While great reviews from Publishers Weekly or Kirkus are nice, there’s nothing better than feedback from the source – actual young readers!
A third grade writing class from Newark, New Jersey was assigned to compare/contrast themselves with DeShawn from DeShawn Days by Tony Medina and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. They agreed to share parts of their answers with us!
Rogenia: “DeShawn and I are the same because we both think the news is scary. We don’t like to hear about people dying from wars. We also love rapping! It’s so much fun! It would be cool if we could rap together.”
Malikah: “DeShawn and I are different. He loves his block because he has friends. I hate living in the hood because there’s too much shooting and too much fighting. DeShawn hates the news because it’s scary. I love the news because it teaches you about the world.”
Troy: “If DeShawn was real, I think we would be friends. He seems like he’d be a very nice friend. We could teach each other things and talk about what we have in common. Plus it’s always fun to meet new people! I think DeShawn Days is the best book I ever read!”
Kevin: “I have a connection with DeShawn. When my uncle died I cried and cried just like DeShawn did when his grandma passed away. It was heartbreaking to see him in the casket. I will never forget the day my uncle died. I’m sure DeShawn will never forget when his grandma passed either. If we were friends, maybe we could talk about what we felt.”
Keidy: “Me and DeShawn are the same because our mother lives in the same house as us. We are both 10 years old. We both don’t just hear music, we hear sirens in our neighborhoods too. . . . I wouldn’t like to just be his friend, I’d like to be his sister!”
Nasir: “In many ways DeShawn and I are very similar. For example, we both have a large family (by the way mine is bigger). If I knew DeShawn in real life we would definitely be friends.”
Quadir: “DeShawn and I. . . . both watch cartoons. We don’t like the news. My mom lives in the house with me just like his does. I always invite my friends over. We are both ten years old. I would absolutely want to be DeShawn’s friend if he was a real person. . . . I wish I could meet someone just like him!”
Tierrah: “DeShawn and I are different because he likes his block and I don’t like mine. I don’t like it because there’s too much drugs, people getting shot, and crying (just like on the news). A connection I have with DeShawn is that my grandma passed away too. She passed away this past Saturday morning. DeShawn was sad for a long time. I’m sure I will be too.”
Justin: “DeShawn and I are the same because we both watch cartoons. We love our families. I have friends at school just like he does. We hate graffiti because it ruins the walls. I love rap like he does as well. I love to hear people rhyme. I like my block just like he does. There’s no fighting where I live.”
What character from a book do you wish you could be friends with in real life? Post your responses below! We’d love to hear from you!
2 thoughts on “Third Graders Respond to DeShawn Days”
Powerful to read these responses and see the text-to-self connections children make when reading culturally relevant literature. Thanks to Lee Low for supporting Tony Medina, R. Gregory Christie, and so many other great artists who are writing books that reflect, respect, and value our kids’ experiences.
Those are such great comments – love to hear that 10 years after publication, Deshawn is still winning hearts! My (white, librarian’s kid) daughter, who was 7 in 2001, connected with him right away – the appeal of that book is universal.
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