Who Was Helen Keller?

As mentioned in a previous post, my daughter and I (and now hub) are addicted to the Who Was/Is? series of young reader books.  This past weekend while frozen in we read Gare Thompson’s Who Was Helen Keller?, illustrated by Nancy Harrison. I knew Keller was deaf and blind and that a devoted teacher, Annie Sullivan, was able, after much perseverance, to open the world to Keller.  Yet, I had no idea of the numerous obstacles Sullivan and Keller conquered together until Sullivan’s death in 1936 as well as the history behind schooling for deaf children.  Go Gallaudet!

What amazed me probably more than anything else is how, in order for Keller to be able to learn at Radcliffe, Sullivan had to spell every lecture into Keller’s hand.  Every lecture . . .  Yet, their combined efforts prevailed, and Keller graduated from Radcliffe in 1904 with honors.  What an amazing lesson to be learned by all less-than-motivated learners.


What amazed my eight-year-old daughter was how Keller had met every president from Cleveland to Kennedy.

Not only an ideal chapter book to use in teaching students how to overcome adversity, but also ideal in discussions about interacting with people whom are different than ourselves.  For in chapter 9, we learn, “The girls were friendly [at Radcliffe], but many did not know what to say or how to act around Helen”  (87).

Unfortunately, the English teacher within must mention the dreaded typo found on page 92, “The book also revealed Helen’s wonderful imagination ad [sic] how she pictured her world.”  What is nice to note is that my squirt noticed the error, too, in her reading.  Yesssssssssssssssss!

For my daughter’s book report assignment, she opted to create a newspaper based on Who Was Helen Keller?  Thank you Ms. Gann for such creative learning opportunities.  Amazing!

IMG_1862Who Was Helen Keller? just may be a contender for my daughter’s next book selection for Book Club Babes as they will be exploring the biography genre.

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

My eight-year-old daughter discovered Yona Zeldis McDonough’s Who Was Harriet Tubman? while sifting through the books handed down to her from our generous teen neighbor.  She was excited to make this find because she had already read McDonough’s Who Was Rosa Parks? at school.  Her passionate recommendation regarding this series was, “It’s not like you don’t want to read these books,” said in a hurried speech.  Hey, this more than works for me.

My daughter allowed me to read Who Was Harriet Tubman? first because she is currently reading Janet B. Pascal’s Who Was Abraham Lincoln?.  I read Who Was Harriet Tubman? in one sitting;  it was that good.

Not only did I learn crucial biographical facts, but I also heard Tubman’s voice through key quotes.  When finally a free woman, Tubman declared, “‘I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now that I was free.  There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees and over the fields and I felt like I was in heaven’”  (45).  As a spy in the Union army, Tubman concluded, “”I made up my mind [that] I would never wear a long dress on another expedition . . . but would have a bloomer as soon as I could get it’”  (82).  My kind of lady . . .

With illustrations by Nancy Harrison which further reinforce Tubman’s story, this is an ideal book for even the reluctant reader.

My next assigned reading [from my third-grader] is What Is the Statue of Liberty? by Joan Holub.  I am looking forward to uncovering what all I had failed to learn or simply forgotten since my time in third grade.