Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Off to Class

Off to Class
written by Susan Hughes
2011 (Owl Kids Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Booktalking

It's easy to take the opportunity to obtain an education for granted. My wife and I are educators so the school day is a big focus of our lives every weekday. It doesn't often occur to me that we are fortunate that my two children can go to school each day. Off to Class, a collection of stories about schools around the world, will open your eyes to the desire of so many to have what I take for granted. The book is broken into three chapters with each chapter featuring several extraordinary schools. Chapter 1 is about schools that use their resources wisely and introduces readers to the concept of sustainability. Chapter 2 features schools that provide an education to students who normally may be forgotten or prevented from an opportunity to go to school. Chapter 3 talks about schools that are nontraditional in their approach to the school day. The first story is about Mohammed Rezwan who is an architect in Bangladesh. Monsoon season in Bangladesh creates floods that deny access to schools for many children. To combat this problem, Rezwan opened a boat to serve as a school. There are now 90 such boats which pick up students for three hour sessions. Solar panels on the boat create the electricity needed to power computers and a printer. It is this "can-do" spirit that permeates these stories. My students read about these boat schools in Time for Kids and were quite impressed.

Off to School is a terrific resource for students to compare their culture with other cultures. They will see how important an education is to people around the world and how this connects us as a planet. I really like the inventiveness of people like Mohammed Rezwan and Arnoud Raskin, who developed a classroom on a cart for the street children of Cartagena, Colombia. There is nothing wrong with studying inventors like Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, but I think it would also be great to focus on modern inventors who are solving problems in different global areas.

Other reviews of Off to Class:
Jean Little Library
Jen Rothschild
Wrapped in Foil


  1. Well said, Jeff. I came from the Philippines (before moving to Singapore nearly four years back) and the stories of children (those coming from remote provinces) on how they manage to go to schools each day never cease to amaze: some walk on foot for an hour each way, others take a small little boat. Lots of stories of resilience which I am sure a lot of children all over the world can learn so much from.

  2. I think this is the only book you've ever recommended that I don't have at my public library. It does sound like a great title, though. Hopefully, we'll be getting it.

  3. My wife's middle school class is using this to compare schools and discussing issues like social equity. Thank you Myra and Lisa for stopping by today!

  4. Isn't it an inspiring book? The stories stay with you, too..

    Thank you for the link.


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