Blog Posts

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea by Meena Harris

One of the bright spots of our current hybrid model is teaching a ‘Changing the World’ persuasive writing unit at first grade. This unit typically taught in the last quarter of kindergarten focuses on change-making. Initially student think of problems in their every day work and make posters and songs to encourage change. The young writers then move from posters to letters. These letters have a plea, reasons, and a possible ‘fix-up’ idea.

I have so enjoyed reading these first graders’ pleas from letting the pigeon drive the bus to real world problems like why we have so much trash on our playground. Young writers have explored how to get folks to turn out the lights when they leave the room, why using hand sanitizer is so important and so many other problems our writers may consider. I love so much about how students can see themselves as problem solvers, offer solutions, imagine change. This muscle-flex will lead some to be strong change-makers in the future.

Which leads me to my book suggestion for today. One of our ingenious first grade teachers found this book, written by Kamala Harris’ niece, Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea. In this fictionalized account of real events, Kamala and her sister see that their housing complex could use a play space. They discuss it with their mother, appeal to their landlord and neighbors, and persevere. The imagined letter, created with their peers, is pictured in the text.

A mentor text in a mentor text!!! This book highlights their idea, the growth of the idea in collaboration with their neighbors, problems solving, troubleshooting, and cooperation. This book has a lot. Written simply with a strong plot line, students may relate to the problem and the potential solutions. This may be a spark to community change in real life! A wonderful addition to any elementary class contemplating persuasion and change. A particular timely addition to have our newly elected Vice President as the protagonist.

Leave a Reply