Thomas Talarico, author of “The Good Braider, An Educator’s Guide,” teaches English to immigrants and refugees at Portland High School in Maine. The “Educator’s Guide” makes the novel accessible to immigrant and refugee students, themselves, as they study to become proficient readers in English. Thomas links extension activities to Common Core Standards.
Detailed comprehension questions guide readers through the novel’s three parts. Project ideas invite students to look more deeply into themes of the book. One activity is to research and do a presentation about the many kinds of African braid. Another activity is on the very hard theme of rape as an act of war. I am very grateful to have Thomas’s experienced eye on the novel to offer ways to make the book accessible to readers and support them as they think about Viola’s difficult journey.
Thomas served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines where he lived with the Ifugao, a tribal minority who have terraced the steep mountain terrain and grow some of the country’s most delicious and traditional rice. Tom gets his inspiration from the many students who have shared their stories with him and have allowed him to be part of their young lives as they navigate high school and the multiple identities they are juggling. He is an amateur ethnobotanist and thrives on learning about plants when he travels. As a Fulbright-Hays scholar in Mexico and Costa Rica, Tom developed an ethnobotany unit for English Language Learners. Tom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments and/or questions.