Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting

Summary: Fly Away Home is the story of a little boy and his father who live in the airport. The book describes the daily living situation they experience: traveling from one terminal to the next based on flight schedules, returning luggage carts for spare change, trying to remain unnoticed from one day to the next. The little boy talks about his friends in the airport and the difficulties they face being homeless. One day a bird flies into the terminal and the boy cheers for it to get free, out of the confines of the airport.

Reflections: This is a wonderful book to introduce younger children to the concept of homelessness. It exposes the harsh realities of not having a place to live, but does not paint a frightening picture. Throughout the book, the boy is very positive and keeps hope that he and his father will rise out of this period in their lives. I think this sends a good message to readers, since the tone of the book is not depressing. I believe that children could begin to understand what it is like to be without a home without assuming homeless people live in cardboard boxes.

How would I use the book/curriculum unit: This book would serve as a great start to a unit on community and homes. The boy and his father do not live in a house of their own, but they do have some place that they can think of as their home. Students could get an idea of what sorts of things homeless people face. From there, students might go on a trip to a shelter or a soup kitchen to see how one group of people live. I have also used this book in a lesson on symbolism. The bird in the book symbolizes the little boy and getting free of the confines of the airport. I had my kids create their own symbols in their realistic fiction pieces that symbolized the desires of the character.

Domains of Social Justice:
1) Self-love and acceptance: Students learn to appreciate their lives and what they have, such as a home and a bed to sleep in.
2) Respect for others: Students learn to respect the lives that other people, be it different from their own. They will look past stereotypes of homeless people to understand that poverty is a real issue in the US.
3) Exploring issues of social justice: Students will begin to look at ways in which people are forced into poverty and the injustices that people face that result in homelessness.
4) Social movements and social change: Students will look at ways in which people have tried to deal with poverty in the US. They will see the successes and failures of such endeavors.
5) Taking social action: Students will begin to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty. They will talk to politicians and community members to help people in need.

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