⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Illustrated by Oge Mora [with teaching ideas]

Publication Date: January 7, 2020 | Grade Levels: Preschool – 3

Good Morning! ☕️ I am so excited to share a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time now with you: The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read.

Quick Summary. Written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, The Oldest Student tells the story of Mary Walker, who was born into slavery, received her freedom, worked as a sharecropper with her husband, raised three sons, and then outlived her immediate family. When she learned to read at 116, she achieved another form of freedom for which she had yearned: the ability to read.

Critique. Hubbard’s story of Mary Walker is illuminating both in its presentation of our nation’s history and its powerful message about the freedom of literacy. Mora’s mixed media illustrations reveal beautifully the transformation of Mary Walk as a reader. A bit of a long read aloud, The Oldest Student‘s message will resonate with so many.

Teaching Ideas. Here are some teaching ideas for The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read:

  • Using The Oldest Student as a mentor text, encourage students to pick a caregiver or older friend to interview and then create a written piece or picture about how this person learned to read or write. Asking students to reflect on their own reading and writing (in words or pictures) may also be illuminating for the child – and for the adults in this child’s life.
  • Mora’s mixed media work is stunning. Invite students to create mixed media collages about their experiences as readers and writers.
  • Pair The Oldest Student with Rita Dove’s poem “The First Book” in a lesson about the power of reading.

A beautiful literary tribute to an inspiring figure, The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read should be on your bookshelves and earns four stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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