I printed and laminated enough of the veggies for a whole class, and brought in a plastic pot and spoon for them to drop the veggies in as we sang and I stirred (and they pantomimed) Stir, Stir, Stir the Stew. Singing and moving to If You’re Thankful and You Know It brought out lots of smiles and laughter among the kids (and adults) in the library.
My first graders explored adjectives that described Omu, drew a picture of her, and wrote a sentence using lots of adjectives. With my second graders, they also explored adjectives to describe her stew, and wrote a sentence about it in addition to drawing and writing about Omu.
As I always do when there is one, I shared the author’s note, as well as a few (there are many!) of the awards the author has received because of her beautiful work.
I was first introduced to this book when Matthew Winner interviewed Oge Mora on his Children’s Book Podcast in 2018. This debut picture book was written in homage to Oge’s grandmother’s generous spirit (and her tasty stew). The beautiful illustrations help the reader to see how the scent of Omu’s thick, red stew pulls her neighbors together as a community. Omu’s giving spirit is returned to her in a special way at the end of the story.
“Jumpstart’s Read for the Recordbrings together millions of people each year in classrooms, libraries, community centers, and homes across the US. This annual campaign was launched over a decade ago to highlight the importance of building early literacy and language skills for EVERY child, so that all children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to succeed.”
This year, Jumpstart chose one of my favorite picture books, Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by the amazing Rafael López. The story is fictionalized version of the transformation of the East Village in San Diego into the stunning Urban Art Trail by two exceptional people – Rafael and Candice López – committed to art and social justice.
Maybe Something Beautifulis about a young girl named Mira who lives in a gray and hopeless urban community until a muralist arrives and, along with his paints and brushes, brings color, joy, and togetherness to Mira and her neighbors. This book was a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan picture book nominee last school year, so I had read this book with most of my PreK-Grade 5 classes last year. When I read it to my primary grades this year, many remembered it. I had found a book trailer about the book which shows video from the actual Urban Art Trail which my students enjoyed viewing (link to my lesson plan here). I used the corresponding bird handout (teacher’s guide here), which PreK-grade 1 students colored with crayons and colored pencils. Many were absolutely beautiful and so creative! On the back side was the certificate of participation. With grade 2 students, we taped together 4 poster-sized papers, and each class created a mural, more-or-less in the style of the illustrator. We even learned how to dance the cha-cha-cha! Everyone loved this book!