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Tomas and the Library Lady

Last updated Friday, December 14, 2012

Author: Pat Mora
Illustrator: Raul Colon
Date of Publication: 1997
ISBN: 0679804013
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2012

Synopsis: From School Library Journal
Tomas Rivera, who at his death in 1984 was the Chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, grew up in a migrant family. Here, Mora tells the fictionalized story of one summer in his childhood during which his love of books and reading is fostered by a librarian in Iowa, who takes him under her wing while his family works the harvest. She introduces him to stories about dinosaurs, horses, and American Indians and allows him to take books home where he shares them with his parents, grandfather, and brother. When it is time for the family to return to Texas, she gives Tomas the greatest gift of all - a book of his own to keep.

Note to readers:
•  Dr. Rivera's biography is in the back of the book. Share it with the kids after you're done reading!
•  From Dalet Brady, GLC at Politi: "When reading Tomas and the Library Lady, there will be discussion about the kids' local public library. Assuming they might not have library cards, I'm printing out the application from and making copies for the third graders. On the LAPL website, you can also enter each school's zip code and download a map showing the nearest branches of the public library. We can hand these out with the books they receive. " Great idea Dalet!

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is your school librarian?
•  Do you go to public library?
•  How do you pick books to read?
•  What are your favorite books?

•  Eager- impatiently longing for something.
•  Glaring- staring in a fiercely or angrily piercing manner.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where is Texas/Iowa?
•  Do your parents or grandparents tell you stories?
•  Do you remember first book you read or checked out from the library?
•  Why does Tomas hesitate before he enters the library?
•  Why does the librarian check out the books for Tomas?
•  What does Tomas miss most about the library when he leaves for Texas?
•  Do you get lost in or dream about stories you read?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a book of your own by folding up/gluing together paper . Make your own version of the book cover & inner illustrations. Write your own story that takes place in your library!
•  Cut out shapes to make a dinosaur or other creature that Tomas imagines.
•  Make a Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holiday card for your friends & family!

Special activities:
•  Have kids tell their favorite stories to each other and/or the group

*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!