Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson

My students love baseball, especially the boys.  Year in and year out, that’s a given.  One of the most popular players to read about is Jackie Robinson.  When I saw Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson in the Scholastic catalog, I couldn’t wait to read it.

This is a touching tribute to Jackie Robinson, written by his daughter Sharon. While it does explain his how he integrated major league baseball, it is really a story of a daughter and her father. We see Jackie as a father and family man in the story, determined to do the best for his children.

In 1955 the family moved to a 6 acre stretch of land in Connecticut. The children befriended the neighbors and spent hours swimming in their lake and exploring. Jackie spent a lot of time with them, but never went in the lake because he could not swim. But when the lake freezes over, Sharon and her siblings learn just how brave their father is. Because while they know he was extremely brave to integrate baseball, children rarely see their parents the way the rest of the world does. This story is a tribute to Jackie Robinson as a father, not just as a baseball player. And Kadir Nelson’s drawings are gorgeous!

*Review copy courtesy of publisher

Teammates by Peter Golenbock

Today I used Peter Golenbock’s Teammates for a lesson on inferencing themes with my 6th graders. I had never read Teammates before this week and I had no idea I was missing out on such a great book!

Teammates is the story of baseball player Jackie Robinson’s friendship with PeeWee Reese, a teammate who risked his career (and possibly his life) to stand up for Jackie when he joined the Dodgers.  Golenbock looks at a single moment in American history and turns it into a gorgeous narrative.  The story is illustrated in paintings and photographs.  The story is powerful and timely- one that every student should hear.

The subject of baseball, Jackie Robinson, and segregation is one that appeals to all of my students, and especially the boys.  They were thrilled that we were reading such a “cool” picture book.  And it lent itself so well to the lesson I had planned on inferring themes!  I highly recommend this one for all ages.

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