Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1/10/2012 The biography

Ugghhh....another book report -- with clothespin doll! I HATE clothespin dolls. I swear, whoever comes up with these must be female and only have daughters. What 2nd-grade boy likes to make clothespin dolls?

And another book report, after so much freedom. This is on a historical figure in American history. The first day the report was announced, two-thirds of Julian's class chose their biography subjects from the school library right away. My experience with local libraries is that when the second grade is doing a book report, the books get wiped out fast. This is such a pain. Whine, whine, whine.

I talked to Julian about who he should do his biography on, and got Mr. Science all excited about Thomas Edison. Nope, taken. Benjamin Franklin? Nope, taken. I know -- Theodore Roosevelt! I'd read a biography of him and he's fascinating. Nope, taken! Argh!

I'd once read a kids' biography about the first woman doctor, but couldn't remember her name. Clara Barton? No, she was a nurse, or something like that. I suggested Clara Barton anyway, along with Daniel Boone, Meriwether Lewis and Sally Ride; and printed out short bios of each one for him to bring with him to school to pick his biographee (?). To my surprise, he picked Clara Barton.

Having experience with book reports, I've learned it's better to buy the books, rather than wait until the weekend and troll the local libraries in the hopes of finding a book. Then we're not stuck with return dates, the kids can share the book, they can mark it up, there are more choices, and it's usually a good book to have. And they're rarely expensive; under $10. So I ordered a few inexpensive kid-books on Clara Barton from Amazon, which arrived just before I left last week for NYC. (While doing so, I found that the person I'd had in mind was Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor.)

And Julian is all over it. He LOVES the story of Clara Barton. He read all 3 books quickly, and keeps talking about things she did, and asking questions about what it was like in the 1800s.

Recently he'd caught a bit of Gone With The Wind on TV with me, so we'd already talked a fair amount about the Civil War -- perfect background for learning about Clara Barton, "Angel of the Battlefield." In fact, that's why he picked her, because he wanted to read about the military battlefields. It turns out that all 91 years of her life were quite interesting, not just the 4 years she spent tending to soldiers from both sides, and he loves talking about it.

Julian even pointed out a drawing in one of his books of Clara Barton as a young woman, as a teacher, and said she looked really pretty. He said he liked her long dress and her curls. Ding! Now I know how we'll dress his clothespin doll!

For once, the book report is not a drag -- and actually, pretty fun. It's so nice to see that sparkle in Julian again. He had it so much more often when he was in preschool and kindergarten, usually around something in science or medicine, and I see it in him again with this. Though she died in 1912, Clara Barton is still saving people!


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