This week my mentor text is Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya. While certainly a popular book, it is not to be overlooked in its value.
I absolutely love this text, but be forewarned that it is an intense book and may not be suitable for all classrooms. You would have to make that judgment call.
This is a true story that takes place at a zoo in Japan during WWII. Due to all the bombs being dropped in Tokyo during the war, zookeepers were very concerned that the animals could escape and run wild through the city, creating even more danger. Therefore, it was commanded that all of the animals be poisoned to death. Unfortunately, because the elephants had tough skin and were too smart to eat the poisoned food, they were instead starved to death. The zookeeper loved the elephants so much that he tried to stall in hopes of saving the elephants.
This story is guaranteed to move you with emotion and compassion, and my students’ hearts are always touched as well, even in my elementary classrooms.
What I love about this story is that it is historical fiction. It is important to introduce students to a variety of genres, and I sometimes struggle with finding a good historical fiction book to use for my mentor texts. Second, I love how it moves students, even at younger ages.
It definitely inspires a plethora of discussion about values and the underlying message, which helps teach the importance of critical thinking and taking a deeper look. Furthermore, the vocabulary lends itself well to practice using the context to understand the meaning. Since we are always trying to incorporate good comprehension strategies, students can easily apply the questioning strategy, summarizing strategy, and infer/predict. This mentor text definitely should be considered.
Head to Amazon (aff. link) to purchase Faithful Elephants for your classroom today!
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