Historical Facts and Fiction for Fourth Graders

When this fourth grade teacher invited me to her class, I was distracted by the first part of the email where she told me that students don’t use the public library because of the internet. So I didn’t realize until shortly before the presentation what exactly she wanted, which was booktalks and not a presentation on libraries. Since it was a last second switch, I selected books I’d recently read and that sort of connected. The theme was children in the past, which lead into a presentation on slavery. Our county’s reading program has been slave narratives, and I was promoting a program I’d planned.

I book talked three books:

1. Knucklehead, a memoir of growing up in the 1960’s that is laugh out loud funny, and a crowd pleaser. Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka
2. One Crazy Summer, a recent award winner, and the story of three girls in Oakland and the Black Panther movement. The kids were dying to know what was in the kitchen that Delphine’s mother wouldn’t let them see, but I wouldn’t tell them. I’m hoping some one picked the book up to find out. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to find out! One Crazy Summer
3. Elijah of Buxton, an older title, but a surprising favorite. Even the teacher was amazed that four or five of her kids had read this. Several of the kids had already moved onto Bud, Not Buddy. It is always a mixed blessing to recommend books to people they’ve already read and loved, it means I’m on the right track, but that this one will not work. Elijah Of Buxton

The last title was a good transition to my presentation on slavery, as I had brought a picture of the school class at Buxton along with other pictures and documents on slavery. Even the kids who had read the book were interested in the pictures and finding out about the real place the book was based on.

Because the presentation is kind of a downer, especially because many of the children had no idea about slavery, I ended up reading Tadpole’s Promise, which the kids enjoyed. Though a couple told me it wasn’t the happy ending I’d promised them!

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