Teacher Tips

Thank you to the wonderful blog, Books 4 Learning, for the review of my book, MY HANDS SING THE BLUES - Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey.  Here's an excerpt from the review, including terrific teaching ideas:

"My Hands Sing the Blues is a work of art in and of itself.  The stunning blend of illustrations and poetic language make this book a must read.  I love how Harvey brilliantly incorporates the blues music style in the text which makes it soothing and striking.  While this book is an ideal selection to have on hand during Black History Month, its appeal is not limit to that event.  There is a wide range of activities it can be used for by teachers from art and literature to history and music.  Parents can enjoy reading it to their children just for the fantastic storytelling, melodic language, and brilliant illustrations.  I highly recommend this book for all audiences. 

Teaching Opportunities:
  • Language—Use the examples of onomatopoeia, alliteration, and rhyme to teach these sound devices to younger children learning beginning reading skills or older students learning about poetic language
  • Art—The exquisite use of collage will inspire budding artist to practice this art media; students can, like Bearden, use their life experiences or music as inspiration
  • History—Glimpses and references to the Harlem Renaissance, segregation, and the Jim Crow laws are craftily incorporated
  • Literature—In a study of biographies, utilize as an example and discuss how it is like a type biography and how it is different; also can be used in a study of multicultural/African-American literature or poetry
  • Music—Play samples of jazz and blues music; parallel the language and imagery of book to that of the music
  • Literary Flashback—Define what a flashback is in literature; use the picture book as model, discuss how/why writers use it
  • Writing—Students can write a story with a flashback or write lines of poetry imitating the blues inspired stanzas
  • Moving—The artist looks back at his memory of moving from the South to the North; discuss how he probably felt and allow students to talk about their own moving experiences."                                     (Excerpt from Books 4 Learning)