Sunday, January 13, 2019

Carla's Sandwich– Appreciating Differences and Trying New Things

My class had a lot of fun and learning with Carla's Sandwich by Debbie Herman, illustrated by Sheila Bailey. Published in 2004, it is not a new book, but it was new to me when I spotted it on the website of my favorite publisher, Flashlight Press. How could I have missed it before? With quirky illustrations, and a storyline and dialogue that rings true to kids' ears, this book was a fast favorite for the kidpeople and me, too. Let me share what we did with it.

The sandwiches Carla brings to school are different, unique and creative... at least that's how she sees it. Her classmates deem them disgusting, gross, and sick, and after a while even spunky Carla is brought low by their lack of understanding and respect for her sandwich ideas. That is, until hunger steps in.

Before ever reading the book I asked kids what their favorite sandwiches were, listing them on the board. Ham came up most in the list of five favorites, to my surprise. Then I asked each child if they would eat all the sandwiches on our class list... Nope. Would then even try them? Nope. Even if it was a classmate's favorite, they weren't going to touch it.

And then as we often do, we checked out certain parts of the book, enjoying what we found at first glance. Well, look at that– the cover has a piece of bread with a girl... Carla, probably...  inside it. That's an interesting illustration idea. And look at those endpapers... we always check out the end papers.

And yes, the back flap has "About the Authors" information. All the best books include that.

We dug in and after reading the first half of the book, at which point all of poor Carla's sandwiches have been rejected by her classmates, I stopped and asked the class what they thought so far. They very much agreed that they wouldn't want to eat Carla's sandwiches because they were "really yucky." However, my kidpeople thought that the kids in the book were mean to Carla and "she should be able to eat any sandwich she wants," even if my kiddos themselves wouldn't eat it if she brought it to our school.

After reading the whole book my class thought it was good that the classmates in the story tried a new sandwich and were glad Carla felt better, but they were still pretty dubious about eating sandwiches like Carla's. I brought most around to the idea that at least trying new things was a good idea, even if you worried that you wouldn't like it.

We especially enjoyed discussing descriptor words like different, unique, creative, gross and disgusting. And wasn't it interesting that "sick" means ill, but a sandwich could be "sick" too. I love helping kids understand the nuances of words. And we didn't even touch on sick meaning awesome in slang... ai-yi-yi.

We also came up with other things to say when we didn't like something, words that wouldn't hurt somebody's feelings. You don't have to agree with people, but you can't be mean.

The next day I set up a sandwich bar for kids to make a sandwich for snack. I wanted them to try it, ultimately, so the ingredients were overall acceptable to kids, but the combination was still a challenge to most. You'll see in the picture below bread and peanut butter, cheerios, chocolate chips, banana slices and yogurt.

They got to put on varying amounts, but they all put on at least a bit of each, I think.

Then came the bigger challenge. Hmmm... should I try it?

Every one of my kiddos ate at least two bites, and most ate it all, in very enthusiastic fashion.

After our snack we talked about how Carla was brave because she kept bringing "creative" sandwiches for lunch, even when kids wouldn't eat with her. Being different is okay and we can all be different and accept others who do things in different ways. Their way might actually be pretty good in the end, if we at least give it a try.

I give Carla's Sandwich two thumbs up. Teachers will find both important concepts and story elements to teach. And it sure lends itself to hand's-on experiences with new foods.

I reviewed this book for Flashlight Press, receiving a free copy, though I bought another so we'd have two in class. I have been impressed with many Flashlight Press books over the years. Those editors have a great eye for books that kids love, and teachers and parents value for a slew of reasons. Click to see their books.

Much to my delight, I found Carla's Sandwich, along with quite a few other Flashlight Press books on Storyline Online. This site, sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, is terrific because each video features different actors reading a real book, which often are animated is some little way. There are over fifty stories to be found and all come with an activity guide.

Be sure to keep your eyes open for my next couple posts, because I am going to feature some tips about Storyline Online, including a freebie you'll want to have!

Well, hope you discovered a new book and got an idea or two. See you next time!

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