Every year for my birthday, my daughter searches the shelves at her favorite indie bookstore, Market Block Books in Troy, NY, to find just the right picture book for me. This past year she chose, Uma Wimple Charts Her House by Reif Larsen and Ben Gibson. My daughter is an engineer; she has always loved math, science, organizing and making charts and lists. In addition, she has always loved to read! I think she felt a connection to Uma and knew that I would recognize a bit of Uma in her when she was a young child. I certainly did and I couldn’t wait to share Uma with my fourth graders.
Reif Larsen explains how he got into maps, charts, writing and the story of Uma Wimple in this great video by Random House Kids.
My students had some great things to say about the story:
- I like the colors that she uses in the charts
- Uma makes a lot of food charts
- She is creative
- Uma is very observant and pays attention to many people
- I think charting helps Uma relax
- I can relate to Uma when she is panicking
- My family is important to me too, just like Uma realizes how important her family is to her
I was so impressed with the many messages that they interpreted from the story:
- Perseverance is the message
- If you dream it and believe it and you never give up it will happen
- It’s okay to make a mistake
- Anything is possible with a growth mindset
- Nothing is impossible if you find your way
There are multiple curriculum connections to make with this story; math, writing, and most importantly, the social/emotional lessons that are possible are endless. I know that my fourth graders will be wondering what happens next with Uma, will there be another book? I think that with time they will be able to answer that question for themselves, especially when they realize that Uma’s story is a story for all of us ABOUT all of us. I am so thankful that my daughter shared Uma’s story with me this past birthday. It brought back some wonderful memories for me from when she was younger. I wonder what she will find next year and I can’t wait to find out!