Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TUESDAY: Books by Claudia Mills

My first contact with Claudia Mills was the book Being Teddy Roosevelt. I did a report on Teddy with my students last year when I taught history and I thought this would be a great book to tie in to that study. Unfortunately, it wasn't all I hoped it would be. The main character, Riley, is doing a biography on Teddy Roosevelt for school. At the same time, he is wrestling with his desire to play saxophone at school and his family's lack of money to buy one. In the end, the biographies the students complete do make some changes in their own personalities and Riley applies what he is learning to his saxophone dilemma, but the ending didn't have the "punch" I was hoping for.

Then I tried 7x9=Trouble. I enjoyed this one so much that I read it to my son. Wilson is facing a situation that plagues third graders around the country - times tests. Wilson has to pass times tests in a certain amount of time, but multiplication is not coming easily to him. Even worse, his brother - who is in kindergarten - seems to be understanding it better than Wilson is! What I liked most about this story is the truth of it. Some kids excel at math while others are good at art or music or spelling. Wilson has to work very hard on his multiplication - there aren't any fancy tricks to remember the 4s or the 8s or the 12s. And his whole family pitches in to help him out. While my son is young and school comes fairly easily to him, I want him to know that it won't always be that way. There will be times where only hard work and time will help him achieve something. Stories like 7x9=Trouble are a great encouragement for kids to recognize where their gifts lie and where hard work can help them meet their goals.

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