About the Book…
After the holiday season, we tackled our first Silver Birch book, The Glory Wind by Valerie Sherrard. The book reminded me of The Bridge to Terabithia even though I only saw the movie and never read the book. The typical story of a cautious boy who becomes enthralled by a girl full of life (aren’t they all?) who moves into the small town of Junction. The small town is also home to many small minds that shun Gracie and her mother, Raedine, when the legitimacy of Gracie’s birth is questioned. Throughout the book you meet some weak people, some strong people, and some who are sitting on the fence about the issue. It’s wonderfully sad tale about inspiration, loss, and retribution.
What We Did…
To get the ball rolling, I handed out my Glory Wind Crossword so they could reacquaint themselves with the book. This book was fairly new, so I again created my own Glory Wind Discussion Questions. The girls really participated, probably because the subjects of peer pressure, fitting in, and bullying are so relevant to their daily lives. Everyone had a story of how they had been shunned or witnessed someone else being shunned because they were different.
Fitting in is so important at this age, especially for girls. The Gracie character is inspiring – she stands up for her friends, doesn’t care about being part of the ‘in crowd’, and keeps a brave face when people are cruel to her. I wanted to find activities that focused on the concepts of prejudice, gossip, and bullying. Using those search words, I came across some interesting websites:
- Understanding Prejudice: Elementary School Classroom Activities – This site has a wealth of ideas for ways to show we are all the same inside and not to judge a book by its cover. I used the “When Life Hands You a Lemon, Peel It” and “People Tags” activities. All the activities from this site are included below.
- eHow: Games to Teach Kids Not to Gossip – While I was peeling the lemons for the activity above, the girls played the telephone game (an age-old game showing how a simple statement can get twisted around into nonsense). It was fun and they all had a good laugh. And I had time to peel seven lemons as fast as possible!
- It’s My Life by PBS – This is a terrific website! We all loved PBS Kids when our children were younger, but did you know that they have a tween/teen section too? Really dynamic with relevant, fun online games to address subjects like school, bullying, depression and gossip. I gave the girls two take-home pages (included in the Activity Sheets below) but what they had most fun with was the Rumor Control Game. They did pretty well and squashing rumours before they became gossip too!
I was hesitant when they chose this book because of the mature subject matter, but they never did ask me what a brothel was (thank goodness!) and they really focused on how unfairly Gracie was treated by both the children and adults of Junction. I know the girls in the bookclub were inspired by Gracie, but I hope they also feel they can emulate her as well.