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A Teachable Moment with Little House in the Big Woods

A Teachable Moment with Little House in the Big Woods

If you are a child of the 1970s and ’80s like I am, then you grew up with the revered Little House books (and TV series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As times have progressed and changed we’ve looked back at these stories with a new perspective in regards to racial issues. In 2018, the American Library Association changed the name of their top award from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award in response to the change in perspective and inclusiveness in today’s society.

Many people believe that there is no place for the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder in our society. While many other people believe the whole thing is overblown and nothing is wrong with the books. I don’t really fall into either of the categories. I absolutely see the points being made that Wilder’s depictions of African Americans, and especially Native Americans, are derogatory through our 21st-century eyes. I feel though, that there is merit in her work and this topic gives a teacher a vital opportunity to use as a teachable moment. We can’t ignore history and pretend it never happened. We need to shed the light on the mistreatments and inaccuracies for what they are and learn from those mistakes so as not to repeat them.

One of the best blog posts I have read on this subject is by Laura McLemore in her post found here. It puts into historical perspective the times that Wilder was living in during the story and keeping in mind these books were authored in the 1930s written through the eyes of an impressionable child who didn’t really have all the knowledge to address the fears she had. A very different time for our country and culture. We know many of the views and actions perpetrated during this time were outright wrong and based on false knowledge. If you look through Wilder’s eyes with these points in mind you can gain a perspective of WHY she may have written and believed the things she did without having to agree with it. You can identify the wrong points in her writing and actions and use the hurtful content to help students understand why this is wrong and how these beliefs continued to hurt as time passed. Kids need to learn these things and they need to know why it was wrong in order for the future to be a better place.

Because of these beliefs that the Laura Ingalls Wilder books can be used as a tool for greater understanding, a teachable moment, I still feel they have a valuable place in the classroom. Her descriptions of pioneer living are invaluable for children to gain an insight into what it was like living during the late 1800s and what hardships the pioneers faced as they moved west. However, if you do choose to use these books I really do feel strongly that it is imperative that you give kids the proper historical perspectives and facts. Help them understand the true, and sometimes very awful, part of the history of the western expansion of the United States.

 

 

 

The Laura Ingalls Wilder series begins with Little House in the Big Woods. It is the story of a young Laura and her family living in Wisconsin before heading farther West into the prairies of the Midwest.

From the Book Jacket:

Based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the award-winning Little House series, which has captivated generations of readers. This edition features the classic black-and-white artwork from Garth Williams.

Little House in the Big Woods takes place in 1871 and introduces us to four-year-old Laura, who lives in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. She shares the cabin with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their lovable dog, Jack.

Pioneer life isn’t easy for the Ingalls family since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But they make the best of every tough situation. They celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do their spring planting, bring in the harvest in the fall, and make their first trip into town. And every night, safe and warm in their little house, the sound of Pa’s fiddle lulls Laura and her sisters into sleep.

The nine books in the timeless Little House series tell the story of Laura’s real childhood as an American pioneer and are cherished by readers of all generations. They offer a unique glimpse into life on the American frontier and tell the heartwarming, unforgettable story of a loving family.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Little House in the Big Woods for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

log cabin in the woods

Your students can continue on with Wilder’s Little House series that goes through her life from Wisconsin to the prairies of the Midwest to growing up and marrying. They really do give students an insight into what life during the Homestead times was like. Just make sure you do the work of giving your students all the facts and information so that they can view this series in the proper perspective with the proper knowledge of our inclusive times.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Introduce Novels with Jigsaw Jones

Introduce Novels with Jigsaw Jones

James Preller’s, Jigsaw Jones series is a great introduction to chapter books for the younger grades. The books have friendship, humor, relatable topics, and contain non-scary mystery and suspense to keep the reader wanting more. They are great books to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

Jigsaw Jones and the Case of the Stolen Baseball Cards is a great introduction to chapter books and the Jigsaw Jones’ series. It takes the reader on many twists and turns to the discovery of the surprising thief.

From the Book Jacket:

Yeesh! Eddie brought his baseball cards to school and now they are missing. It’s time for Jigsaw to step up to the plate. He’s no rookie detective! Solving this case is sure to send Jigsaw and Mila straight to the Detectives’ Hall of Fame.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Jigsaw Jones and the Case of the Stolen Baseball Cards for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

baseball and bat laying in grass

The Jigsaw Jones series has over 30 books to choose from. The Case of the Stolen Baseball Cards is a great hook to get your kids started down the road of addiction to chapter book reading.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Finding Your Way in the World as the Janitor’s Boy

Finding Your Way in the World as the Janitor’s Boy

The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements takes the normal tween feelings of being embarrassed by their parents to an extended level. It is a great book to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

All kids are embarrassed by their parents at one time or another and all kids have to deal with various kinds of peer pressure as they try to find where they belong in the world. These normal feelings are multiplied for Jack in our elitist society. Jack has to deal with the guilt of being embarrassed that his father is the school janitor. The journey to a more mature view and acceptance leads Jack to places he never expected to go.

From the Book Jacket:

Unfortunately, it also led to the perfect punishment. When Jack Rankin gets busted for defacing a school desk with a huge wad of disgusting, watermelon bubble gum, the principal sentences him to three weeks of after-school gum cleanup for the chief custodian. The problem is, Jack’s anger at the chief custodian was the reason for his gum project in the first place. The chief custodian happens to be Jack’s dad.
But doing time in the school basement after hours reveals some pretty surprising things: about the school, about Jack’s father, and about Jack himself.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany The Janitor’s Boy for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

Mop and bucket

This is a great book for kids who have dealt with feeling inferior to their peers (who hasn’t!) and for kids that have acted out in inappropriate ways trying to deal with their feelings. Many kids will relate to Jack’s inner struggles of acceptance of himself and his father and they will appreciate, as Jack does, that learning about their parent as a person outside of their kids reveals more than they ever imagined.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

What if you had a second chance to be a better person?

What if you had a second chance to be a better person?

What if you had a second chance to be a better person? That is the singular question in Gordon Korman’s novel, Restart. Chase Ambrose was a classic bully. A bully of the worst kind who terrorized fellow classmates and adults alike and who always seemed to get away with it, until…

Restart is a great novel to use in your classroom to address bullying issues and really help students think about how their actions affect others and ultimately themselves.

Restart was published in 2017 so it is a fresh and modern book that students can easily relate to.

From the book jacket:

Chase’s memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl, in particular, is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.

I offer a full novel study for Restart that you can use with a whole class, small book groups, or individual students. It is easily adaptable and contains both a printable option and a Google Drive™ option.

Person falling off roof

Restart is a great book that really helps kids think about how their actions affect others and how this affects their reputation for the long haul. It’s a good resource to use for bullying prevention activities that isn’t preachy and will help students see their own character and help them want to “restart” themselves down the right and kind path.


Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Explore the Depths of Childhood Grief with On My Honor

Explore the Depths of Childhood Grief with On My Honor

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is a poignant tale of how a young teen deals with the guilt and grief over the death of his friend. This Newbery Medal-winning book is great to use in your classroom or homeschool for a whole class novel study, small book groups, or individual book studies.

You can read author Marion Dane Bauer’s description of how she came up with this story based on real-life events from her childhood here to gain insight on the “behind the scenes” of the story.

Hopefully, your students won’t have any first or secondhand experience in dealing with a tragedy such as this. It can strike at any time. My teen daughter has had to deal with this during this past summer after the death of four of her close friends in a car accident. She doesn’t deal with guilt regarding the accident but has had to struggle with the why. How did a carefree summer night just like so many others change everything in an instant? How quickly it forces young people to face mortality and mature overnight.

On My Honor does a good job of portraying this experience in main character Joel.

From the Book Jacket:

Joel’s best friend, Tony, is a daredevil. It was Tony’s idea to make the long bike ride to the Starved Rock state park, and Tony’s idea to stop for a swim in the dangerous Vermillion River. So why does Joel feel so much guilt when tragedy strikes?

I offer a complete novel study to accompany On My Honor for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

rapids and a stream

Literature has such a power to help us deal with events in our life that we can’t understand. It helps us realize that in our feelings we are not alone. This is a wonderful book to help students understand survivor’s guilt, how things can change in an instant, and how to deal with grief over someone we’ve loved and lost.



Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank


*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.