Trendy Tuesday: We Are Shining

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For Trendy Tuesday, I chose the book We Are Shining written by Gwendolyn Brooks and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. This piece of children’s literature uses simple words and images to convey its message: celebrating all of our differences and similarities among people all around the world. Gwendolyn Brooks is a poet and this story is actually a poem. It was published in May of 2017 and is targeted at a kindergarten through second grade audience; however, I think that students of all elementary school ages could really benefit and learn valuable lessons from reading this story.

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Brooks spreads the message that everyone deserves to have hope and excitement for a bright future to children around the world. Because the words are fairly simple and broad, the illustrator’s pictures help show the reader the beauty of differences in people. Several different cultures and groups of people are represented in the story in various ways. For example, some pages have pictures of  diverse groups of children with huge smiles on their faces, while others illustrate particular cultures and customs. These pictures carry significant meaning in the story due to the highly simplistic, yet powerful language.

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The story begins by saying “Life is for me and is shining!” The illustration really brings these words to life with the beautiful colors and a confident, gentle girl and bird. The author further describes what a shining life is by describing the joy it should bring you. This joy may feel like “stars and sun and bells and singing.” Brooks describes how these feelings should be universal worldwide and in order to promote such happiness and joy we need to appreciate our differences. The way that the author positively accentuates the differences in people from around the world is truly beautiful. Brooks points out the similarities that exist among cultures, like the existence of a mother and father, which helps to shed light on our differences as well. There are so many kinds of people in this world and everyone deserves to celebrate life and be as happy as they can possibly be, which is a point that is effectively driven home in this wonderful piece of children’s literature.
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Emily Green

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