Monday, April 15, 2013

Book talk: These Hands by Margaret H. Mason (Virginia Readers' Choice, 2013-2014)

Everyone take a look at your hands for a moment. Your hands are amazing. There are so many things they can do: tie your shoe, write a story, swing from a tree branch. Your hands give you so many opportunities and so much freedom. But what if your hands were not allowed to do things they could naturally do? Can you imagine living that way?

[Turn to the opening pages of the story.] This young boy is Joseph, and this is grandfather who is helping Joseph to tie his shoes.

[Turn to pp. {3-4}] Joseph’s grandfather is so cool: his hands can play the piano, do incredible card tricks, and throw a great curveball in a baseball game. Joseph’s  grandfather’s got some smart, skilled hands.

But you know what’s really sad?

When Joseph’s grandfather was a young man, he worked in a bread factory, and he wasn’t allowed to touch the bread dough. [Show pp. {9-10}]. Because he was African-American, he was only allowed to sweep the floor and load the trucks. His bosses told him that white people wouldn’t want bread touched by his hands. It’s so sad and unfair.

Luckily Joseph does not live in his grandfather’s world, and his hands will be allowed to do much, much more.

These Hands by Margaret H. Mason, ill. Floyd Cooper. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. Unpaged. Virginia Readers Choice, 2013-2014. Booktalk to primary grades. Includes an author’s historical background note.

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