Classroom Guide for Celebrate! Connections Among Cultureswritten and photographed by Jan Reynolds
*Reading Level: Grades 3-4
Interest Level: Grades 1-5
Guided Reading Level: R
*Reading level based on the Spache Readability Formula
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World Cultures, Celebrations and Traditions, Communities, Human Experiences, Music, Dance, Environments
Language Arts: Reading for Perspective; Understanding the Human Experience; Multicultural Understanding
Social Studies: Culture; People, Places, and Environments; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; Global Connections; Time, Continuity, and Change
With captivating photographs and text, this book presents a fascinating look at the celebrations of various cultures around the world. The text describes the unique traditions followed by these groups and also highlights the underlying similarities and connections of these forms of human expression. The indigenous peoples covered in the book are: the Tibetans and Sherpas of the Himalaya, the Tuareg of the Sahara, the Aborigines of Australia, the Sami of northern (Arctic) Europe, the Yanomami of the Amazon Basin, the Inuit of northern North America, and the Balinese of Indonesia. School Library Journal praised "the excellent-quality photographs and the brief, engaging text com[ing] together to promote the theme: 'We are one human family celebrating life on Earth!'"
Author/photographer Jan Reynolds has traveled the world and has lived with the families featured in the book. She says, "I wanted to learn more about what people around the world honor as sacred and important in their lives. That's why I searched far and wide for indigenous tribes, as a way of walking back into the past. I wanted to learn about the basic ways of human expression. . . . Participating in rituals and celebrations gave me a window into human culture in a way nothing else could. . . . I hope readers will come away with a feeling that we as human beings, are so much alike."
Prereading Focus Questions
Before introducing this book to students, you may wish to develop background and promote anticipation by posing questions such as the following:
Exploring the Book
Show the front cover to students. Talk about the photographs. Ask students to tell what they think the people are doing. How are they dressed? Which pictures show something you might do?
Discuss the book title. Encourage students to relate it to the photographs on the front cover of the book.
Review the parts of the book—title page; copyright page with pronunciations; author note; map; and sources—with students.
As you page through the book, draw attention to the variety of clothing, settings, and activities shown in the photographs.
Setting a Purpose for Reading
Have students read to find out:
Write the words “Celebrate” and “Celebrations” on the chalkboard. Beneath them write the words listed below. Explain that these twenty words appear in the book. Pair students with partners and assign two or more words to each team. Have the teams:
After students have read the book, use these or similar questions to generate discussion, enhance comprehension, and develop understanding of the content. Encourage students to refer back to the text and photographs in the book to support their responses.
If you use literature circles during reading time, students might find the following suggestions helpful in focusing on the different roles of the group members.
There are many resource books available with more information about organizing and implementing literature circles. Three such books you may wish to refer to are: Getting Started with Literature Circles by Katherine L. Schlick Noe and Nancy J. Johnson (Christopher-Gordon, 1999), Literature Circles: Voice And Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups by Harvey Daniels (Stenhouse, 2002), and Literature Circles Resource Guide by Bonnie Campbell Hill, Katherine L. Schlick Noe, and Nancy J. Johnson (Christopher-Gordon, 2000).
The following questions or similar ones will help students personalize their responses to the book. Suggest that students respond in reader’s journals, in oral discussion, or in written form.
Other Writing Activities
You may wish to have students participate in one or more of the following writing activities. Set aside time for them to share and discuss their work.
ELL/ESL Teaching Strategies
These strategies might be helpful to use with students who are English language learners or who are learning to speak English as a second language.
Use some of the following activities to help students integrate their reading experiences with other curriculum areas.
Review with students that some of the celebrations described in the book take place during certain seasons. Point out that the seasons affect how people live in terms of the food they eat, clothes they wear, and activities they engage in. Discuss why spring and fall in particular might be seasons for celebration.
Provide drawing paper and have students trace large circles on the paper. Demonstrate how to divide the circles into quarters, one for each season. Have students label the quarters with the season names. Suggest that they draw or cut out pictures from magazines that represent celebrations in each season.
Review with students the variety of hats, headpieces, and masks people in the photographs are wearing. Suggest that students use these as inspiration to create their own ceremonial headpieces. Provide appropriate materials such as fabric and fabric trimmings, yarn, feathers, colored paper, foil, paper bags, beads, and anything else that might inspire students. To simplify the activity, have students make basic headbands or paper bag masks which they can then decorate. Be sure to have a celebration to display and admire the finished items.
Point out that many celebrations involve dancing. Invite students to make up their own dances to celebrate occasions such as the change of seasons, winning an award or game, giving thanks for something, or marking the culmination of a project.
About the Author/Photographer
Jan Reynolds is an award-winning author and photographer whose work has appeared in many publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside magazine. In addition to Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures, Reynolds is the author of the Vanishing Culture series and Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming, also published by LEE & LOW BOOKS.
When not working, Reynolds is a passionate mountain climber, skier, and worldwide adventurer. She holds the world record for women's high altitude skiing and was part of the first expedition to circumnavigate Mount Everest. Reynolds lives with her husband and their two sons in Stowe, Vermont.
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Learn more about Celebrate! Connections Among Cultures
Also by Jan Reynolds:
Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming
Vanishing Cultures: Amazon Basin
Vanishing Cultures: Down Under
Vanishing Cultures: Far North
Vanishing Cultures: Frozen Land
Vanishing Cultures: Himalaya
Vanishing Cultures: Mongolia
Vanishing Cultures: Sahara
BookTalk with Jan Reynolds on Celebrate!
BookTalk with Jan Reynolds on Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life