Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Matchbox Diary Already a Hit With Teachers

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman made the picture book list of ALSC Notable Nominee list that I've been reading this summer and based on what I'm seeing from my Bailey colleagues, it has mad their list of most wanted for the 2013 - 14 school year.  Many have already purchased their own copies, but rest assured friends, there will be a copy available in the library when school starts.

When a little girl visits her great grandfather for the first time she is introduced to his matchbox diary.  As a little boy in Italy he was unable to read or write, but wanted to keep a diary.  He began collecting matchboxes and putting items that sparked memories, an olive pit, a piece of pasta, a picture of his father.  One by one as the boxes are opened, the little girl is introduced to her family's history and immigration story.  The pictures by Bagram Ibatoulline reinforce the story by showing each item or memory.  A wonderful, heartwarming story to be sure, but knowing my Bailey friends and the awesome teachers they are, I'm sure they have already come up with ideas on how to use this book to spark the creative writing process in their students.

As I read the story, the ideas for writing and creating seemed endless. 

It might be tough to find so many matchboxes, but a photo collection could be made instead of their school year, similar to what Mary Lee at A Year of Reading does each month.

Bring back show and tell and have the students bring in artifacts from their life, first write then talk about the items.

An oldie but a goodie, have the students interview the oldest person in their families to learn the family history.  I sort of feel like this one might be the most important to keep our kids in touch with their past.

The list goes on, and I'm sure when I get back to school I'll see many examples of how this book is used in all grades.

Add this to my Caldecott watch list.


  1. Sounds like one I need to go buy tomorrow! Can't wait to see it!

  2. Me too! Can't wait to see it!

    You could use envelopes to collect things. I also love the idea of doing a class project--a large collage with artifacts that have been collected over the year and compiled as the year progresses. Does anyone remember that movie "Man of the House"? (Farah Fawcett and Chevy Chase) In it, Farah was creating a wall-sized life-collage. Something like that.

  3. It sounds wonderful! I'll check it out.