Teaching Children's Literature

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis

Desmond and the Very Mean Word


Bibliographic Information: Desmond and the Very Mean Word, written by Archbiship Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by A. G. Ford, published by Candlewick Press, Somerville, c. 2013.

Lexile Level: 810

Synopsis: This book is based on a story from Desmond Tutu’s childhood.  When Desmond is called an ugly name by a group of boys he is deeply hurt and ends up calling them a name in order to get revenge.  With the guidance of his friend, Father Trevor, Desmond recognizes  his poor choice and, instead, takes the path to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Rationale for Classroom Use: This story could ideally be used to allow students to examine the main character, Desmond.  They could consider his actions and decisions throughout the story and how they lead to a change in him at the end.

Common Core Connection:

3.RI.3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.


About Kristen

I am an elementary school teacher with five years of experience in 4th and 5th grades. I am taking a year off from teaching to get my masters in Reading through the New Literacies and Global Learning program at NC State University.

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This entry was posted on June 20, 2013 by in Picturebooks, Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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