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Baseball in April and Other Stories

Last updated Monday, October 26, 2009

Author: Gary Soto
Date of Publication: 2000
ISBN: 0152025731
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2009

Synopsis: Insightful about the characteristics of early adolescents, Soto tells 11 short stories about everyday problems of growing up. Latinos in central California are the focus of the stories, but the events are typical of young teens anywhere in the United States. The main characters try out for Little League teams, take karate lessons, try to get the attention of the opposite sex, and are embarrassed by their grandparents' behavior. These day-to-day events reveal the sensitivity, humor, and vulnerability of today's young people. The descriptions and dialogue are used to advantage, helping to create and sustain the mood. A glossary of Spanish terms is included. Young readers should easily identify with the situations, emotions, and outcomes presented in these fine short stories. From School Library Journal.

Note to readers:
•  Spanish words and phrases are defined in the back. Also, this is a book of short stories, read Broken Chain; Baseball in April; The Marble Champ to start.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you like baseball?
•  Who’s your favorite team?
•  Have you ever played baseball?
•  What’s your favorite position?
•  Can girls and boys play baseball together?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you exercise at home? What kind of exercises?
•  Why do you exercise? (to get “cut”; to stay healthy; for fun?)
•  Are there athletes or famous people you want to look like? Who and why?
•  If you’re not good at baseball or other sports, are there other things you do well? What? (playing crosswords/word search, cooking, crafts, drawing, marbles, jump rope, )
•  How important is it to win? Is it better to have fun?

Craft ideas:
•  Have the kids create their own fantasy baseball, football or soccer team.

Special activities:
•  Play a game—Thumb wrestling. Take 2 kids and have them join their right hands—use fingers and leave the thumbs up. See instructions
•  Play cats in the cradle—cut string and tie together to form a large circle. See instructions

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!