Children's Literature Reviews for Teaching History

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

Title: The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child    
Author: Francisco Jimenez
Category: First Person Account  

Topic: Immigration, Migrant Workers  
Grade Level: 3-7  
Students: A balanced mix of strong readers and struggling or reluctant readers 
Rating by: Ann B.

Historically Accurate?
(4) Yes and also includes historical notes, primary sources, etc.*
(3) Yes
(2) A few inaccurate or misleading portrayals
(1) Not a bit
 * This is a first person account.

An Engaging Story?
(4) Almost all students will beg to keep reading
(3) Most students will get caught up in the story
(2) Some students will read ahead by mistake
(1) Students will groan when the book is mentioned

Prompts Discussion?
(4) Students will still be talking about it in the hallway
(3) Will prompt discussion about major issues in the past as well as today
(2) Will prompt discussion about the characters and the events in the book
(1) Will not prompt discussion

(4) Everyone - even the most reluctant readers – can get on board
(3) Can be used for a whole class read
(2) Can only be used with a small high-powered reading group
(1) Recommend only to students that love reading

Age Appropriate Content?
____Too mature
_X__Just right
____Too simplistic

Comment from Ann B.:
This is an excellent book to inform any discussion about immigration and help students look at the issue from a different perspective.  Each chapter is a different episode from Mr. Jimenez's childhood, so chapters can be used as stand alone pieces, as well.  The chapter about the drawing of the butterfly is my personal favorite.  Also, this book focuses on the author's life when he was a small boy, but the second and third autobiographies Breaking Through and Reaching Out would be good choices for older students.

Amazon's Product Description:  

"'La frontera'...I heard it for the first time back in the late 1940s when Papa and Mama told me and Roberto, my older brother, that someday we would take a long trip north, cross la frontera, enter California, and leave our poverty behind."

So begins this honest and powerful account of a family's journey to the fields of California -- to a life of constant moving, from strawberry fields to cotton fields, from tent cities to one-room shacks, from picking grapes to topping carrots and thinning lettuce. Seen through the eyes of a boy who longs for an education and the right to call one place home, this is a story of survival, faith, and hope. It is a journey that will open readers' hearts and minds.

Link to Reviews on Amazon
Link to the book at Google Books
Link to the website of the author: Francisco Jimenez  (Mr. Jimenez's site includes study guides under "Related Learning Links")
Buy this book from your local bookstore via Indie Bound

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