Baylor, Byrd (1986). I’m in charge of celebrations. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Plot Description: The story is narrated by a girl living in the south-western desert. People think that she should get lonely out in the desert by herself, but she laughs at the idea. How could she be lonely when she is the one in charge of celebrations. The narrator goes on to explain that it is true, when they are incredulous. She describes how last year she made one hundred and eight celebrations and details the amazing things she witnessed and experienced. Not everything merits a celebration. She is picky about what she writes down in her book. The experience has to make her heart pound and be something she wants to remember all her life. She goes on to share some of her celebrations and what she does to commemorate them, saving the most important, New Year (which comes in spring) for last.
Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 700L, ATOS Book Level: 3.9, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), AR Points: 0.5
Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told by a first person narrator (a girl living in the desert). The text is written in prose and includes themes of nature and recognizing its value. It is laid out in the typical way students have seen poetry, with line breaks and stanzas. The tone is conversational, but at the same time seems lyrical, due to the layout of the text and the choices in line breaks. Organization is clear and the language is mostly contemporary and familiar, though it may seem a bit unfamiliar because of the poem like layout of the story. Illustrations are used to support meaning of text, but are not necessary for understanding. The book explores several themes, some of which are subtle. The events and experiences portrayed will likely be unfamiliar to students. However, some may be able to connect with the themes of nature or recognition and celebration of the wonder in seemingly simple occurrences.
Content Area: English, Literature
Content Area Standard: English Language Arts Standards: Writing
Text Types and Purposes: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
CA CCSS Writing Standards K–5
Range of Writing 10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences
Curriculum Suggestions: Have students start their own journal to record the things worth celebrating that they encounter in their daily lives. Have students record words or phrases from the story that convey imagery to help them visualize the story. After a discussion of the senses have students make a list of the them and record words for each sensory category as they listen to the story.
Supporting Digital Content:
Character names/descriptions: The narrator is a girl who shares her special desert celebrations.
High interest annotation: Not everything merits a celebration. It has to be something that makes your heart pound and that you want to remember for the rest of your life.