Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird w/ Sonia Nimr

Grade Level: 4-5-6

Summary: A Little Piece of Ground is an incredible story about a young boy by the name of Karim, who is living through the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This beautifully written novel brings to life the aspirations and the daily struggles of Karim, whose only desire is to play soccer, but the strict curfew keeps him inside for hours to days on end. When the curfew is lifted, Karim makes ever attempt to escape from the house and play with his new friend Hopper. They discover an abandoned ground and clear it to create a makeshift soccer field. One day Karim loses track of time and is outside on grounds when the curfew is enforced. Karim’s only option is to hide out in an abandoned car near the field. Days later he is spotted by the soldiers and endures great pain and risks in hopes of seeing his family again.

Reflections: This is my favorite children’s book thus far. Not only did it allow me to experience a different world of my own, but it also encouraged me to educate myself on matters still occurring in the Middle East. This read is very captivating and therefore difficult to start/finish en route on the subway. The language and style of writing would easily draw in any child or adult. You experience every emotion in this read and you start to become one with the character, Karim. Your own judgments of others and culture is tested in this book as Karim experiences the cultural judgments he has on other groups of people and vice versa. The title may be difficult for younger students to understand. It is a metaphor for the bigger problem of Palestine wanting independence while Israelis oppress them.

How Would I Use the Book: This book can be used in a variety of ways. It could integrate content areas of theme, history and literacy. Topic areas for each would include: cultural appreciation, study of the other countries (particular Middle East…historically & today), government structures, Read Aloud, Independent Reading, Book Clubs, almost all reading strategies modeled in reader’s workshop, stop & jots, reader’s response, if your school permits a discussion on types of religion, author study, comparison study of life as a teenager, friendship, family structure, etc.

Domains of Social Justice: 1. Self-Love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture, an appreciation for friends and family, understanding their own identity and what that means in this large world. 2. Respect for Others: Children learn about the encounters Karim has and learn to understand the daily encounters they have with others, who are the same or different or both. What actions can they take to minimize hostility between people? Groups of people? 3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students learn about the roles of sex (societal perspective), how cultural groups are oppressing one another and what results due to it all. 4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn of the different identities that are present in the classroom and learn about appreciating the uniqueness that is present in all of us.


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