In the spirit of a feverish week in sports, we’ll return to our Book Basket this week to review Take Me Out to the Yakyu, by Aaron Meshon. This 2014 ALA Notable Children’s Book illuminates the experiences of a growing number of children living between two countries and two cultures. In this story, one little boy shares his beloved sport of baseball, chock full of rich cultural traditions, with his “pop pop” in America and his “ji ji” in Japan. On parallel pages, illustrated in blue to represent American culture and red for Japanese, Meshon uses lively text and amusing illustrations to highlight similarities and differences on everything from ballpark food (peanuts vs. soba noodles) to cheers and stadiums. The final pages include a chart of baseball terms and other vocabulary in both English and Japanese. An author’s note at the end adds more baseball information to titillate true fans on both sides of the ocean. Meshon’s message permeates through the story. Although material circumstances may differ, human emotions are just the same across cultures.
“Take Me Out To The Yakyu” serves as a wonderful mentor text for teachers to model thinking aloud about an author’s purpose as well as drawing complex comparisons from text. Meshon compares baseball, language, and the two very different lifestyles depicted across cultures. Additionally, teachers can use this text to model how to read like a writer by noticing how the author uses text in different sizes, incorporates illustrations to add rich detail to the story, and blends special features, such as a comparison chart or an author’s note, to build reader schema. Furthermore, if used as a Read-Aloud, Take Me Out to the Yakyu can help build respect and community around the many cultures represented in a classroom.
This text will have wide appeal in the classroom and provides versatility as a mentor text. Preview the unique illustrations and colorful comparisons in this video of Take Me Out To The Yakyu.
Have you used Take Me Out To The Yakyu in your classroom? Do you have other sports-related titles you’ve used as a mentor text? Let us know what you think!