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Eve Bunting

Thematic Studies


Using How Many Days to America?, Train to Somewhere, and Jin Woo, create a study unit about the concept of home.

• What does home mean to your students?
• What does it mean to the family in How Many Days to America? What do Marianne and Laura think home means? And how is David's home threatened?
• How does David make a home for Jin Woo?
• How is the concept of home the same in all these books? How is it different? What understanding of home do these characters share with your students?

Set up a "home" corner in your classroom. Have each student bring in something that defines his or her home. You, too, should contribute to this collection. The students should write a paragraph about why this object or photograph is so important to them. You can have each child report to the class about his or her object.


These five picture books feature a variety of families. For example, the family in The Wednesday Surprise is an extended family, and The Memory String has a stepfamily. Make a graphic organizer that describes the families in each of the books. You might also want to add the families of the children in the class to the organizer.


Using all five picture books, introduce the elements of literature to your third- and fourth grade- students.


Who is the narrator? Except for The Memory String, all of the books are told in the first person. Why? Why do you think The Memory String has a third-person narrator? Talk about the language the author uses to give us information, to convey feelings, and to describe things. If your students are ready, look at the adjectives and sentence structure Eve Bunting employs.


What is the story? Beginning, middle, and end? What is the conflict? How is it resolved?


Where and when does the story take place? Without looking at the illustrations, what do we know about the setting?


What are the themes of the book? What message does the author communicate to us as readers?

Second graders will be introduced to many new words in these five books. On 3" x 5" index cards create a dictionary word box and add the new words as you read through the books. For each book place the words on your word wall so the children can see and refer to them throughout the day. Challenge your students to include these words in their everyday speech and their creative-writing projects.


Language Arts

• Understands the author's purpose
• Understands the basic concept of plot, elements of character development, and the ways in which language is used in literary texts


Invite your students to be art critics. They should look at the illustrations in the books and compare their styles and media, from the super-realistic watercolor paintings in Jin Woo, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet, to the moving pastels by Beth Peck in How Many Days to America?

Ask the students:

• How does this art style fit the time and place and mood of the story?

• Do the characters look like the ones the story created in your mind?

• How would the feelings expressed in the story change if the illustrator used a different medium?

• Which illustration is your favorite? Why?

• How do the pictures make you feel?


Language Arts

• Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media
• Knows how different elements help to establish plot, setting, and character in visual material
• Knows different elements that appeal to him or her

Visual Arts
• Knows the differences among visual characteristics
• Understands how different features cause different responses

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