As part of our unit looking closely at characters, our class read Kevin Henkes’ book Sheila Rae the Brave. I mostly like the book and I do love how it perfectly fits into a lesson about how characters change in a story. My 2nd graders and I tracked the two main characters and looked at the events that showed bravery and timidity. They did really well in partner conversation, in sharing for the classroom chart, and in their final writing about the topic. They even did some extension writing to say why they would or would not want to be Sheila Rae’s or Louise’s friend, using evidence from the book to support their opinion. Overall, it was a great week of working with a quality text and I tucked away all the notes and copies of exemplary student work for use again next year.
And then I overheard a conversation between our school social worker and another teacher. The social worker was saying how much she hates – HATES – the story. “Just look at her dangerous behavior! And, she’s not brave, she’s mean! What a horrible character. I would not read that book.”
So now I’m like, yeah, she is mean!
But I’m not going to throw the whole lesson out.
I’ve added to my notes her reaction to the book. Perhaps a new character trait to discuss next time is “mean.” This sounds like a great springboard into a conversation about how sometimes people act mean when really they feel scared. Sheila Rae the timid, after all? I think many 2nd graders could relate.