"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, April 28, 2017

ReedALOUD: OUT OF WONDER and the Fifth Grade Explorers

It was #booklove at first site.  

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, written by Kwame Alexander with Marjory Wentworth and Chris Colderley and illustrated by Ekua Holmes is one of those books that should be in every elementary, middle, and high school library. Its appeal and impact are far-reaching. If the cover is not enough to grab your attention, the design, art and poems surely will. The mixed-media art and original poems weave a canvas that captures the essence of the celebrated poets in ways that are astounding. 

This book is not just a stand alone package, I see multiple ways to connect it with Common Core Curriculum standards as well as with other books and other literacy initiatives. The natural connection lies with any poetry unit or poetry month, but I see a connection with Gene Luen Yang's Reading Without Walls Challenge. As National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, he is encouraging children to: read books about people that don't live like them or look like them; read books in a different genre; and/or, read books about things they don't know. By sharing the poems in Out of Wonder, students are introduced to poetry in a way that engages them and makes them think. They are also introduced to poets whose work they might not know and poets whose lives vary considerably.

In part one, the book focuses on poets whose style was a defining characteristic of their work. I chose to focus on the celebratory poem about Langston Hughes and use this as an opportunity to read from two neighborhoods of our library.
We started by reading Langston's Train Ride by Robert Burleigh:

We stopped before the poem and switched to this recording of The Negro Speaks of Rivers:

And reread the poem in this book:

We then listened to I, Too, sing America:

And reread the poem with this book:

And finished with this book:

With this context and exposure to Langston's Poetry, it was time to turn to Out of Wonder and read Jazz, Jive, Jam by Kwame Alexander. 
And appreciated Ekua's amazing art.
We talked about the poem - its themes and style --  and how Kwame celebrated Langston's work. It was cool stuff.

Who's Got Style? 
Langston's got style and 
Kwame and Ekua have style!

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