Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Early Bus Trip and Naming Liberty

About a month ago, I blogged about Greetings From the 50 States by Sheila Keenan. I was blogging in honor of my blog partner, Bill's, trip to Boston with a motorcoach bus full of 5th and 6th graders to Boston for 4 days. Now, a month later, my time has come. Tomorrow morning (Thursday), I will be joining Bill on the bus to Boston (I have to be there by 5:45...AM!!!!). I will be leaving behind three nonfiction picture book reviews for your enjoyment (hopefully, you'll be reading them sometime loooong after 5:45!).

In keeping with the patriotic nature of this trip, the first book I'd like to talk about is Naming Liberty by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke. I've been reading a lot on other blogs lately about the book Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappoport, and Naming Liberty seems like a perfect companion book to share with that one.

Naming Liberty is a fabulous book, with multiple entry points:

1) There are two different story lines on each double-page layout. The left side is told by a little girl in first person narrative. She and her family are hoping to immigrate to America from the Ukraine. The right side is about Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the creator and designer of the Statue of Liberty. This side is about the vision of Lady Liberty, and how that vision became a reality.

2) Both parts of the story are written in verse format. What a great model for children with their own nonfiction writing!!!

3) The little girl's story line is all about immigration -- families wanting to come to America for a better life, saving up money over several years to afford the passage, sending some family members before others, some changing of culture and heritage when reaching America (specifically how names got changed), working at menial labor in America, the boat ride to the new country being difficult at times.

4) Being able to compare 2 wonderful texts about the same topic -- Naming Liberty and Lady Liberty. Taking the time to really do some comparing and contrasting of the 2 books will be a great lesson for the writers in your classroom.

5) Jim Burke did some fabulous paintings for this book -- the conversation of how his illustrations enhance Yolen's text would be great!

6) Naming Liberty gave me goosebumps of pride as I realized what an incredible symbol the Statue of Liberty is (and has been) to so many people!

7) At the end of the text, we find out which parts of the story were based on true stories from Yolen's family. I don't know why I love information like this, but I really do!

I loved this book, and can't wait to buy my own copy (I borrowed mine from the library)! It makes me happy to know how many great nonfiction texts there are available now for children. Naming Liberty fits that category -- it makes history accessible and significant for children. Therefore, it becomes a must, must have for my classroom!!!

***In addition to this amazing book, the Yolen / Burke team will be releasing Johnny Appleseed at the end of August (for my review, click here).


  1. Ah, yes...the bus ride, the falls, the fort, the bus ride, fast food, the bus ride, Boston Commons, Mike's Pastries, the bus ride, the Duck Tour, Quincy Market, Harvard, the bus ride, the big orange dinosaur, Bunker Hill, the bus ride, the plantation (pottery is great) and THE BUS RIDE! I will be thinking of you this weekend. Have a GREAT time and bring back some coffee for me (Bill knows).
    Safe travels, my friend!

  2. That's right, 5:45, don't be late! And bring some good snacks, would ya!?

  3. Wait, wait you're forgetting the most important part of the bus ride the BIG Y!! I will miss the memories at Harvard, the elevator at Bunker Hill, my chocolate covered strawberry scheme, the big honken pastry, the many camera drops and especially which exit is Niagra Falls?? Enjoy it I will be there in spirit!!