Recycle Your Reads blog
"Reading and teaching biographies is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I absolutely love this genre. I especially like to share lives of people who are not who I grew up reading about. One of my college professors called them “old, dead, white guys” jokingly; but she was absolutely correct. Highlighting people that young readers can actually say, “Hey, he/she looks like me,” is really important. Seeing themselves in a biographical character might be the only reason a reader even tries out a biography.
That’s why I enjoy sharing about Dorothea Lange. A strong and accomplished woman during a time when it was difficult for women to be so, Lange’s lasting legacy will be enjoyed and studied for generations to come. I have shared the biography Restless Spirit: The Life and Times of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge many times. But Migrant Mother offers something much different.
Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression shows the reader six photographs that exemplified a time in the country like no book or article ever could. Migrant Mother walks us with Dorothea as she swings back around to the pea picking farm against her better judgment since it had been raining. We see, like she did, the hastily arranged lean-to with a mother and three children sheltered underneath. We learn about the ten-minute (ten minutes!) session with the silent subject and her daughters, and truly see the artistry that lies behind the eternal pictures Lange snapped on that eventful day.
I was surprised to find out that the subject that Lange made famous, the woman who became the face of the Great Depression, felt that she had somehow been cheated by the photographer. I found it fascinating, too, to learn about the many trials and tribulations Florence Owens Thompson (“Migrant Mother”) went through during her life. This brief biography taught so much about the art form of photography, the desperate times in which people found themselves in during the 30's and one woman who was able to document the time behind a lens.
Interestingly, the photograph Lange became famous for is one in which I routinely turn to year after year to teach inferring. I have found that my students have little or no background knowledge about Lange or the photo, so it is a wonderful tool to ask what might be happening in the photo and for my readers to back up their thoughts with text evidence. They are excited to learn about Lange and her work after the inference lesson, and many students turn to the biography section or the history section of our library to learn more about the life and times of Dorothea Lange. I’m excited to have another title to share with them next year, and excited that the book focuses in on just the Migrant Mother. I think my students will be equally as pleased, too
http://www.recycleyourreads.com/?p=2648" - Recycle Your Reads blog