There are moments in our collective history that we would rather forget happened, but that we must never forget and never allow to happen again. Whether the extermination of Jews in Europe, the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States, the slave trade that took so many people from Africa, or the Indian Residential School program in Canada.
This last item is one that many of us don’t even know existed, but it was a program that attempted to assimilate native children into Euro-Canadian culture for over a century. Indigenous children were taken from their homes, placed into special residential schools, treated poorly, and forbidden to speak their own native language of Cree. In the last twenty years, former students have pressed for recognition and restitution. There are now two books from Second Story Press that deal with this subject, albeit in very different ways. Continue reading →
I’m not posting a ton these days, but that doesn’t mean that we are not reading. I’m just trying to do too many things and running out of time. One series that we happened to stumble upon at the library has definitely topped our list lately. The series is called “The Adventures of Bella and Harry.”
This series is one of many that is not quite fiction and yet not quite non-fiction. The books follow brother and sister Chihuahuas as they travel the globe with their owners. Older sister Bella acts as tour guide for younger brother Harry as they learn about famous landmarks, food and languages of a variety of countries.
The books are “intended to be an informative, interactive and exciting way to introduce children to travel, different countries, customs, history and landmarks.” After reading a number of these with J, I have to say – job well done! J likes to pretend that she is Bella and then I read all of the Harry parts, so she is doing most of the reading. She also was so excited by the books that she brought one into school and had one of her classmates read the Harry parts while she played Bella.
One thing that each book does is take a landmark and then show how it is measured in animals to give kids a more concrete idea of how big it really is. For example, in the book where they visit Paris, the Eiffel tower is 986 feet tall and that is “almost 50 giraffes stacked on top of each other!” For a child who can’t visualize what 986 feet is, using something they understand and can picture makes it easier to comprehend.
Each book also features a snack time where a local food is highlighted. I know with my picky eaters, it is always great to show them that if they want to travel, they are going to have to broaden their horizons on food. But on the flip side, it also shows not to be afraid of food with names they don’t recognize like “jambon baguette” which is just a ham sandwich.
At the end of each book they do a scrapbook of photos of places they covered and some that didn’t make it into the book. Then they close with a page of fun phrases and words from each country.
Another wonderful tool is that their website has tools for teachers on a number of the books which features lesson plans and a teacher’s guide. This helps teacher’s bring these books to life in class and also helps homeschooling families.
We’ve checked out all of the ones from our local library and have purchased 4 additional titles, including the Maui one which doesn’t come out until June. I actually haven’t had a chance to read all of them, but we have gotten a great deal of pleasure out of them. Our favorites at the moment are London, Jerusalem, Venice, Paris and Barcelona. You should definitely check if your local library has them for this is one series that we highly recommend.