Reading Along I-94: The Lions of Little Rock, Part 4

Each week Jen Vincent and I talk books. For the month of June we are chatting about The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.

COLBY: One reason that I love The Lions of Little Rock so much is because I feel that it is a piece of high quality historical fiction that I could easily sell to my 4th grade readers.

Jen, if you were book talking The Lions of Little Rock to a middle grade reader what would you say? What about the book would you be sure to tell them about?

JEN: If I was talking to your students from this school year, (who I know have read Hound Dog True by Linda Urban) I would ask them to remember Mattie Breen and how we read about her being brave when it was really hard for her to be brave. Then I would tell them about Marlee and about how she is like Mattie and has to be really brave, except her story is about more than just her.

If I was talking to students who haven’t read Hound Dog True, then I would start by asking them to think about a time in their lives when they were scared to do something – maybe it’s being scared to ride a bike without training wheels, maybe it’s being scared to raise their hand in class, maybe it’s being scared to sleep in a strange place, or maybe it’s being scared to jump off of the high dive just like Marlee in Lions of Little Rock. Then I would ask them to tell me about how they overcame their fears or what would they need to help them overcome their fears.

And then I would introduce Marlee and explain that Lions of Little Rock is about how making a new friend – someone who was very different from Marlee – helped her get over her feelings of being scared. Her friend gave her strength by believing in her.

How would you booktalk Lions of Little Rock?

COLBY: I would sell them on Marlee. She is such an interesting, important, and amazing character, that I think she could sell the book no problem. You are right, she will reminds readers so much of Linda Urban’s Mattie Breen.

I would love to talk about Liz in my booktalk. I would tell my readers that she has a secret that will knock their socks off and send the book into a frenzy. Fourth graders LOVE secrets, and they want desperately to read about them.

JEN: That’s a good one! I think brains like to figure things out, so when we know there is a secret we are desperate to figure it out and have answers. That would be a great way to hook kiddos!

COLBY: Thanks for talking about The Lions of Little Rock with me this month. I’m looking forward to reading and discussing our July book together.

One Comment
  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas for the book talk. I think I’d also like students to share a bit about what they know about the times when there were so many restrictions, and how some people overcame them anyway. There are those subtle ones even today, & it would be good to talk about that too. It’s a book that might give some strength to a student to do the right thing despite other pressures.

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