Monday, February 4, 2013

The Granddaughter Necklace, by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (ages 4-9) - celebrating our family history

Throughout America, our communities and families are becoming more and more diverse. I love sharing books that celebrate family history from a wide range of perspectives, because many of my students can connect to them. My students have especially liked reading Sharon Dennis Wyeth's new book, The Granddaughter Necklace, for the way it shares her discoveries of her own family history.
The Granddaughter Necklace
by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Arthur Levine / Scholastic, 2013
ages 4-9
available at your local public library and on Amazon
* best new book of 2013 *
Once long ago, a young girl sailed from Ireland wearing a necklace her mother gave to her. This necklace has been handed down from mother to daughter so they remember all of the women in their family. So begins this heartwarming story that traces a young girl's family story.

The story then switches to modern time, as a young girl admires her mother's shimmering crystal necklace. Her mother then begins to tell her stories of her grandmother and all the other women in her family who had worn this special necklace. Going back, generation by generation, Wyeth shares a slice of her family history. Children get a glimpse of American history, immigration and family stories. Throughout, it has the feel of the oral stories that inspired Wyeth.

Sharon Dennis Wyeth has always identified as an African American, but for many years she wondered about her family history. Through stories from her great-great-aunt and DNA testing, she discovered that her roots go back to Ireland and Africa.  Baram Ibatoulline's paintings capture the blending of family backgrounds and races in a way that children will be able to understand, perhaps recognizing themselves or their friends in the portraits. My students, many of whom have family heritage from many continents, connect to this aspect of this wonderful story.

We are celebrating African American history month throughout our whole school. I will continue to share some of the special books we are reading together.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers Arthur Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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