My first read-aloud in fourth grade is an amazing book by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock called Gifts From the Sea. This snippet of historical fiction reels kids in from the first shocking and highly emotionally-charged sentence: "A northeast wind was blowing the day we buried Mama on a hill overlooking the sea." Your entire class will be on the edge of their seats, riding the emotional roller coaster with Quila from the first to the final pages of this book.
Quila MacKinnon lives alone with her now widowed dad on Devil's Rock Island, off the coast of Maine. Quila's dad is the lighthouse keeper and they live a lonely life there in 1858. When Quila finds a living baby strapped between mattresses and washed up on the shore, life for her little family changes so much for the better. They name the baby Celia, which means "a gift from the sea".
One of my students last year who asked me with tears in her eyes on the first day why I had chosen such a sad book to read to our class was the first one who came to the carpet for read-aloud every day thereafter, begging me not to stop reading! I promise that you and your students will fall in love with this book!
I was fortunate to meet the author several times, and my favorite part of her presentation is when she tells the students how the story came to written. She was working in her studio on another project when Quila's persistent voice was heard in her ear over and over, saying, "Tell my story. Tell my story now!" You can use this juicy tidbit any way you choose! Was it an idea for a character that was so strong that the author could concentrate on nothing else until that story was told, or was it something more? Perhaps a voice from beyond?
This particular book can be related to Keep the Lights Burning, Abby by Peter Roop, which tells the true story of a horrific storm off the coast of Maine and the bravery of a young girl in the lighthouse. Can also be related to a study of immigration in the 1800's particularly the plight of those fleeing the Irish Potato Famine.
I love to use this read-aloud as a springboard to Historical Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction book clubs. For a complete resource to get your Book Clubs started, take a look at my Book Club Survival kit, which includes Historical Fiction reading lists for grades 3 through 5.
I have found that my students love to hear what I'm reading outside of school. A grownup book that is closely related to the story in Gifts From the Sea is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Emotionally charged, and worth taking a look at!
You may enjoy using these resources from Rainbow City Learning as you make history come alive in your classroom!
So excited to share this post with a special group of blogging friends! Sharing is Caring!