Friday, May 27, 2011

Class Visit: Fifth Grade, 5/27

For the past couple of months, the 5th grade from the Catholic school next door to my library has been visiting every Friday for book talks, and to check out books. I normally don't mention them on this blog, since I typically don't read to them, but today, since it was their final visit of the school year, and we were discussing the summer theme, I actually read them a story.

I agonized over my choice, since I'm used to reading really short picture books to babies and toddlers. Finally, though, inspiration struck, and I chose a folk tale.

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave retold by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by K.Y. Craft, is a tale from Russia about a beautiful young girl with a Cinderella-like life - ugly stepsisters, cruel stepmother, lots of chores. She's got something Cinderella never had, though - a tiny doll made by her mother, who is fully alive, and filled with positive, encouraging words. When she is sent by her stepmother to retrieve a light from the human-eating forest-dwelling witch Baba Yaga, it is her mother's love, channeled through the doll, that keeps her alive and brings her to an unexpectedly joyful life.

I figured anything creepy was perfect for fifth grade, and I was so right. Some of the kids had heard of Baba Yaga and already knew she was scary, and the illustrations in this book really showed off her terrifying features quite well. The kids kept getting out of their seats to spot the bones and skulls that make up Baba Yaga's house, and we all agreed that little doll would be an excellent helper around the house.
This class has been a real joy to work with, and the teacher is already planning ways for me to work with her class next year as well. I can't wait!

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