I just finished planning my first mini reading unit with the theme: Books are a window to the world. I was looking for fiction and non-fiction advanced picture books that will enable my students to experience how books can provide insight into places they don’t know about, or have never really explored. I compiled a great list of titles (the tricky part was narrowing it down to only 10), and one of the final few is Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier.
There’s so much to like about this one. The illustrations are rich, bright and full of energy and life. The text is simple, but the message is powerful. It is based on the true story of a girl named Beatrice whose family received a goat through Heifer Project International. If you don’t know about how it works (though I’m sure many people have heard of this sort of program), this organization provides an animal to a family in a developing country, along with training in animal care and agricultural practice, and the animal becomes a source of income and food. The income creates many changes in families and communities: schooling, medical care, clothing etc. Beatrice’s Goat isn’t just a story whose sole purpose is to provide new perspectives to privileged kids with very different life experiences. It is a sweet family tale, worth reading for the thoughtful writing and illustration.
Teachers should visit Read to Feed for more information about Heifer Project International and many classroom resources. Another outstanding program for educators that I was involved with last year is Life in Action, associated with Free the Children. Free the Children has a program similar to Heifer Project International, called Adopt a Village.
OK. Many, many links. But every one of them is worth visiting, I promise.
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier is published by Atheneum Books