Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Chair for My Mother
By Vera B. Williams

Awards: Caldecott Honor

This tender story is an all-time classic and a favorite of mine!!!

Book Talk:
Rosa, who lives with her mother and grandmother, tells readers a story that happened to her family all starting about a year ago. She and her mother were having a lovely day buying new shoes, only to come home to find that their apartment had completely burned!

Grateful that they were all safe, including Grandma, they had to start all over again…..with literally nothing---no furnishings at all. Neighbors, who had little more than they did, generously gave what furniture they could to help the family and indeed, the family started over.

Despite that generosity, the family still has no comfortable furniture. Rosa tenderly describes in detail how hard her mother works at the diner and how she has no way to relax when she comes home from her waitress shift.  "There's no good place for me to take a loan off my feet." says Mama.  One day, Mama brings home the largest jar she could find at the diner, and the three of them spend a year putting what money they can into the jar: tips from Mama, change from Rosa, and shopping savings from Grandma. 

After a year, there is enough money to buy a big, soft, wonderfully comfortable chair.  The chair symbolizes the love of the women for each other, the way they worked together to realize a dream and the strength of their beautiful family.

My favorite lines from the story:
“We shopped through four furniture stores. We tried out big chairs and smaller ones, high chairs and low chairs, soft chairs and harder ones. Grandma said she felt like Goldilocks in “The Three Bears” trying out all the chairs.”

Williams crafts the story with a storyteller’s voice: weaving her audience from the present-to last year- and back to the present again.  This is an excellent example for students to follow if they are writing a memoir.

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Reading Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reading Workshop Strategies: Analyzing, Inferring, Summarizing
Writing Workshop genres: Narrative Writing, Small Moment, Memoir
Curricular Themes: Families, Problem Solving

Information about Vera B. Williams:

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