Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reading: The Journey - Stories of Migration

Courtesy of www.barnesandnoble.com
As a third grade teacher, one of the learning objectives that I am required to teach in science is that of animal adaptations.  Migration is one of the topics that is covered in this unit, and my students enjoy learning about animals and how they are able to survive.  As a review for the upcoming SOL, and certainly for my group of students next year, I plan to share the book The Journey: Stories of Migration by Cynthia Rylant with my students.  Not only does this picture book, published in 2006 by The Blue Sky Press, include useful, in-depth information about animals species and how/why they migrate, it also features beautiful paintings by Lambert David that bring the animals to live.

In her book, Rylant outlines the migration of the following species: locusts, whales, eels, butterflies, caribou (my favorite illustrations!), and terns.  For each species, Rylant begins by describing where they live, where they migrate to, and why they must migrate.  She explains how migration helps each species to survive.  For example, the whales must migrate from the Arctic waters to southern waters to give birth to their calves.  Caribou must migrate to have their babies because it is not safe to have them in a forest filled with wolves!  While this book is filled with information, it is told with the same feeling of a story.  About the butterflies, Rylant writes, "The monarchs will settle themselves thickly over the limbs of the great California evergreen trees - thousands of butterflies to a tree - and the forests will be transformed.  What a wondrous sight!  Here on the tall trees, the beautiful monarchs will hibernate through the winter months safely away from the freezing snow and ice of their northern homes."  What a wondrous way to write non-fiction!  Rylant's words are much more engaging and personable than those of a science text book; this book is quite effective in presenting the idea of migration to children through many examples and details.  If I were sharing it with my students, I would share it story by story, instead of all at once.   

The element of this book that made it most memorable are the beautiful pictures included with each story!  Each story of migration includes full-bleed illustrations that are vibrant in color and show the same details of the animals as a photograph would - perhaps even mores!  On the caterpillar, for example, readers can glimpse fringed hair on the caterpillar feet.  The colors are rich and engaging and immediately drew me to this book.  

If you are teaching migration to your students or just want to learn more about it for yourself, I highly recommend The Journey!   You can check it out at your local library. To view more illustrations by Lambert Davis, visit his personal website, too. 

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