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About the Author: Cynthia Rylant has written several important children's books, a poetry book, a collection of short stories, and novels. Rylant is a prize-winning author; she received the 1992 Newbery Award for her novel, Missing May, the 1986 Newbery Honor Book Award for her novel, Fine White Dust, and the Caldecott Award for her picture books When I Was Young in the Mountains and The Relatives Came. She and her family live in Akron, Ohio. (Hmmmmm...maybe that's where the relatives lived!)
About the Book: A big, old station wagon overloaded with food, luggage, and a crowd of all shapes, sizes, and ages of people lumbers over mountain roads for a day and a night to unite two groups of relatives who live hundreds of miles apart. The visitors are welcomed with hugging and laughing, talking and making music, and the happy contented sharing goes on for weeks as the relatives delight in just "being together".
As school draws to a close, students and teachers breathe a deep sigh of happiness. This is an ideal time to prepare students for a worthwhile summer of continuous learning! Summer is freedom and a joyful time of relaxation-opportunity to do lots of things that the demanding schedule of a regular school year doesn't allow. Introduce the book, The Relatives Came as an opener to a classroom discussion about the exceptional opportunities the summer season has to offer. Make a class list of summer things to do, places to explore, adventures to pursue, and trips to take. Don't forget to introduce a summer reading list!
You will find a wonderful themed unit entitled "We Are Family" at Instructor Magazine's Theme Club. This web site has some fantastic ideas and it provides a wonderful tie-in to Rylant's book!
Tie in quilt making with the story. You will find some ideas at: Patchwork Literature for Kids
Your class might design a quilt depicted family adventures, summer fun, or favorite books for summer reading! If you are emphasizing family relationships quilts hold innumerable opportunities!
Ask each student to choose one of the following titles; s/he will create a written story accompanied by illustrations:
Have students illustrate a family tree.
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