It also offers an authentic mirror for the experiences of transgender young readers. Ever since her father left them with just three rolls of quarters and a mayonnaise jar full of crumpled dollar bills, the family has been living in her mother’s car.
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Any time is a great time to introduce themes of tolerance, generosity, and friendship to your students. When Miguel finds out that his Tia Lola is coming to visit from the Dominican Republic where his parents were born, he’s not thrilled. This thoughtful book gives a glimpse into the mind of a child who is immigrating to a new country and emphasizes the small things that every person loves about their home. On the inside, Melissa is a typical girl, but when people look at her they think they see a boy.
In this column, I focus on chapter books that feature diverse characters and timely social concepts. Tia Lola is larger than life and the kids make enough fun of him as it is, mispronouncing his name and asking if his brown skin fades like a tan. Reading about Aref’s country and the journey that he’s facing provides a perspective as children think about newcomers to our country. At school and even at home, Melissa goes by the name she was given at birth, George.
It also works wonderfully as a classroom read-aloud. To delve further into the issue of homelessness and how it affects people, take a look at Learning to Give’s lesson plan, A Day in the Life of a Homeless Person.
The Committee on Temporary Shelter in Vermont provides an interdisciplinary activity guide for teaching about homelessness for grades K-12: Unsheltered Lives.
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