and the Game of Chance and divvy up the questions and prompts for club members to explore and then share their ideas. Be sure to write down your ideas. In your Notebook? Reading log? Reading Journal?
Remember: You are a unique reader. Very special. Your ideas are also unique. Very Special. Be sure to write down your ideas about Loukas and the Game of Chance. Share them!
Use your journal to record your ideas, if you’d like to take that route. Which journal? On this website, there’s information about using a journal. Find it now.
Got Flute? Flute plying is so important to Loukas. Find and record a scene in the story you gives causes you to think about Loukas’s attachment to his flute.
Family Secrets. Loukas and his family keep their relationship with Lambros a secret. What does the narrator—the storyteller—reveal to you about the family’s reasons for keeping Lambros a secret?
Where, Oh, Where, Oh? The story takes place in many different settings on an island in the Aegean Sea. Find a setting that was particularly interesting and vivid. Why do you like that setting? How does the author make that place interesting and vivid? Why do you think that setting is important for your understanding of the story?
[STOP RIGHT HERE AND NOW. Want to see a really beautiful setting? Get yourself onto the internet and search “Greek Aegean Sea Islands.” Google? Google Chrome?
Wikipedia? Write down some of the facts you learned about these islands? WOW AND WOW. THERE ARE SO MANY ISLANDS IN THE AEGEAN SEA. CHOOSE ONE YOU’D LIKE TO VISIT. NAME IT. DESCRIBE IT.]
Big Ideas. Think. Think. Think. Now that you’ve read the story, think about some of the BIG IDEAS the author planted in your mind. Big ideas? YEAH. About relationships, responsibility, family, personal struggles, courage, survival, and so on and on. Got any ideas about Loukas and his problems? His journey? Write ‘em down quickly. Get ‘em down. Share ‘em. WHAT DOES THIS STORY MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT?
[Oh, and by the way, another word I could use for BIG IDEA is “THEME.” ALL GOOD BOOKS GET READERS THINKING ABOUT A THEME OR A FEW THEMES. GO AHEAD: GET ON the internet. Google? Chrome? Wikipedia? Search: “LITERARY TERMS.” I PROMISE YOU THIS, READER: YOU’LL FIND GOOD IDEAS ABOUT WHAT A THEME IS? DID YOU? WRITE A FEW DOWN AND SHARE THEM WITH…WHOMEVER.]
The Journey. Authors like to set their characters off on journeys. Have you ever met Max in Where the Would Things Are by Maurice Sendak? Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll? Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien? Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster? Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle? All sorts of journeys in these fabulous books. Why do you think journeys are so popular in so many stories? What about Loukas’s journey? Why does he set off? What happens to him along the way? Whom does he meet? What does he learn? TELL ALL!
[Take a break. An art break. You’ll need a few markers in a few colors, a piece of heavy stock paper—not quite cardboard, but not as light notebook paper. Don’t worry. If you can’t find heavy-duty paper, use any kind of paper. Get it? What paper size? Typical notebook size, approximately 8 inches X 8 inches. Now what? “Sketch to Stretch.” What is SKETCH TO STRETCH? Here’s what you do: In Loukas and the Game of Chance, find a sentence or a few related sentences that really got your attention. That really meant something important to you about the characters, themes, conflicts, settings, incidents…OKAY…OKAY…GOT IT, Prof. Tonio.
Use your best handwriting to copy the sentence or sentences on your paper. Next:
Draw a scene that shows or characters that show what the sentence(s) mean(s) to you. Afraid to drew? “No talent,” you say? BAH HUMBUG. Stick figures? Squiggles? Whatever you can do to illustrate the meaning for you in the sentence(s). Be sure to fill-in the background with a color that captures the mood of the sentence(s). HAVE FUN! (Thank you, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst [Scholastic, 2017] for reminding me about this powerful activity. Cheers to a great teaching book by terrific teachers.)
Minor Character. Keeper of the Forest is what you might call a “minor” character. You know, like maybe not all that important ‘cause he doesn’t appear all that much. Like a few times. NOW HOLD ON. I, the author, don’t usually talk all that much about my writing process, but building the character I named “Keeper of the Forest” took a lot of time and energy and thought and nail-biting. To me, he isn’t minor at all. Now, take a good look at him. Reread the section of the story where Loukas finds Keeper and his cart near the path that leads into the forest. Did you do that? Read, that is? Now, do me a favor and respond to this statement: Keeper of the Forest is an important character because_____________________… That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Wow! Easy.
Drama, Drama, Who Want to Be in a Play? Hey ho and away we go, readers and writers. Allow me to introduce you all to a dramatic activity called~~~~~ANOTHER DRUM ROLL, PLEASE~~~~~~Readers Theater (RT). You’re gonna love it! Why, you may wonder. Well, RT is fun. RT involves collaboration among readers and, sometimes, writers. RT can make you a better—more fluent and more confident—reader. RT does not require memorization or moving around on a stage or forgetting your lines and getting all embarrassed. No costumes, either. With RT, readers read from a script and the reading parts are divided among readers. Scripts are held by the readers.
STOP HERE! Go here: Sixteen RT scripts from folk and fairy tales and legends by Aaron Shepard, an RT expert: Folktales on Stage @(www.aaronshep.com/rt).
Take a good look at Mr. Shepard’s scripts.
Here’s another fifteen RT play scripts adapted by Mr. Shepard from the works of fifteen authors: Stories on Stage @ (www.aaronshep.com/rt).
OKEY, DOKEY. Now you know how RT works. And now you can:
Select one of Mr. Shepard’s scripts.
Make note of the number of readers the script calls for. Make a copy of the script for every reader.
Get together with the number of friends needed to read the lines of the script.
Take your time assigning parts and reading slowly through the script.
Hold on! Ya’ gotta do this to present your RT script: Read through the script a few more times…so the reading is SMOOOOOTH, INTERESTING, AND EXPRESSIVE …Expressive??? Yes: DRAMATIC AS IN: HOW DOES EACH SPEAKER SAY THE LINES WITH FEELING OR VOICE CHANGES THAT SHOW HOW THE SPEAKER THINKS AND FEELS?
Perform your RT script for an audience. Take your time. No, not slow motion. Slow to make every word count. Energy. Make that RT script come alive with
your expressive voice.
Whew! Professor Granpa Tonio is exhausted. You all? You’re doing just fine. ENJOY!
OHHHHHH. Almost forgot: Writer Alert: You can also do this: Find a story, part of a story, a poem, or a small section from an information (nonfiction) you book like and, yes, oh, yes, build an RT script of your very own. Unique. It will be u-n-i-q-u-e.
Before You Read Loukas and the Game of Chance by Professor Granpa Tonio…
Beasts, Beauties, Monsters, Ghosts, Goblins, Witches, Shape Shifters, Hateful Brothers, Cruel Sister…
…Search, Find, Read, and Talk About Folktales and Fairy Tales
“But why?” you ask, dear students. Read on, Read on. Fright Now … ooopppsss …Right Now.
There’s a Greek folktale called The Snake Tree. Cool, right? A strange snake, a weird tree, and a mess of money. I really like this story.
I’m a greedy Granpa when it comes to reading a good story. So, I set out to make The Snake Tree into a longer story with a lot more magic, suspense, action and a few more more characters, problems, conflicts, and settings, and by settings I mean the places where the story takes place.
So I wrote, wrote, wrote and wrote some more and then… and then …
…and then The Snake Tree, a folktale, became Loukas and the Game of Chance, a fantasy story that grew out of a folktale. YAY! and HOORAY!
I’m not the only author to take a folktale or fairy tale and make a different story out of it.
Get yourself to your local library and find Beast by Donna Jo Napoli, a magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast. There’s also Marissa Meyer’s wild stories Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter where you’ll meet a Cinderella like you’ve never met her before.
Hey, maybe you remember The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, both books by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, hilarious author and illustator. Just as funny is Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story) by Trisha Speed Shaskan and Gerald Guerlais.
Can’t help but remind you of The Three Pigs by David Wiesner, a great entertainment ‘cause it’s so INVENTIVE, CLEVER, SMART, and very different from the original tale about these three porkers. HA!.
Stop right here. Take a breath. Just one long breath, please. Good.
Before you even begin reading about Loukas and his game of chance, let’s go on an adventure to explore fairy tales and folktales … But why do that? Why spend our precious time snoopin’ around folktales and fairy tales. Those old stories!
Trust me. You’ll find out as we move into questions and activities I invite you to use to do some thinking about fairy tales and folktales.
Smile now ‘cause I know how you love to work on assignments, especially super cool ones like those you’ll find here from Professor Granpa Tonio. 😀
Questions and Activities: Ready, Set, Go, Go, Go
STAY ALERT, Please. NO NAPPING. When you work through the questions and activities, keep a record of your ideas on the worksheet you’ll receive from your teacher or whoever is working with you today.
First challenge. Whether a story is called a “folktale” or a “fairy tale,” it’s a story found in a group’s or country’s or region’s or tribe’s folklore. But what is folklore? Time for you to find out.
*In the internet, find and record on your worksheet a definition for the word “folklore” in The Learner’s Dictionary (www.learnersdictionary.com). To find the definition, type the word “folklore” in the search box at the top of the dictionary’s search page. Record the definition on your worksheet
Second challenge. Get smart about folktales and fairy tales. Here goes, and don’t forget to record your ideas on your worksheet:
*Use The Learner’s Dictionary (www.learnersdictionary.com). to find a definition for “folktale” and a definition for “fairy tale.”
*Now that you know definitions for folktale and fairy tale, ask yourself: What do I think the difference is between a folktale and fairy tale? Record your answer on the worksheet.
*Why is a folktale or a fairy tale a type of folklore? Record your answer on your worksheet.
Let the fun begin, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to search for examples of folktales and fairy tales.
Beasts, Beauties, Monsters, Ghosts, Goblins, Witches, Shape Shifters, Hateful Brothers, Cruel Sister…
Have a good time.
*In the internet, find the website for American Folklore (americanfolklore.net).
*Click “United States Folklore” at the top of the page.
*Click “Folktales” in the left sidebar. Now, on the main page you have a long, l…..o…..n…..g list of American Folktales and Stories.” The tales are organized by the letters of the alphabet. Click one of the letters and find a COMPLETE tale that interests you.
Some of the stories are summaries. Click the letter L and find La Llorna, New Mexico ghost story. It’s a summary. Use the letter L to find Llorna, Omen of Death. YAY! and More YAY!! That’s a complete story. Click the letter S and find Sasquatch, a California ghost story. Another YAY YAY. That’s a complete story. So is Screaming Tunnel, found by clicking S.
On your worksheet, record information about the COMPLETE tale you read. Record the title, type of story (you’ll find a brief description of the type under the title) and the USA state, region, tribe, or group where the tale is located. For example, when you click P, you find Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado. The tale type is a “tall tale,” and its state is Kanasa.
On your worksheet: THINK! Think back to the definition you found for fairy tale and folktale. Well now. What do you think? Is the story you read a folktale or fairy tale? Why? Why? Why? Go ahead: Record your reason(s) for calling it a folktale or a fairy tale.
On your worksheet: THINK EVEN MORE! Record one sentence from the story you read that showed you something really important about one of the story characters. Who is this character and what does the sentence show about this character’s actions, thoughts, or feelings? Explain this sentence is so important to you. Explain why this sentence helps you to get to know this character.
Reminder: NO NAPPING, please.
Conflict, conflict, conflict. Every good story has some kind of huge or small conflict or struggle. It could be a struggle a character faces within himself or herself or it could be a conflict between characters. On your worksheet: Describe the conflict in the story you read or draw—yes, use the art materials your teacher gives you to make a drawing that shows the internal conflict a character is struggling with or the conflict between two or more characters. If you make a drawing, describe the drawing on your worksheet. That is, what would you like the viewer of your drawing to know about the story’s conflict.
On your worksheet, describe how the conflict ended—if it did end. Did you like the way the conflict ended? Why? Why not? If the conflict didn’t end, why do you think it didn’t end? In other words, why would the storyteller or writer choose to end the story without ending the conflict?
The story ended. Huge Question: What did you take away? In other words, what did the story make you think about … about people … about how to behave or not behave … about people’s relationships … about the way people treat each other … about facing and overcoming problems and conflicts … OKAY, OKAY… You understand, don’t you? What did you feel and think when you read the story? Use your worksheet to record your ideas.
Time for your teacher or another adult to manage the next activity. Please:
Form small groups.
Have each student use their worksheet to introduce their story, its title, its type, and the USA state, region, tribe, or group where the tale is located.
Each student tells why the tale they read is a folktale or a fairy tale.
Have them read the sentence from the story that showed them something really important about one of the story characters. Have them identify this character and what the sentence shows about this character’s actions, thoughts, or feelings? Have each student explain why this sentence helps them to get to know the character.
Next: the story’s conflict. The students describe the conflict in the stories they read. Students who made a drawing, describe the conflict in the drawing. Each student explains whether the conflict is an internal conflict a character is struggling with or a conflict between two or more characters.
Students describe how the conflict ended—if it did end. Did they like the way the conflict ended? Why? Why not? If the conflict didn’t end, why do they think it didn’t end? In other words, why would the storyteller or writer choose to end the story without ending the conflict?
Final move. Students describe what the story make them think about … about people … about how to behave or not behave … about people’s relationships … about the way people treat each other … about facing and overcoming problems and conflicts … What feelings and thoughts did they have when you read the story?
Laugh Break … WHAT? Time to take a laugh break. Here’s how: Log on to (americanfolklore.net). A the top of the page, click “Jokes and Tongue Twisters.” Choose a tongue twister from “Funny Tongue Twisters,” “Spooky Tongue Twisters,” or “Hard Tongue Twisters.” Practice saying it.
Time for your teacher or another adult to manage the next activity. Please:
Ask volunteers to recite (perform?) their tongue twisters for the entire class or have students work in pairs and recite their twisters to each other.
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, IIllustrated by Brian Pinkney. Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2002. Ages 5-9.
What’s this book about? “Let me tell you Ella’s story./‘Cause, you see, I was there. From the get-go.” That’s the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, the cool dude narrator-guide who pays homage to Ella’s grit, determination, and remarkable talent in four “Tracks:” “Hoofin’ in Harlem,” “Jammin’ at Yale,” “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” and “Carnegie Hall Scat.” Scat Cat Monroe tells of the contest seventeen year-old Ella wins at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, an early breakthrough that helped secure her popularity among Harlem audiences who were “eating out of her hand” in the 1930s. Ella then gets noticed by Chick Webb, jazz drummer and band leader, who quickly recognizes her talent and mentors her in the swing style of jazz, an entertainment she and Webb’s orchestra bring to Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom for an extended stay. Later, Ella’s bebop vocals accompany Dizzy Gillespie’s “…ping-pong rhythms that gave bebop its sound.” With Gillespie’s band, she moves into scat singing—“abandoning the lyrics of a song to use nonsense syllables to carry the rhythm”—one of her most famous vocal styles. In the 1940s she joins “Jazz at the Philharmonic,” a traveling troupe of jazz musicians that played to racially integrated audiences, particularly uncommon at that time. The rest, as they say, is history. Ella wins thirteen Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Medal of the Arts.
Why is this a good book? This biography rocks with a writing style that’s hip, musical, and jazzy-poetic, and scratch-board illustrations that keep the story moving with characters that dance, swing, twirl, and soar across electric pages.
Next read: Pair this biography with Ella Fitzgerald singing some of her most famous songs. Try: Ella 100: Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For a Centennial, Verve, 2017.
#Not Your Princess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale (Eds.), Illustrated by Indigenous Artists. Annick Press, 2017. Ages 14 & up.
What’s this book about? With blistering prose, poetry, and illustrations, these Native women lay bare physical, mental, and sexual abuse (“I Don’t Want To Be Afraid,” Imajyn Cardinal [Cree/Dene]), lost and found identity (“Stereotype This,” Melanie Fey [Diné]), social marginalization (“Reclaiming Indigenous Women’s Rights,” Nahanni Fontaine [Anishinaabe]), resilience and survival (“Defender of Mother Earth,” AnnaLee Rain Yellowhammer [Hunkpapa/Standing Rock Sioux]), pride and achievement (“More Than Meets the Eye,” Kelly Edzerza-Bapty [Tahitan] and Claire Anderson [Tlingit]), and political activism (“We Are Not a Costume,” Jessica Deer [Mohawk]). There are also pieces that celebrate the richness and sustainability of Native heritage and honor spiritual, social, and personal advocacy, resistance, and rebellion. Indigenous Native American women of power, endurance, and hope populate these pages. Rejoice!
Why is this a good book? Stop. Look. Listen. Here we have an informative, inspiring, gut-wrenching, and provocative collection by more than thirty writers and artists who explore the experiences of contemporary Indigenous women throughout North America.
The book is the winner of a 2018 American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award and many other honors.
Next read: Pair this collection with Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, Annick Press, 2016. Ages 12 & up.
Imagine by John Lennon, Illustrated by Jean Jullien. Clarion, 2017 Ages 2-7 & all ages
What’s this book about? True to the theme of John Lennon’s famed lyrics, a pigeon bearing olive branches, makes her way though various settings spreading and nurturing respect, harmony, and love among other feathered creatures. Along the way, she offers an olive branch to feathered ones in need of a reminder about inclusiveness, friendship, and kindness.
Why is this a good book? While Jullien’s bold, lively full-color illustrations invite close observation and lots of discussion about cooperation, conflict resolution, and peace. The illustrations bring to life the longing for world-wide tolerance and acceptance Lennon envisioned in his hopeful lyrics and soothing music.
Other good books ask: Can We Make the World a Better Place?
Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story o War and Plea for Peace by Bana Alabed, Simon & Schuster, 2017. YA & up.
What the World Needs Now is Love. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Illustrated by Mary Kate McDevitt., Penguin Workshop, 2017. Ages 4 & up.