I would use Encounter in a classroom social studies lesson to teach about culture. This book includes a number of lessons. It covers the history, culture, and appreciating diversity. It explains how people moved from one land to another, and how the people of the other land appreciated their presence. It also portrays an element of slavery where the writer narrates how he was taken away from his land. We also see the History aspect of people from the description of their shelters and hence, we can deduce their culture, “The young men left the shelter of the trees” (Yolen 3).
The story falls in the Culture strand of Texas Essential and Knowledge Skills. It reflects the culture of people, and how they are different from their visitors, “See how pale they are. No one can be that color who comes from the earth. Surely they come from the sky. … We did not know them as human beings, for they hid their bodies in colors, like parrots. Their feet were hidden, also. And many of them had hair growing like bushes on their chins” (Yolen 3).
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This children’s book can help teach culture and history of various peoples. It also helps the students to understand the contributions of various ethnic communities, races, customs, and traditions, “But it is our custom to welcome strangers, to give them the tobacco leaf, to feast them with the pepper pot, and to trade gifts” (Yolen 3). The book helps in teaching History by appreciating the origin of various groups of people their races, religion, and the whole element of slavery. The book also portrays the belief of the people in relation to dreams, “My dream is a warning. … All dreams are not true dreams, my mother says” (Yolen 2).
Jane Yolen is an American author and editor of fantasy and children’s books. She has other books apart from Encounter to her name. They include Sister Emily's Lightship and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight among others.
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