You Are Home is a must have for every elementary classroom. This book is so important for various reasons. First of all, the exquisite art makes readers feel as if they are actually walking through each national park soaking up the beauty that surrounds them. The paintings by themselves are reason enough to buy this book, but Evan Turk achieves picture book excellence because his words tell a different story than his pictures. His repetitive phrase, you are home, assure readers that this country is their home, no matter when or how they came to this country.
Repetitive phrases or again and again phrases as Kylene Beers and Bob Probst call them in Notice and Note are a powerful tool kids can use in their own writing. To teach this concept to my students, I pointed out that you are home is a bumper sticker phrase that Turk uses throughout the book, seven times to be exact, to assure readers that the United States is their home.
Turk is not the only author who has used a bumper sticker phrase to assure readers that they are part of an inclusive environment. Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman use the bumper sticker phrase All Are Welcome nine times to show readers that all students are welcome no matter what foods they eat, what they look like or where they come from.
Award-winning authors and illustrators are not the only people who understand the power of a bumper sticker phrase. This Kindness Speech by a ten-year-old girl has more than half a million views. She uses the bumper sticker phrase, be kind, ten times to convince her listeners that they can change someone’s life by making the choice to be kind.
Teachers can pair the two texts with the Kindness Speech to teach a powerful lesson about the impact of a bumper sticker phrase. Then, they can have students brainstorm their own bumper sticker phrases and challenge the students to use their phrase at least five times in a piece of writing. Not only will students produce some of the most emotionally honest writing they’ve ever produced, but their peers will empathize with them and feel understood in a way they haven’t felt understood before.
“Which one is your favorite picture?”
“I can’t choose.”
“I’ve been there!”
“Your height doesn’t define you.”
What is your bumper sticker phrase?
What is your class’s bumper sticker phrase?
Keep calm and write on!