Common Core & NGSS

STEM Tuesday — Checking Your Health– In the Classroom

Once again, the STEM Tuesday Team put together a powerhouse book list for this month’s theme: CHECKING YOUR HEALTH.  You can access that book list quickly and easily right HERE.

As always, on Week Two, we’re going to take a few books from the list and talk about classroom application. Upper elementary, middle school, home school, summer school – we’ve got activities for you!

Lights, Camera, Action

Human Body Theater

Use Maris Wicks’s fascinating book Human Body Theater, a Nonfiction Revue to put on a show! The book, which is in graphic/comic strip format (can we say graphic novel for nonfiction? Hmm….) is divided into Acts One through Eleven, with each act explaining one of our bodies’ systems. Students might work in groups, choosing a system and writing a script for a whole-body performance. A ticket to the Human Body Theater might be just be the hottest ticket in town!

 

 

 

 

Then and Now

Bubonic Panic Cover

Using Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow and Ebola: Fears and Facts by Patricia Newman, compare the effects of two devastating illnesses that hit the world at two very different times. What challenges do scientists and medical professionals face today that are similar to those faced years ago? What advances have made research and treatment easier? What still needs to happen in order to prevent an epidemic from ever occurring again?

 

Biology Biography Bash

murphy_breakthrough        reef_florence nightingale

Many classrooms hold Biography Bashes or Living History events or otherwise showcase people from history who’ve had an impact on the way we live. Consider hosting a biography event centered around historical figures who have made a difference in the fields of health and medicine.  This month’s book list contains two fantastic examples: Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef and Breakthrough! How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy.

And, don’t forget fiction!

Here at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, the STEM Tuesday team loves to highlight great middle-grade fiction with our nonfiction topics.  In Chasing Secrets: A Deadly Surprise in a City of Lies, Gennifer Choldenko’s fictional characters must try to understand a mysterious illness. She sets the story against the very real backdrop that was San Francisco in 1900. I was hooked in chapter one, when the main character says “I know I shouldn’t say things like this. Aunt Hortense says I try hard to be peculiar. But she’s wrong; I come by it quite naturally.”

So, here’s a challenge for the comment section below: Add a middle-grade fiction title that explores a health or medical issue. Contemporary or historical, realistic or science fiction. Can you come up with one to share?

Michelle Houts created today’s STEM Tuesday post. She’s the author of several fiction and nonfiction books for kids, including the STEM-based Lucy’s Lab Chapter Book Series from Sky Horse Publishing/Sky Pony Press. After reading about bubonic plague, tuberculosis, ebola, and other deadly diseases for today’s post, she is now going to go wash her hands. Again. 

Writing and Illustrating Muslim characters in children’s literature: Interview and Giveaway with Author Saadia Faruqi and Illustrator Hatem Aly

I am thrilled to interview Author Saadia Faruqi and Illustrator Hatem Aly and discuss their new book – Meet Yasmin!  Saadia and Hatem talk about their experience developing a story with a Muslim main character and why diversity in children’s books matters.

 

Saadia, Yasmin is a brave girl who has a big imagination and loves adventure. Why is it important for you to write/illustrate the story of an empowering ethnic minority character?

 Saadia: So far we’ve seen brown characters mostly in issues books. They typically face a problem – or issue – that directly relates to their identity. For instance a Muslim main character facing Islamophobia, or an African American main character experiencing racism. Although I do believe that those sorts of books are helpful to our understanding of critical social and political issues, it also means that minority groups are otherized further, they’re seen as different, or only viewed in the context of that issue. Yasmin is the antidote to this problem: a Muslim girl in America, a brown first generation American, who is perfectly normal and average, facing all the issues every child her age faces, and having the same happy disposition we expect to see from all our children. It was really important to me not to make Yasmin or her family “the other” – someone different because of their skin color or their religion or ethnic background. There is a sort of empowerment in that normalization that only minority groups can truly understand.

 

Hatem, was it important for you to take the author’s background into consideration while creating the illustrations in the book?

Hatem: It is important, However, I didn’t have to work so hard on being familiar with Saadia’s background since I can relate to many elements of her background already being brought up in Egypt and Yasmin’s family seems so familiar to me in a broader sense. I did work on bringing up some Pakistani visual elements but illustrating Yasmin went organically harmonized with the author’s experience and my own as well.

 

In the recent times, literary agents and publishing houses for children and young adult books have made an open call for submissions from Muslim authors and illustrators. Can you explain why it matters to include diverse characters in children’s and young adult literature?

 Saadia: It’s really crucial to have as much diversity in all sorts of literature, not just in terms of characters but also stories. I actually come from an adult literary background, and I see the same calls for diversity in that age group as well, and it warms my heart to witness these changes in publishing. The reason this matters so much is two-fold (and something we in kidlit talk about constantly): mirrors and windows. My children need a mirror. They need to see themselves reflected in the pages of the books they read. Growing up in Pakistan I didn’t have that. I read exclusively white stories, by white authors, and my worldview was shaped with an extreme inferiority complex because of that. I don’t want my children to have the same, and I know nobody else does either. Also, other children need windows. They should be able to read and enjoy books that show a different sort of family than theirs, a different culture than theirs. This is the only way we can have a younger generation that’s more empathetic and understanding and aware than our previous generations were.

Hatem: It is critically necessary to show diversity in literature of all ages and to express a wider range of life elements in people’s lives. In my work I sometimes pay attention to some things that bothered me as a child but also that I found intriguing. For example, I remember almost all comics and story books took place in a sort of a suburban –house per family- neighborhood and I felt strange finding nobody living in an apartment like myself and most of the millions of people in Cairo alone or at least everyone I know. So I felt alienated but amused from a distance longing for something I can’t define. It seemed to me there was a generic way of living that needs to be challenged and I couldn’t put my finger on the issue exactly until I was older. It’s important for children to see themselves and to see others as well in books.

 

How can parents, librarians, and readers help support books like Meet Yasmin?

 Saadia: The key is not only to read the book but to discuss it. You could use the back matter which has some really good discussion guides for students, and there is also an educator’s guide for teachers. Finally, and for me most excitingly, Capstone has some very cool downloadable activities based on Yasmin, which kids are going to love. I encourage parents, librarians and teachers to take advantage of those as much as possible.

Hatem: The best thing is to read the book, and share it with others! Personally I feel that the most powerful way is to read it to students or story time at public libraries as well as parents to their younger children. I find that helps building bonds between children and books.  I love libraries, so I ask everyone to walk into their local public library and suggest that they buy a few copies for their shelves. Most libraries have book suggestion tools for their patrons, either online or in person. The same goes for your child’s school library.

 

Who are your personal author/illustrator idols?

 Hatem: It’s more of an emergence of inspiration fueled by a mix of interesting people. Many names come to mind, and many I will forget. Some whose work I enjoy and admire are Bill Watterson, Tove Jansson, Maurice Sendak, Jon Klassen, Luke Pearson, Marc Boutavant, Sempé, Zep, Jillian Tamaki, Lynda Barry, Vera Brosgol, Hayao Miyazaki, Naoki Urasawa, Edward Gorey, Kate Beaton, Carson Ellis, Oliver Jeffers and many more.

Saadia: Some of my favorite writers are my own peers, because I believe writing is best done as part of a community. In early reader and picture books I admire Hena Khan who’s been a trailblazer as far as Muslim representation in kidlit is concerned, and really carved a space not only for herself but for others as well. In terms of illustrators, I’m actually a big fan of Hatem Aly, haha! I feel very blessed that he’s part of Team Yasmin because it’s so important for me to have a person doing the art who really understands what it means to be Muslim, and first generation, and sometimes “the other”. He really gets my stories in a way that I think another illustrator wouldn’t have, and I’m very grateful for that.

 

What can readers take away from Meet Yasmin?

Saadia: Readers will enjoy seeing themselves in Meet Yasmin, even if they are very different in superficial ways to Yasmin and her family. Yasmin is literally the every-girl, and her family is the same as every other family. With everything that’s going on politically in our country at the moment, I hope that Yasmin can help readers understand that Americans come in all colors, and that there’s beauty and worth in diversity, despite what they may hear in the news sometimes.

Hatem: I believe that readers will have fun with Yasmin and recognize similarities despite some superficial differences. They will be inspired to be curious, creative, and believing in themselves all the way even if things go wrong sometimes. There are a lot of lessons a child can learn, but there’s also a lot of entertainment which is so important to develop in this age group of readers.

 

For more about Saadia and her work, visit her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter.

For more about Hatem and his work, visit his website. You can also connect with him on Twitter.

Thanks, Saadia and Hatem!

 

Want to own your very own copy of Meet Yasmin? Enter our giveaway by leaving a comment below! 

You may earn extra entries by blogging/tweeting/facebooking the interview and letting us know. The winner will be announced here on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 and will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (US/Canada only) to receive the book.

 

STEM Tuesday– Checking Your Health — Book List

History is filled with interesting tales of mysterious illnesses. These books feature the stories of the science and discovery behind medical mysteries and also some new medical threats facing the world today. These books intrigue readers who love mysteries, science, and healthcare.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow

Many think of the plague as a disease that killed many people in Europe, but it also came to America. A man died of the bubonic plague in America in 1900. This book tells the story of America’s first plague epidemic. Pair this book with the historical novel Chasing Secrets: A Deadly Surprise in a City of Lies by Newbery Medalist Gennifer Choldenko, a medical mystery abut the plague.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Pandemic: How Climate, the Environment, and Superbugs Increase the Risk by Connie Goldsmith

Goldsmith’s new title shows the links between climate, the environment, and disease. Are we creating unnecessary risk with unsustainable environmental practices? A timely and important look at the possibility of a world-wide health crisis.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Ebola: Fears and Facts by Patricia Newman

From 1975 to 2013 this deadly disease killed about 1,500 people. If that wasn’t bad enough the numbers jumped to six times that number in 2014. Read about this disease and the heroic people who helped stop its spread. Particularly relevant in the wake of the newest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Science Comics Series — Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield by Falynn Koch and The Brain: Ultimate Thinking Machine by Tory Woolcott and Alex Graudins

This graphic novel/comic series is perfect for reluctant readers and budding scientists. These titles contain a fictional premise wrapped around scientific facts.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow

Readers will discover a little known epidemic that struck the United States in the early 20th century and how preventative measures changed the way we eat. Includes 100 archival photos, scientific investigations, and the real-life stories of victims of this mysterious illness.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks

This fun, informative graphic novel about the human body is perfect for young biology students. A master of ceremonies leads readers through a theatrical revue of each system within the body. Clever!

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef

This biography tells the story of a compassionate, remarkable nurse, whose modern methods of nursing became the standards of today. Did you know she also defied the Victorian mores of her time?

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

This award-winning title invites readers to discover the epidemic that spread through Philadelphia.  Pair it with Laurie Halse Anderson’s historical fiction Fever 1793.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank, plus Breakthrough: How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy  

These two titles give readers a look into how dedicated doctors and scientists have impacted life for millions of people.

 

STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by:

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including her 2016 title, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the Green Earth Book Award and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia. She enjoys sharing her adventures, research, and writing tips. She strives to inform, inspire, and educate her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. www.nancycastaldo.com

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that inspires kids to seek connections between science, literacy, and the environment. The recipient of  a Sibert Honor Award for Sea Otter Heroes and the Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy!, her books have received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how her writing skills give a voice to our beleaguered environment. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.