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During a training, a teacher modeled using this book; I was in tears by the end of it. I highly recommend this book to everyone, not just teachers. I think we can all relate to this book's theme and message!
Prior to reading this book to my class of third grade students, I wondered if the story would be too sad or "heavy" for them. Laura's mother has died and is dealing with her feelings for her step-mother. She has a "memory string" given to her by her mother with buttons that represent family memories. When the memory string breaks, she loses one of her most valued buttons, a button from her father's Army uniform that her mother had added when he returned from the Gulf War. My students loved the story and the wonderful illustrations. The story prompted many students to share their text-to-self connections relating to adjusting to a step-parent or dealing with the loss of a family member. We also did a writing activity involving their own memories and I had to give them very little prompting. The story had already stirred so many ideas and emotions in them, that they were easily able to write about several memories of their own families. I fell in love with Eve Bunting's writing after reading this book!
The Memory String is a wonderful touchstone text that lends itself to writing activities. As a member of the Louisville Writing Project, the book was first introduced to me and used in this manner by Synthia Shelby. Students create their own memory strings in a writing activity after being read the book. This can be done with all grade levels. As a literacy leader at Meredith-Dunn School in Louisville, I developed a lesson that I took to several classrooms in the school. Once students (and teachers) create their own memory strings, suddenly, they have all sorts of seeds of ideas for writing in various genres. It shows students that memories are not always happy and exemplifies the resiliency of the human spirit. My students were able to connect with the character, and with each others' memories, initiating more dialogue to help with their writing processes. Eve Bunting has written so many texts that can be used to faculitate writing as well as help children to make connections and to consider social issues and how they impact them their world and future. Susan Brokenshire-Prater
I enjoyed this book a lot. I think that it speaks to how difficult it is for all of us to accept new situations and how difficult it is to lose someone that we love. One of this girl's prize possessions is her memory string and as the story unfolds around it, we get to see her learn to accept the new turns her life has taken. I found it fascinating to go and research button charm strings of the past after reading this book and then help my daughters to create memory strings of their own. The illustrations are beautiful as well.