Today, I am sharing our literature selections for Grade 4 that make up our Multicultural Book Studies for the 2018-2019 school year. To start, most of our novel choices pair with our history and geography. We are studying the East, focusing on Australia/Pacific, Asia, and Africa (and the European nations that we “meet” in those lands.) Likewise, many of our novels are set in countries on these continents; but we do have some classics and a general African-American interest book too. Read about the 10 novels we have selected, a brief synopsis, and the reading/literary skills we’re learning alongside.
Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry ~ Polynesia/Pacific
We’re starting with a light read (five chapters) to learn more about life in the Pacific with Mafatu and his sidekick dog, Uri.
Beginning in Fourth Grade, I start teaching a very simple annotation method and I also introduce a vocabulary method that I prefer that learn and practice Grades 4-6. It is is easier to teach high-order skills with books that are not too challenging to read, and that’s why I chose this title with these skills. (Both my Fourth and Seventh Graders are reading this title together.)
The Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Bell Mathis ~ AA Interest
This is one of my favorite stories! I have read this story with my oldest son when he was in Grade 4 and we loved it together; I am hoping for the same this time ’round. Michael is a sweet boy who enjoys spending quality time with his great-great aunt Dew. She has a penny box where each penny represents a year of her life. She has a story for each one! I personally like to discuss how valuable time is with our elders and the inevitable transitions that we’ll all make, but particularly elders with this book.
I selected a few comprehension questions, a text-to-self activity, and a writing reflection for my son to complete.
Chopsticks from America by Elaine Nagano ~ Japan
This story follows Tiffany and Kevin, a pair of Japanese American siblings, move back to Japan. Their father’s job pushes the move and at first the children are very excited. Once they arrive, Japan does not quite meet their expectations. However, they learn to accept what is different and understand that’s part of growing up.
I planned a poetry unit for my son while we read Chopsticks from America. I will mainly teach haikus as it is Japanese poetry; but I am going to add a few limericks and acrostics in there for contrast. For each poem, he will learn the style and form and write his own.
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord ~ China
Just the opposite from Chopstick from America, In the Year of the Boar opens with Shirley Temple Wong moving from her homeland in China to America. Of course, she has a difficult time with the language and cultural barriers. When school ends and she’s on summer break Shirley discovers America’s favorite past-time, baseball. Suddenly, Shirley begins playing while following the career of Jackie Robinson. Through his life and story, Shirley comes to realize that America is a land of opportunity.
I purchased a traditional novel guide for this title. We will study plot, cause/effect, fact/fiction and cultural differences.
Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins ~ India
Neel and his sister Rupa adventure to find a tiger cub that has escaped from the nature reserve near their village. They become so invested in the hunt that it begins to interfere with their acceptance exams for a scholarship to a boarding school. Neel would rather look for the tiger cub than take an exam anyway. Once he encounters the cub, he begins to learn so much about life, taking risks, and sacrifice. Will Neel pass his exam and go off to school or will he remain in his village with the newfound cub?
We will increase the skill of writing summaries and study setting with this book. My son will also make his own cereal box report, write a commercial and shoot it.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame ~ Classic Adventure
The story begins with Mole and his lackadaisical toward his spring cleaning. He heads out to enjoy the spring air and meets Rat on the river and they become good friends. Together, they end up Toad Hall and the three of them quickly becomes friends. Later, the threesome meets Badger and now we have Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger as one pack of friends with various adventures in their lazy, country town. It’s a fun, adventurous stories that most children tend to fall for. I enjoyed reading this book with my oldest son, so we’re back for round two!
For this title, my son is building his own lapbook by Confessions of a Homeschooler with chapter activities for each template. I am also going to teach protagonist and antagonist and he will write a book report and complete and book-to-movie comparison.
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sidney Taylor ~ Israel/NYC
I have taught this book several times to various students over the year and it’s always hit. Something about these girls creates a nice recipe for a good story. Meet Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie–five Jewish sisters who live with their parents in New York City at the beginning of the 20th Century. Sometimes the girls are with mama in the parlor and sometimes they are papa in his shop. They truly enjoy spending time with each other, especially for holidays and surprises. But, there is one big surprise that neither of the girls were expecting!
The book is packed with Jewish customs and themes to explore in the early 1900s. While we’re studying Israel, my son will be reading this book. Because he is younger, he is focusing more on culture and customs that conflicts and controversial issues, in contrast to my oldest son’s Israel-set title. I purchased a nontraditional novel pack for him and we’ll be learning some figurative language, completing some critical thinking exercises, historical activities, and comparing and contrasting cultural and era differences.
When I Left My Village by Maxine Rose Schur ~ Ethiopia
For Menelik and his family, Israel seems like a very distant land. A new government comes into a power and threatens their lifestyle and livelihood. Village are burned down, people are kidnapped, and many Ethiopian Jews are kidnapped and sold a slaves. When famine comes, there is no choice left but to leave their village and make dangerous journey that hopefully takes them to Israel, fulfilling Biblical prophecy according to their custom. This story retells some important Ethiopian (and Biblical) History. The overthrow of Haile Selassie in the 1970s by the military caused an uproar in Ethiopia. The government that came into power in 1978 was particularly harsh on the Beta Israel. From Operation Moses to Operation Solomon, Schur does a great job portraying Beta Israel and their clinging to their 2,000-year old heritage.
We’re learning how to write hooks to host a book talk and give a presentation with the book. We’re spend a few weeks in Ethiopia specifically so will lots of history to draw from to augment his story and give his presentation.
Journey to Jo’Burg by Beverly Naidoo ~ South Africa
Naledi and her brother Tiro live in a South African village very far from the city of Johannesburg where their mother, Mma, lives. One day their younger sister falls ill and they know that only one person can truly heal her. So, they journey to Johannesburg to find their mother. Along the way, they come to understand the dangers of their country and the struggle for freedom.
I revised a basic reading comprehension guide for this book and he is going to use the annotation and vocabulary methods that he learned with the first book here as well.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White ~ Classic Literature
Who doesn’t know about Charlotte’s Web? So, I’ll spare you a recap. My son will be designing a flipbook with this novel and watching the movie to write a simple movie review. He will shoot his movie review to work on his presentation skills and on-screen look.