Level: Elementary Reader (3rd to 5th)
Genre: Children’s Literature
Buy at Amazon.com: Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day
A little, cheerful African-American girl proudly shares her neighborhood with us on the day of a block-party. Children playing double-dutch; men debating in the barbershop; mothers and aunts cooking up oxtail stew and collard greens; friends and family swaying to jazz music in the streets ―these are the sights and sounds of the little girl’s lively neighborhood on a hot summer day. A deceptively simple, rhythmic tale that celebrates the diversity of a close-knit community.
A Flesch-Kincaid readability test analysis reveals that a child will have to have reached the fourth grade to be able to understand the words and phonetic elements in this text. The book has a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score of 79 (fairly easy.) By the fifth grade children should be able to recognize almost all of the sight words in the book. Larger or unfamiliar words (e.g. ‘Whist and the game of ‘Spades’) may need to be explained. At-or above-level readers should have no problem reading this book. Patterned text and high-frequency words make the book perfect for emerging readers and children will enjoy the rhyming pattern of the text.
- Neighborhood Tour- Take students on a walking tour of their school neighborhood. Have them predict what they will see, hear, and smell during their walk and fill out a Prediction Chart for checking predictions after the walk.
- Block party poster- Students can design a poster advertising a pretend neighborhood block party. What events, activities or performances will there be? Who’s invited? When will it take place? Students can also create labeled booths and act out the block party.
- Sidewalk games- Students can learn how to play Dominoes or Knockout Whist, the children’s version of Whist.
In My Opinion
The book is a welcome addition to the growing body of multicultural children’s literature, offering a positive portrayal of a diverse community cooperating and having a good time together. Riley-Webb’s vibrant illustrations add rich layers of detail and successfully capture the exuberance of the story and of the little girl’s view of her world. There is lots for children to notice and discuss in the illustrations. The poetic verses are evocative but perhaps a bit forced in some places. Overall, this is a promising first book from this author and a valuable addition to any classroom.
About the Reviewer
Summer Edward is a Ginkgo Prize-longlisted author and has written several books for young readers, amongst them The Wonder of the World Leaf, Renaissance Man: Geoffrey Holder’s Life in the Arts, and First Class: How Elizabeth Lange Built a School. Summer earned a Master of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more at summeredward.com