WOODLANDS SCHOOL ~ Montevideo, Uruguay
Founded in 1995, Woodlands School is a Kindergarten through High School international school in Montevideo, Uruguay committed to the bilingual (Spanish/English) and holistic education of its students. Their goal is to help children become community and world citizens.
Feedback submitted by school librarian Virginia Brown.
A Child’s Garden
Once again, it was a privilege to share a read-aloud session with the Spirit of Papertigers.
Prior to the reading we asked two Grade 6 students to write a story from the point of view of the ittle girl who waters the plants in the ditch on the other side of the fence.
With their teacher, María Stefani, we believed this would be a good class to discuss this book with, since they are Studying World War I.
Here are some samples of the students’ writing:
The boy thought he would be nothing without it. Winter came, and sadness still was there.
I was on the other side of the fence and I saw the vine was still alive and so I helped the boy to make it grow. And at that time I felt so good to help a boy whose only happy time at war was staying with the plant.
On that day I was remembering things, because I remembered a Little Boy that was in tears because they were taking his plant... So I started to give the plant water to survive. After some weeks the plant grew and was beautiful.
The children liked the book, but when asked if they thought this could really happen, most of them believed not.
Since many of them are very interested in the story of Anne Frank, we suggested this as an example of aiding each other at times of war, and this led to a more optimistic vision of our own responsibilities, empathy and willingness to put ourselves out to help each other in the face of danger.
We thank the Spirit of PaperTigers for sharing this book with us, for sparking thought-provoking reading and discussion, so that we can fully understand that beyond cultures and adversity we all have a duty to water the plant of hope.
The example of reading a story that is well-written and beautifully illustrated always encourages reading.
Beyond this, the true story of a man who goes out of his way to share his books and his love of reading with people who do not have books in their communities, braving rivers and bandits takes "encouraging reading" to a very exciting, practical and inspiring dimension.
After the read-aloud session, we asked the children to recommend books that we could take if we had our own Biblioburro. Going through the titles of all these good books helped the children revise their own reading history and provided for a lot of peer-to-peer recommendations.
Living in Latin America, many children found it intriguing that the book had a title in Spanish, and some Spanish words, but was actually written in English. The fact that someone from a different culture and language had decided to write about this true story provided an excellent example of cultural awareness.
Luis and his Biblioburro helped us think of the less fortunate not just in other countries, but in our own as well. We asked the children how far they thought our Biblioburro could go if there were people who needed books. They suggested other libraries, other cities, other countries, and, with their own boundless energy “outer space” and “another galaxy”!
Please click on a thumbnail to view as a slideshow. Use cursors or click in the top corners of the screen to scroll through the images.
This book was shared as a read-aloud by Grade 4 teacher Michelle Quintela.
The students went on to write book reviews about it. Here are examples of book reviews written by one of our students, and one written collectively. They both speak eloquently of the love of reading inspired by the quality of the writing, the artwork and of the book itself.
Book review by Lucia F.:
Have you ever stopped to think in all the people that live in a poor country? Well, I was born in a poor country so I know in which conditions people in Chad live. I was born in a place called Cabo Verde, there are 10 islands and they live in poor conditions so I know how those children feel.
Today we read a book about children that live in Chad and it talks about how children in Chad go to school. A child called Thomas was going to his first day of school and he was very ANXIOUS, EXCITED and NERVOUS. When he arrived, there was no school. The teacher was standing there and said ‘Our first lesson is to build our school.‘
Find out more about this AWESOME and INTERESTING book and discover the ending.
I give 10 HUGE stars to this book and I would like to say ‘thank you PAPERTIGERS for giving us this FABULOUS BOOK!’
Collective book review (click to enlarge):
These words also speak volumes about how the book helped the children to become aware of other cultures. In this individual book report, the personal experience of the student is tied in to the reality explored in Rain School. Ms. Quintela reports that most students did not know anything about Chad the country, or its existence, but further than that she says: “Students were quite amazed that there are children that have to make their school” and she adds, “In fact, many said 'I never thought this happened.'"
The book went beyond awakening the students’ empathy for the reality of children in Chad, but also Ms. Quintela says that the children "expressed feelings of appreciation for those things they had taken for granted until reading this story".
For all the above reasons, and beyond individual preferences, all PaperTigers books are a much-valued asset in our class and school libraries.
Feedback submitted by the school co-Principal Inés Stefani.
Senior 2 teacher Gabriela Stewart:
Writing book reviews is included in the Senior 2 syllabus. Senior 2 students are 13-14. Here are the reviews they wrote about some of the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers books:
Grade 6 teacher Tatiana Storace:
We read One Hen aloud in the Grade 6 class and these were some of the students’ thoughts and opinions:
The children were really engaged. They asked questions, noted the difference between their life and Kojo’s (e.g.: the way Kojo carried things on his head whereas they would use their arms). Some children found the intentional lack of proportion of the people and objects in the illustrations difficult to understand.
Kojo’s attitude at the end of the story (that of loaning money on the condition of the girl committing to loan money in the future to somebody else who may need it), allowed us to link the story to the Pay it Forward movie they had watched, and to students committing to their own "pay it forward" mini projects.
The following book review was done as a shared writing activity:
"One Hen Made a Big Difference"
Do you think a little loan and a little brown hen can change the future of a whole country? This tale is based on a true story about a small boy called Kojo who lived in a poor village in Ghana. It all started when his mother gave Kojo the rest of the loan she had asked for. He had an amazing idea: Kojo's plan was to help his mother by buying a hen which would give them food and money. After finding the perfect hen his life started to change.
Read this book to find out how Kojo was able to change his life. This is a fantastic and interesting story which shows how a small boy with a great and clever idea was able to improve the lives of many people.
We recommend this beautiful book because we read it aloud in class and learned a very important lesson about solidarity, effort, hard work and commitment. Start the chain and pay it forward. Nothing is impossible.
Grade 4 teacher Michelle Quintela:
I read My Little Round House aloud to my Grade 4 students. My first impression of the book was that it was a very interesting story of a completely foreign world. I thought it would appeal to my students because of its unusual topic and setting. As I began to read the book to them, the girls immediately connected with baby Jilu, as expected in our society. Naturally our girls like babies and cuteness. On the other hand, the boys were more interested in the storyline and the illustrations. Some boys asked questions about cultural issues. Towards the end of the story most of the boys said they didn´t like it that much, since it lacked the elements they look for in a story, i.e. action and humour.
I had the children look up Mongolia in the map, and we looked for general information about the country on the internet. I even talked about PaperTigers and the reasons why I was reading this particular book to them. But in spite of the work done to ensure comprehension, it was hard for them to go beyond the actual story. I reckon that our country is very monocultural and that this makes it extra hard for our children to relate to very foreign societies. As a consequence, my students have not developed empathy and understanding of different cultures. In this case, if they knew a little bit more about Mongolian and nomadic cultures to begin with, I think children might have engaged with the book more. I will have this in mind before introducing the next Spirit of PaperTigers book to them.
Some of the children's comments about My Litle Round House:
"My Little Round House is an interesting book. What I thought when I read it was that the author had an interesting idea for having people place themselves in the shoes of others."
"The part that impacted me the most was the different places they moved to... I was impressed with all the places the baby saw. I recommend this book, because you end up knowing lots of things, like I did, about Mongolia."
"I liked the book because I'd never heard about Mongolian culture before. It was strange, though... My favourite part was when Jilu, the baby, started to cry and the grandparents took him."
"The book My Little Round House is a very interesting story about a little baby showing us how his family lives and functions."
"I didn´t like this book because there were strange parts, strange names. I thought it was boring. Kids don´t like educational books, kids like action. I think this book is for adults. My only favourite part was that the baby girl (or boy, I don´t know) likes to explore... but I don´t recommend it for fun guys like me."
My favourite character is Jilu. My favourite part is when the baby is still in the mother´s belly and then, ta-ta-ta-taa!… you will know what happens by reading it."