I was all fired up to write a great post on adult and children’s non fiction books. We traveled some 280 miles today with rolling corn fields being harvest, sun shinning and wind blowing. I planned and plotted my thoughts all along the highway. I was ready to write. Now at the end of the day as I sit in my hotel room my thoughts are lost among the fallen corn stalks. I will try to give you a window into my earlier thinking.
What I read was Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This is a great non fiction story about 9 young men, rowing, poverty, the Great Depression and the Olympics in Germany in 1936 -think Hitler and the beginning of the war. A great read but what I find interesting is that many of these non fiction adult books can now be found in a Young Readers Adaptation as well. The adaptation is missing some of the description and the extreme details but still holds true to the story of these men and the community and bond they build through rowing and hard times.
Another one is Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive
by Laura Hillenbrand. I have not read either the adult or young readers addition of this one but will check those out next.
What I love is the fact that these books bring history alive through the lives of people who lived through these events. We learn about the whole through the small day to day details the common persons life. I get excited about teaching history through literature. The idea of engaging students in this type of narrative and then stepping back and filling in for them the whole historical event.
Boys in the Boat is a great example of that type of learning. You are engaged in the life of Joe Rantz and through his eyes you see the Great Depression, you learn enough of Hitler to ask more questions, to want more answers. It is a great set up for a deeper dive into World War II. I like the idea of the two levels of the same text.
I am thinking it would also make a great parents and child read. Each engaged in a book with a shared story.
I also read:
- Enchanted Air -Enchanted Air is for middle school and up with discussion of two cultures and the cold war with the Cuban crisis. A memoir in poems. Really well done.
- Circus Mirandus – Circus Mirandus is middle school and down with magic, trust and a lot of love.
Depending on the grade you are teaching I would recommend you look at both. Great books to bring into the classroom.