If you’ve never used read aloud picture books with your middle schoolers, you should consider it. Not only do picture books get a point across, but they’re fun, images are beautiful and they don’t take much time.. You can easily come up with ideas to reinforce what you’ve read.
This month, I’m joining my “We Teach So Hard” BFF to share read aloud books about persevering. One of the books I’d like to share with you is called Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges
Ruby was a young Chinese girl who loved the color red, as much as she loved learning. Unfortunately, back then, few girls were taught to read or write, so when her grandfather gave all the grandchildren, both boys and girls, living in his house, the chance to be tutored, she happily and eagerly studied very hard. Before long, the girls stopped their studies because it was more important for them to learn to cook, clean and complete household responsibilities. Ruby continued her education, exceeded everyone’s expectations, learned her household skills and never complained. Her grandfather was very proud of her success.
As part of a school assignment, Ruby was required to write a poem. Her teacher was so pleased with it that he showed her grandfather, but became saddened and confused because he saw how unhappy she was with a girl’s fate. Her wish was to attend the university—an option only open to her boy cousins, but not to girls in China.
Shirin Yin Bridges based this inspirational story on the life of her grandmother, who, like Ruby, was accepted as one of the first female students at a Chinese University because she wouldn’t take no for an answer and never gave up her dreams. Listen to the book on youtube here
Here’s a free lesson plan just for you.
- I would begin by presenting one of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Use this quote before reading the book, because it will get them thinking and pave the way for a great discussion.
- Write the word persevering and use the context clues from MLK’s quote to help them come up with a definition.
- Read the book
- Point out and talk about the differences between what was expected of girls and boys. You can mention that back then, girls were expected to cook, take care of a husband and children, do housework, etc. and that reading, writing and a good education were not that important for them. Boys on the other hand were expected to become educated, and were treated completely differently than girls.
- Discuss how Ruby persevered and refused to give up her dream. Ask why it’s important to keep trying, and not to quit when the going gets rough.
- Have the class write about a time that they didn’t give up, and either share in our collaborative groups or as a class. Teacher should share too.
- Since Ruby wrote a poem that helped her grandfather realize what she truly wanted for her future, have your class write haiku poems about never giving up and how persevering will help them have a successful and happier life. They can then draw pictures to go along with it.
- As an alternative assignment have the kids make up a quote or two and draw illustrations.
Another great little picture book is called The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. It’s about a little girl who wants to make something magnificent, with the help of an assistant, her dog. Through trial and error, and some frustration and anger, she perseveres, succeeds and invents something unexpected. I love the adorable and engaging black/white and colorful illustrations.You can listen to the book on youtube here
- Do a STEM challenge and have your class create their own magnificent thing from objects they’ve found, just like the little girl in the book.
- Have the following items on hand: recycled paper towel or toilet paper rolls, cardboard, string/yarn, plastic containers, pieces of wood, rocks, pebbles, milk cartons, cans, broken toys, tape, scissors, wire, etc. They can also bring in their own things, the sky’s the limit.
- The goal is to help them realize that they can do anything they want as long as they don’t let obstacles get in the way.
- Discuss what would happen if they gave up, ask how they’d feel as opposed to how they’d feel when they finished their invention and succeeded.
To hear about more great books, listen to our podcast “We Teach So Hard” Click the image.
Hop on over to Kathie, Tracy and Retta’s blog posts for tips and ideas to use with your class. Just click the links.
Teaching Perseverance: Powerful Books to Change a Student’s Mindset
Using the Arts to Teach Perseverance
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“Ruby’s Wish” sounds like it would be an excellent addition to a “Women’s History Month” unit. Love your ideas.
Kathie Yonemura says
I LOVE Ruby’s wish! The author’s grandmother is so inspiring! I love that the book is based on a real person!
Lisa Robles says
I always read The Most Magnificent Thing to kids. They always want to visit the Maker Space afterwards to make their own Magnificent thing!!
Charlene Tess says
This was such a great post and a mini-lesson as well. Thank you.
Retta London says
Thank you for introducing me to Ruby’s Wish! What a beautiful and inspirational story? And the STEM challenge to follow up The Most Magnificent Thing? Brilliant! Loved your post!
I love this. My classes need this lesson just about now. Thank you.
What great read alouds! Thank you for sharing these with us!