Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book #1 -Children's Literature Collection project model

Rylant, C. (1987). Birthday presents. S. Stevenson (Illus.) New York: Orchard Books.


We follow the birthdays of a young child from birth to right before her sixth birthday. The text is predictable - each birthday shares something special the parents did for the child's birthday. As is typical for many birthdays, each year has some kind of an issue - from the child being dreadfully ill to party guests fighting over a play phone that was a gift. At the end of each birthday retelling, the parents end by telling the child they love her. Happy birthday.

The ending of the this book actually comes before the child's sixth birthday, and the child turns the tables on her parents. For each of their birthdays, she does something special for them and tells them she loves them.

Personal response:

Even though this book is over 30 years old, I gravitate toward the simplicity of this story, and the lovely words the parents share with their child each year: "We love you." I know from classroom experience that this book makes a wonderful mentor text in the writing workshop. It has been one of my go-to books year after year when introducing writers' notebooks in writing workshop as a place to gather ideas for future writing. Most children can relate to a memory of a special birthday.

However, as much as I love this book, I now look at it with a more critical eye in this era of needing to present diverse books and diverse characters/settings to children. Not everyone has two parents that have stayed together over a six year period. The characters in this book are all white, which in 1987 was typical to see in children's picture books, but in 2017, family units now look a variety of different ways.

That being said, I would still continue to use this book in the classroom, but I would make sure to share books that represent other types of families, cultures, characters, settings, etc.

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