One Small Voice: Read-Alouds About People Who Made A Difference

This is a portion of a project video for a grant I funded in 2010. The purpose was to purchase a circulating collection of award-winning books and audiobooks for all elementary students on the topics of social justice, humanitarian assistance and courageous action. Students were informed, enlightened and entertained by sharing great children’s literature about significant people from recent history, as well as stories about children and adults (and one dog) who accomplish amazing things.

Here's a three-minute video booktalking the books in the program.  If anybody wants access to the complete video, including details about the program, leave a comment.

A Boy Named Beckoning by Gina Capaldi.  This story reveals the remarkable life of a Native American boy named Wassaja, or "Beckoning," who was kidnapped from his Yavapai tribe and sold as a slave. Adopted by an Italian photographer in 1871 and renamed Carlos Montezuma, the young boy traveled throughout the Old West, bearing witness to the prejudice against and poor treatment of Native Americans. Carlos eventually became a doctor and leader for his people, calling out for their rights.
Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman. Professor Ueno bids goodbye to his faithful dog before boarding the train to work every morning. And every afternoon, just before three o’clock, Hachi is at the train station to greet his beloved master. One day, the train arrives at the station without the professor. For ten years, Ha­chi waits for his master to return. Not even Yasuo, the young boy who takes care of Hachi, can persuade him to leave his post.  A novel inspired by a true story brings to life the legendary Akita who became a national symbol for loyalty and devotion.
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull. The dramatic story of Chavez's 340-mile march to protest the working conditions of migrant farmworkers in California is the centerpiece of this well-told biography.
Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories by Rosemary Wells. In 1923, there were no doctors or hospitals in the isolated mountains of Appalachia. Then Mary Breckinridge came. Trained as a nurse, she made the Appalachians her life's work-fording icy streams and climbing untracked mountains to bring medical help to those in need. These three stories, told in simple, luminous prose, bring to life the birth of the Frontier Nursing Service, which still operates in Kentucky.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.  2010 Newbery Honor winner. In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents.  Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. A wondrous story of adventure, faith, and friendship.
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire Nivola. "The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai changed the world one seed at a time. Claire A. Nivola's lovely Planting the Trees of Kenya offers Maathai's story to a younger, wider audience.  No child, and surely no library, ought to be without Planting the Trees of Kenya." —Boston Globe 
Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together.  When he was in first grade, Ryan learned about countries without access to clean drinking water. His commitment to building a well sparked an international chain of events, but the most moving part of the book is the correspondence and friendship between Ryan and Akana Jimmy, a boy in Agweo Village, Uganda.

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Sometimes, even in the middle of ugliness and neglect, a little bit of beauty will bloom. Award-winning writer Paul Fleischman dazzles us with this truth in Seedfolks--a slim novel that bursts with hope. Wasting not a single word, Fleischman unfolds a story of a blighted neighborhood transformed when a young girl plants a few lima beans in an abandoned lot. Slowly, one by one, neighbors are touched and stirred to action as they see tendrils poke through the dirt. Hispanics, Haitians, Koreans, young, and old begin to turn the littered lot into a garden for the whole community. A gift for hearts of all ages, this gentle, timeless story will delight anyone in need of a sprig of inspiration.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges. A personal, deeply moving historical documentary about a staggeringly courageous little girl at the center of events that already seem unbelievable.   

Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. Looking at the trash and graffiti in the courtyard outside her inner-city apartment, a young African-American girl wishes for something beautiful. Back home, the girl cleans up her trash-filled courtyard and resolves to help make her own neighborhood into something beautiful. This moving picture book offers a shining testament to the ability of human beings to find "something beautiful" in even the most unlikely places.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made A Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway. Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a microloan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many.  In 2006 Muhammad Yunus, a Bangledeshi economist who pioneered microloan banking, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

You can download files related to the grant here, including a PowerPoint presentation on all ten books and the importance of reading aloud, two posters in PDF and Pages format, and my original grant. Also in the folder are a bunch of Jim Trelease's brochures on reading aloud, which I got from his web site; they are not mine, but you should definitely use them. 

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