A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks Written by Alice Faye Duncan and Illustrated by Xia Gordon

Hello! Hello! It’s still Spring Break, and, yes, there is still snow on the ground! Unbelievable! But my little guy and I have been reading up a storm this week! What have you read this week?

When I was in my teacher education program at William & Mary, I remember LOVING the poem “We Real Cool.” There was a beat and a feel and a certain attitude within the piece that I just fell in love with. So I’m pleased to share Alice Faye Duncan’s A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (out earlier this year from Sterling Children’s Books) with you today.

Quick Preview: Illustrated by Xia Gordon, this book tells the story of how Gwendolyn Brooks “found her light” with the help of her parents’ belief and her desire to be a writer and went on to tell the stories of Chicago’s South Side. The book weaves together the story of the poet’s life with her works. Detailed and thorough and poetic in its own way, this multimodal book will serve as a great introduction to the life of this great American poet .

My Thoughts: The book’s marketed age group is 5+, but I think younger readers will have trouble getting through this text in one sitting. It’s a rather long text, and it was hard for my little guy to stay put during our reading of this book. The illustrations, vibrant and bold, may appeal to an older audience. Whereas some pages include realistic elements, there are several other pages that are more symbolic, making it challenging for younger readers to access. I actually think the book – content and illustrations – will appeal to middle and high school students, especially those who might struggle with nonfiction text.

My children’s literature students and I are about to explore nonfiction, so I want to include a few teaching ideas for this book.

Read this to older readers before a poetry study. I always enjoy the idea of using children’s books in the middle grades and high school classroom. I really like this idea of reading this book at the beginning of an author study on Gwendolyn Brooks.

Use this book as a multimodal mentor text. Encourage students to select an artist and then create a nonfiction text that weaves together nonfiction elements and the artist’s works. Students will benefit greatly from composing a multimodal text.

I also love the idea of inviting students to turn their life story into a multimodal piece that includes nonfiction text (in prose or poetry), images, and art (e.g., poetry, paintings, or photographs).

A nice tribute to a great poet, A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks, earns three stars. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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