Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Summer Is For Reading! Jabari Jumps

Oh, be still my heart! Jabari. 💓

I was lucky enough to be able to order a six-pack of Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall (2017) for our school's book room in the spring of 2017.

Teachers, if your school does not have this book, please remedy that!

This is one of those picture books that can be used on multiple levels for Kindergarteners through high school, depending on your instructional purpose. The text is deceptively simple. But don't underestimate Jabari!

For the littlest ones, it's a feel-good story about being brave, rich with family love. I read this to one of my second grade reading groups to test the waters (pun intended). K, a young man with learning and focus challenges who struggled to comprehend and retell most stories, told us everything after I read it to them. He told it all! Not just events, but feelings of the main characters, possible reasons - K made good inferences.

My favorite spread

Representation matters. In this 'simple' book about a little boy facing his fear of jumping off the diving board, bolstered by his father's love and support, K saw himself. He was literally quivering with excitement. This book mattered to him. (Not only that, but let me just point out the obvious - a functional Black family, a Black dad's love and care for his children, a Black family not just at the pool but taking swimming lessons, passing swimming tests - sadly, it's a thing that people think Black families don't do this - all of this matters.)

Above, you see my favorite spread. Look at those sweet characters - Jabari standing there just like little boys do, holding his daddy's hand. That baby girl's arm going around her daddy's back. Daddy has all his kid-care supplies in his backpack for the day.

And then read that last sentence. "But when his dad squeezed his hand, Jabari squeezed back." That is an entire mini-lesson's worth of instruction for third grade through high school right there! That is the pivot point in the book, the author dropping us a clue, the author's choice of character action - can your students analyze that sentence? Did they even notice it?  (This is CCSS R.5)

Those are the discussions you'd want to be sure to have with students reading about on Levels O - Z+ (mid-third grade and up).

You'll also want to use this book as a great model (because of its depth of complexity and its short reading time) for understanding the deeper nuances of character and theme with upper elementary through high schoolers. If you are a fan and user of Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book, Jabari Jumps would be a great mentor text for just about all of Goal 7 that marries character and theme.

Difference between plot and theme? Quick and easy with this book. Also from Serravallo's Goal 7, you can use this text for lessons on what we can learn from how characters treat each other, seed to theme, character change reveals lessons, secondary sages, aha moment, and titles (is "Jabari Jumps" literal or is there more to it?). All of these fall within CCSS R.2 and R.3, theme and characters. Great for small group lessons on all of these skills.

Look at the spread below. We've all been there.

But could we take that more than literally with this story? What could this be a metaphor for, both in the text and in the larger context of community, the world?

And then there's the art.

Look how Cornwall uses what looks to be old book text to form the city buildings. Why did she choose to do that? What is the impact on the story? The reader? CCSS Anchor Standard R.7.

Get Jabari Jumps. You'll love it as much as I do.

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