Tag Archives: holidays

Books to Celebrate and Teach about Adoption

National Adoption Day this November 22 and National Adoption Month this November afford a time to share experiences and reflect on families. Whether you have students who have been adopted or are part of a family considering adopting a child into your home, all children can benefit from learning about adoption. Children are very curious about each other’s families, quick to categorize into groups, and intent to define what makes a family, well, a family. Continue reading

Book and Activity Suggestions to Match Your Summer Adventure: Beaches!

Each week this summer, we are pairing Lee & Low titles to your favorite summer destinations with fun activities!

Our motto this summer: Love Books + Keep Cool + Learn Something New

Your summer outing: the BEACH

Book recommendations:

Surfer of the Century cover
Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

Questions during reading:

  • What is this person’s relationship to the ocean? How does this person’s relationship to the ocean change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • How does this person show appreciation for the ocean?
  • How is the ocean/beach a part of this person’s identity?
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What does Cinco de Mayo celebrate?

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for May Fifth) is a day celebrated in the United States and Mexico to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Army during the Battle of Puebla. In Puebla, Mexico, it is referred to as “El día de la batalla de Puebla” (The Day of the Battle of Puebla). This day was started by Mexican Americans in the days of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate democracy and freedom.

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Resources For Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds Of Change

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Seeds of Change cover
Seeds Of Change

In honor of Wangari Maathai’s birthday on Tuesday, April 1 and upcoming Earth Day later this month, we at Lee & Low Books want to share all the fantastic resources and ideas that are available to educators who are teaching about Wangari Maathai’s legacy and using Seeds Of Change: Planting a Path to Peace.

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Where Do Boys Belong In Women’s History Month?

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Irena's Jars Of Secrets
Irena’s Jars Of Secrets

I entered the education field to broaden the minds of a new generation and teach the truths that I felt I had missed or was denied in my own education. Indeed, I was not alone in those motivations. According to the Primary Sources project by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of the more than 20,000 public school classroom teachers polled, 85% of teachers say they chose the profession in order to make a difference in children’s lives.

Despite my righteous ambitions, once in the classroom, I was hesitant to broach the conversation about gender with a mixed class of boys and girls. So many of my own college classes that focused on social justice and equality issues were almost entirely women.

Acutely aware of my students’ fragile perception of themselves, I was intimidated by the prospect of guiding the discussion. When I was leading a classroom of my own, it was often easier to concentrate on the benign world of synonyms, dictionary skills, main idea, and genre features than push my students to think about what role gender plays in achievement, history, and identity.

I wondered: How do we teach about women’s history and contributions without alienating boys? Will boys disengage if a girl or woman is on the cover or is the main character? In this day and age, do girls still need explicit attention drawn to high-achievers that share their gender?

Leading up to my first month of March as a teacher, I thought I would “just” read more books with women as the central figures during Women’s History Month, but not explicitly point out that these were all women so as not to freak out boys and hope the girls would pick up on my subliminal messages of empowerment….

Face palm

Insert face palm here.

This thinking was a huge disservice to ALL of my students’ educations. As I introduced books with prominent women historic figures or girl characters, I realized if the books were about gender, we would discuss identity and tolerance. Other times if the story just happened to have a girl character, but gender wasn’t a central feature of the story, my scholars just wanted to focus on the great story and how the universal lessons applied to their lives.

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Books for Holidays: MLK Day, Chinese New Year, and More

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

We’re in the process of updating our lists of recommended books for special holidays! Our diverse books cover a wide range of holidays, celebrations, and important moments in history. Whether you are looking to rejuvenate your holiday read alouds in the classroom or purchase a gift to remember a special moment, you’ll find the perfect title on our list. Here’s what we’re celebrating – and reading – in January:

JANUARY 20
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
The Bus Ride

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What does Passover celebrate?

Tonight marks the first night of Passover, so I thought I’d share a bit about what the holiday celebrates and what it means to me. Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year, and is probably the most observed Jewish holiday after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (despite what people think about Hanukah!). Etched in Clay

Passover commemorates the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, as told in the old testament (or, if you’re the kind of person who waits for the movie to come out, as told in The Ten Commandments). According to the story, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, until God, with the help of Moses, led them out of Egypt and into freedom.

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What is Chinese New Year?

This Sunday is Chinese New Year and that means firecrackers, food, and family! You can greet someone by saying Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gung hay fat choy (Cantonese), which means “wishing you prosperity in the coming year.”

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From Sam and the Lucky Money

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar (the moon’s orbit around the Earth), therefore the actual day varies year to year. Many families will prepare for the new year by cleaning the house, shopping for new clothes, buying food to prepare new year meals, and stocking up on red envelopes to put lucky money in. Once the new year arrives, celebratory events continue for the next 15 days, including parades, feasting, red lanterns, and red paper cutouts and calligraphy.

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Cultural Travels in Cambodia and Vietnam

Jason Low in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Yours truly on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia

This past summer I took a trip to the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Trips that take in a different culture firsthand are a great way to broaden one’s perspective as a citizen of the world. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I hope these photos give you a glimpse of what my trip was like.

Angkor Wat
My boys standing in the Angkor Wat temple

Our first stop was Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were there to see the temples built in the early 12th century. The temples were truly magnificent.

Angkor Thom
shots of Angkor Thom temple

Years ago, I visited several great cathedrals in Europe, but the Cambodian temples were different. I know these were holy places, but their scope and size exuded a feeling of tranquility and reverence that I have rarely felt before.

Traffic in Vietnam
traffic in Ho Chi Minh City

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What do Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur Celebrate?

Over the summer, our former intern Mitul shared her take on what Ramadan celebrates. Continuing in that tradition, since I’m Jewish I thought I’d share a bit about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. If you’re not Jewish, you may have seen these holidays on the calendar – or, if you’re lucky, even gotten off from school for them. But what are they really about?

Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year (in Hebrew, it literally means “Head of the Year”) and celebrates the beginning of Apples and honeythe new Hebrew year. Because the Jewish calendar is based on the moon, the actual date of Rosh Hashana varies from year to year, but it always falls somewhere in the fall. For Jews, Rosh Hashana is a holy day, but a happy one: although it’s solemn and most people celebrate it by spending time in synagogue praying, it is a holiday focused on hope for a sweet new year. Because of that, the traditional food associated with Rosh Hashana is apples dipped in honey.

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