Saturday, July 4, 2015

Three Great American Memoirs!

Happy Fourth! With our Read, White, and Blue Insta-linky going strong, I thought I'd do a little blogging about one of my favorite reading genres -- memoirs. From favorite authors to sports heroes, I love a good memoir. One of my all time favorite books is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Her family's struggle with instability and mental illness, show how grit and perseverance can take you so many places if you're willing to go that extra mile. If you've never read it - put it on your Kindle right now!  I remember back to freshman year of High School reading A Child called It and feeling guilty for falling in love with such a sad story. Sophomore year we read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I remember laughing out loud and sobbing through the deaths of all the McCourt babies. Those books have left heart-prints on my reading life. So, how can I get memiors to leave heart-prints on my student lives?  I think of books in my classroom library such as Knots in my Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli or My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen. However, I have three favorite memoirs to share with students. Therefore, I'm linking up with the lovely ladies at the Teaching Trio to share my three favorite memoirs!

Memoirs of a Goldfish and Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian are just plain FUN books! If you're missing out. These books do a great job at poking fun at the genre while showing students that a memoir can be about any moment in your life. Whether it be a slightly dull life as a goldfish or a the repetitive life of a hamster -- there is a story to be told! I love to use these books when introducing the genre of memoir because they are fun and approachable for kids of all ages!

Fourth, fifth, and even sixth grade readers will love Marshfield Dreams: When I was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher. Fletcher writes this memoir in a series of vignettes about growing up in Marshfield, Massachusetts and his family's life changing move to Chicago. This book has a little bit of something for everyone. Fletcher includes humorous chapters about his neighbor knowing the latest "scuttlebutt" before Ralph or his little brother eating various "things" off the sidewalk. He also doesn't shy away from personal tragedies such as the loss of his brother or moving away from his life long friends. This book makes a great paired text which Fletcher's fictional life story, Fig Pudding. I've used this text during my launching Writer's Workshop unit in the past because it creates great discussion for how writer's get ideas. 
I really, really, really wanted my students to be able to read Gifted Hands during our nonfiction unit but I'm not quite sure it's appropriate for my 5th graders. This book is a marvelous story about Ben Carson coming up from the slums of Detroit to become one of the world's most revered surgeons. From feeling like the dumbest kid in 5th grade because he couldn't read the eye chart to moving in with family members while his mom takes a "vacation" from life -- this story is full of obstacles and determination. Lots of theme work can be done with this book! Plus, I couldn't put this book down! {Bonus - there is a movie with Cuba Gooding, JR! WHAT!!} However, due to some of Ben's hardships and the focus on religion in the book - I think younger readers would need some guidance through the text. Therefore, I feel like this book is more suitable for junior high readers that are a little more mature and could more easily relate to Ben's story. 

What's one of your favorite reading genres?


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