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Thank you, EVERY responder, for the wonderful links and questions and ideas for 
using How Many Days to America, by Eve Bunting. I'm not sure how I missed her 
website, but I had. As a result of your replies, our 5th graders had a terrific 
time yesterday discussing pilgrims, leaving home, and freedom. I also encouraged 
during Thanksgiving vacation to ask (and possibly record) their grandparents/older 
relatives about their journey to America. A hit is below.
I am using the book next week as well. What I do is pretty simple, but I think 
effective. Our school is supposed to emphasize CRISS strategies for our students; 
so I have them complete a simple two column chart. We have one side pre labeled as 
pilgrims, the other doesn't yet have a title. The rows are labeled with such things 
as how they came to America, why, when, from where, hardships, etc. We brainstorm 
the pilgrim side together (activating prior knowledge), then read the story. After 
that I have them independently complete the second column of the chart. We discuss 
it as a group after they finish. We do this in about 40 minutes, so you can tell I 
have to keep things moving. 

I usually do this book with my third graders and I always begin by asking "Who are 
pilgrims?" to get them thinking...are they just strange looking old folks wearing 
black?  Anyway, we discuss that for a bit, then read the story, and then revisit 
the question.  It's always interesting to hear the kids' responses.

Eve Bunting’s book “How Many Days to America” is a personal favorite. I keep 
clippings of refugee boat stories from the newspapers in my own file and bring them 
out when working the story with older students. Dates spanning two decades convince 
me that the issues are real enough to keep the book in the ‘must read’ holiday 
 Houghton Mifflin has quite a useful teacher’s guide to the book on their website: 

There is always value in pulling your collection of Eve Bunting issue books (day 
laborers, Rodney King riots, Vietnam veteran’s memorial, trans-national adoption, 
homelessness) and talking about how picture books can speak to broad social issues. 

But for  5th graders, I would go beyond the book to current immigration issues, 
to Caribbean refugee issues, 
to orientation of the role of the US Coast Guard
to refugee assistance 
and piracy  but also a 
recent National Geographic article on piracy in the Malacca Straits:
By all means, use it with confidence.

Eve Bunting is one of my favorite authors.  I always read December to my 1st 
graders during December and you can hear a pin drop as I read.

Anyway, she is published by Houghton Mifflin and here is a link to some ideas for 
the America title.

This link should help.

        I am in a different situation than you, but I thought I would share just a 
bit of what I have done with this book in the past.
        One of the first things that the students and I do is a little research as 
far as what "Thanksgiving Day" is in various other countries. Here in Davao City 
for instance, we celebrate what is called "Kadawayan" in September and it is just a 
time of Thanking God for the harvest and is a huge week of festivals with lots of 
traditions wrapped up in it. Perhaps you could have the kids talk about some of the 
traditions that their own parents brought from other countries or find out if their 
ancestors came from a country where Thanksgiving may be celebrated in a different 
         Of course, we also have to have a discussion about "why" would people want 
to immigrate to the United States. I'll admit that since I work in a school with 
about 75% non-Americans this discussion can get quite lively and we have a good 
time coming up with pros and cons of leaving a home country to move to somewhere 
else. While the people in the book have a very valid reason for wanting to leave 
their home country, that is not always the case and that can be a part of the 
discussion also.
        The hardest part for me to read each year is when they arrive and people 
are standing around to welcome them. When the mother says "Perhaps people come 
every day. Perhaps they understand how it is for us," I burst into tears each time 
and the kids spend a lot of time talking about how they might welcome a stranger to 
their own home 
country and some of the important things that they would want to tell them and help 
them with in the first few days or weeks.
        Since you are from a Christian school I can also assure you that we do 
spend a little time in prayer for immigrants everywhere...

Gail Brubaker, Librarian
San Ramon Valley Christian Academy
Danville, CA    -

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