Back in the groove…

Let’s just say summer didn’t go as planned.  It was still good – I think – but all that work I’d be able to get done because Daddy would be home?  None of it happened.  I’m beginning to think I will just never, ever be caught up.

Since most of the schools in this part of the world are back in session, and Munchkin #1 went back to preschool this morning, I thought it might be fun to share my two favorite back-to-school books.

First up is Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, with illustrations by the indomitable Barbara Cooney. This is the true-ish story of kids in a little Arizona community at the turn of the last century. They carved up a tiny piece of desert into their own town, named Roxaboxen, complete with houses, businesses, and municipal institutions. It’s a great example of what kids can do when left to their own devices, and I’ve never read it to a group of students who didn’t create their own town at recess. (Sadly, school playgrounds don’t allow for the sort of follow-through the kids in Roxaboxen achieved.)  To make it even more fun, the former Roxaboxen location is now a city park, and you can add a piece of your own community to it.  Visit http://www.ci.yuma.az.us/4761.htm to find out more.

Favorite book number two is a class – My Great-Aunt Arizona, by Gloria Houson. The beautiful paintings are by Susan Lamb.  Now, I have to admit that at times this is one of those picture books that adults love more than students.  Overall, though, it’s a great way to help students learn that over the course of time, some things change, and some things stay the same.  My Great-Aunt Arizona tells the story of the real Arizona, who worked hard to become a teacher, and taught for decades in schools that progressed from a one-room building to a modern structure.  You see her rocking a baby to sleep with her foot while teaching, and you learn how students traveled the world based on her encouragement.  It’s a beautiful story about the power of teaching and learning, and I highly recommend you give it a practice read before reading it aloud, or you might be a bit teary.