Growing up, I always loved to learn about our family history. I would love to sit and listen to my great grandpa and grandma as they talked about what life was like when they were kids. How they had it. Reading Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc. felt like I was stepping back and listening to their stories again. I felt like I was listening to someone talk, instead of reading a book.
Bessie's Pillow is a paperback book that is just under 300 pages. This is a young immigrant's journey to America. Linda Bress Silbert, the author, is the granddaughter of the main character, Bessie. Linda had started Bessie's Pillow as a memorial to her grandmother, but by the end it became a tribute to the American dream.
We first meet Bessie in Vilna, Lithuania in 1906 at the train station. This was the start of her journey, alone, to America. As she is preparing to say good-bye to her family, a neighbor approaches and asked if Bessie, known as Boshka at the time, would be able to deliver a pillow to her son in America. He had forgotten it when he made his journey. Little does Bessie know, but accepting this favor and taking the pillow will change her life forever.
We travel with Boshka over the sea to America, where she is given the more "American" name Bessie when she arrives. She is one of the lucky immigrants who came over with money, and therefore did not have to suffer as others around her. However, she still has her own struggles. We are taken along besides her as she finds her place in this new world.
The pillow that Bessie is to deliver, brings a change to her life. One that I did not expect, but am so glad that it happened. There were many times that I was laughing, smiling or even crying as I read this book. The reading was easy, yet full of information. It was written in a way that makes me feel as though I am right there. It brings the sights, the smells and the emotions right to me!
Not only do you have a great story about an immigrant's journey, but you also have Bessie's America! Bessie's America is full, and I mean full, of information, facts and numbers of what America was like at the time Bessie made her way here. The back of the book contains a lot of information, but the website has all of this and more! There is even a multimedia, interactive guide to the America that Bessie would have been entering.
On top of being a great read, Bessie's Pillow is a great resource for your homeschool when it comes to learning about the immigrants of America. The easy to read format makes it great for middle to high school students and Linda was thinking the same thing. That is why there is a Teacher's Guide to go with this book! This Teacher's Guide will give you the resources you need to make this book work in part with your Social Studies and Language Arts lessons. There are ideas for class discussions, book reports, research papers, even a timeline of events and a glossary of terms!
I loved this book! I love the resources that I find to go with this book! Even though we are studying a different time-period right now, I still have Moe Man reading his way through the book and working with him on the discussion questions right now. I plan to also have him pick one of the Research topics listed and we will spend the time working on that after he finishes his reading. This book is perfect for anyone who wants a great book to read as well as any teacher, homeschool or public, who wants to bring the immigration story to life for their students!
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