Monday, July 9, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Henry Aaron's Dream (by Matt Tavares)

Henry Aaron had a big dream:  Be a big-league baseball player.  Even though he did not have a real ball or bat, he used whatever he could—broom handle, stick, tin can, rags tied together.  He only played in his yard, but he imagined he was in the big leagues.  It was the 1940’s.  There were no colored ballplayers.  Henry held on to his dream though.  In 1947, Jackie Robinson, a black ballplayer, began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Henry started listening to every game on the radio and reading everything he could about Robinson.  He learned that his hero had to overcome great obstacles, such as discrimination, bullying, and death threats.  They did not stop Robinson from following his passion, and it did not deter Henry either!  In his late teens, Henry began playing with a semi-pro team.  He had ups and downs as he worked consistently and meticulously on his way to the pros.  In the spring of 1954, Henry Aaron’s dream came true! 

I found this gem tucked away in the biography section, not getting the attention it deserves!  Tavares does a commendable job portraying Henry (also known as Hank) Aaron’s rise to professional baseball stardom.  In the Author’s Note section, he further relates the accomplishments (both in baseball and for civil rights) and obstacles he overcame.  The illustrations in this oversized book are stunning!  They are sweeping and vibrant, pulling you in to this inspiring story.   Henry Aaron’s story is inspiring for anyone pursuing a dream, but minority children may be especially moved by it as it depicts a young person overcoming great odds and persecution to make positive change.  I HIGHLY recommend Henry Aaron’s Dream for ages 5 and up. 

Teaching Opportunities:

  • Compare/Contrast:  Compare Henry (Hank) Aaron's career with either one of his contemporaries (such as Jackie Robinson) or a modern player
  • History:  Research and learn more about segregation and the civil rights movement
  • Math:  Learn how to figure baseball statistics and/or solve problems uses the chart at the end of the book (For example: What is the difference between his batting average in 1952 and 1962?)
  • Journaling:  Write about your dreams and the obstacles you might have to overcome accomplishing them
  • Reading:  Read additional biographies about Hank Aaron and other pioneer baseball players
  • Writing:  Write a summary of some aspect of Hank Aaron's life you read about, use at least 2 sources
  • Character:  Discuss the positive character qualities that Aaron displayed in his life and career (courage, perseverance, hard-work, positive attitude)
Visit A Curious Thing for a complete list of Non-Fiction Monday titles.  

1 comment:

  1. I am a huge fan of Matt Tavares but I haven't heard of this book yet. Will definitely try to find it. I also love how you incorporated quite a number of teaching activities for this book, that would be truly helpful for teachers. :)


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