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Oct 12 / The Teacher Geek

Mentor Text Monday: Encounter

Just like I believe in celebrating birthdays all month week, you can celebrate federal holidays all week, too. If you teach upper elementary or older, today’s Mentor Text Monday (I know, it’s Tuesd

ay. I was observing the holiday, sheesh.) is a perfect mature, Columbus Day Week read-aloud if you are trying to go beyond the NiƱa, Pinta, and Santa Maria: Encounter by Jane Yolen.

Did I mention that David Shannon illustrated this book?  More reasons to love!

Did I mention that David Shannon illustrated this book? More reasons to love!

Internal dialogue: Jane Yolen, there she is again. She’s awesome! Last week’s Owl Moon, now this week! Do I smell an author study? I wonder if she’ll be my Facebook friend? Ok, stop thinking out loud and get back to the blog.

The genius of this book is that Columbus’ landing in the New World is written from the TAINO NATIVES’ POINT OF VIEW. Not only is this book a good choice for a book about Columbus Day and what it really means, but it’s also fantastic for inferring.

Take this excerpt, for example:

…and I watched how the sky strangers touched our golden nose rings and our golden armbands but not the flesh of our faces or arms. I watched their chief smile. It was a serpent’s smile – no lips and all teeth.

Ooooo, this is getting good. Students must infer things like “Who is the chief?” (Columbus). “What does a serpent’s smile tell you?” (He’s sneaky like a snake.) “Why did he smile it after touching the gold?” (He wants it for himself.)

How about this one:

So it was we lost our lands to the strangers from the sky. We gave our souls to their gods. We took their speech into our mouths, forgetting our own.

This books is so beautifully written, it make me want to weep. This book silenced my 5th graders by the end, then I found them writing furiously in their journals afterward.

Modern revisionist history often conveniently leaves out the fact that Columbus landed on an inhabited island. When we study history, it is essential that we look at different points of view to be able to truly understand. Encounter brings us closer to that understanding.

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