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Books We Love: The Way to Bea

#bookexcursion, #DiverseKidLit, Books We Love

Huge thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for sharing a copy of The Way to Bea with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of ten educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

Sometimes, you pick up a book, and it speaks to those moments that are so universal for kids. The Way to Bea is one of those books. When Beatrix Lee gets back from the best summer of her life, her best friend seems to have moved on without her. When her feelings are too painful to speak about, she writes about them instead. Turning to poetry, she voices her inner thoughts and hides them away in a secret spot in the woods. When someone starts writing back, Bea wonders if she has a new friend – and wonders how she can convince them to stay.

Kat Yeh has created a beautiful main character in Bea, but the book is filled with a loveable, creative, and compassionate cast. Bea’s dad is a clever comic book creator, and her mom is an incredible artist. Mrs. Rodriguez, the school librarian, always has funky sneakers on her feet and the perfect book in her hand. Briggs, the fedora-wearing editor of the school newspaper, is kind, clever, and charming. Will, who is obsessed with labyrinths, helps Bea find a way out of her friendship maze. I fell in love with this amazing crew, and so will middle-grade readers.

With a page-turning plot, an incredible cast, and gorgeous storytelling, middle school readers will love this one!

Classroom Connections: Suggestions for Middle School Classrooms

  • Kat Yeh brilliantly centers moments around songs in this book. Bea will describe the song that’s playing during a certain scene, and at the back of the book, there’s a list of the songs for each scene. As a creative writing exercise, have students listen to a song and write a fictional scene to go along with it.
  • This book touches on the history of labyrinths. Have students read informational texts on the history of labyrinths as they read this fiction text. They will find many connections to the information Bea and Will share!
  • Bea writes gorgeous poetry in both free verse and haiku. Her poetry touches on themes of friendship, belonging, identity, and more. Have students craft their own poems on these themes during a poetry unit.

Books We Love: Be A King

#bookexcursion, #DiverseKidLit, Books We Love

Huge thanks to Bloomsbury Kids for sharing a copy of Be a King with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of ten educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
– Martin Luther King Jr. 

When Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford opened with the above quote, I knew it would be perfect for the little leaders in my classroom. Be a King gives suggestions for ways kids (and grown-ups, too!) can pay tribute to Dr. King as they live their lives. James E. Ransome has illustrated scenes in civil rights history alongside suggestions like: “You can be a King. Have a dream. Make yours great enough to grow into.” On other pages, kids see illustrations of everyday situations in which they can take action and “be a King.”

In our classrooms today, we teach tomorrow’s world-changers, but we also need to have to have faith in their ability to take action today. There are so many ways in which our children can begin changing the world with their kindness and heart. There are so many ways in which they can begin to take action against injustice. This beautiful picture book gives kids practical suggestions for doing just that.

This book certainly deserves a place in classrooms as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day, but it also deserves a place in our classrooms year round. As Vera of The Tutu Teacher explains, “If January 15th is the first time you’re talking to your students about leaders of color, you’re doing it wrong.” We can all grow as educators as we work to incorporate civil rights history into our classrooms. There are so many ways in which we can all be Kings.