Title: Ellis Island (A True Book)
Author: Elaine Landau
Schu’s Rating: 4 J out of 4
Ellis Island consumes my thoughts. This may very well be one of the best informational text for children. It is part of the Scholastic “True Book” series. It opens by informing the reader that everything he/she is about to read is true except for…1. Millions of people had their names changed on Ellis Island because inspectors could not understand them. 2. An immigrant could get sent back across the ocean for having an eye infection. Both questions hook the reader and develop a reading purpose. (Which question is false?)
There is a simple explanation of the steerage section, the area at the ship’s bottom. As many as 2,000 people crowded together. There is a comprehensive chart on page 19 that shares the following information:
*A passenger and his belongings had to fit in a narrow bunk.
*Mattresses were filled with straw or seaweed?
*Floors were often covered in dirt and vomit.
*As many as 300 passengers shared two bathrooms.
*Passengers ate small portions of meat, bread, and potatoes, scooped from large kettles.
*Passengers played cards, sang, danced, told stories, and practiced English.
My students will enjoy the “Getting Around the Island” graphic on pages 24-25. It explains each section of the island. (The island is broken into Island 1, Island 2, and Island 3.) The following sections are discussed:
1. Baggage and Dormitory Building: Immigrants left their heavy baggage in this building. They proceeded to dormitory bunk beds. The beds held immigrants who didn’t have permission to leave the island yet.
2. Cafeteria: Here immigrants had their best meal since leaving home. Some tasted ice cream for the first time.
3. Ellis Island Hospital: Sick immigrants were cared for at the hospital. Three hundred and fifty-three babies were born here. (Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom takes you inside the abandonded hospital buildings.https://mrschu81.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/ellis-island/)
4. Stairs of Separation: Doctors watched immigrants as they climbed the staircase. They looked of signs of illness, such as sweating or shortness of breath. People with these signs had to have a more detailed checkup. Approximately 2% of immigrants were not admitted because of sickness.
5. Registry Room: Inspectors interviewed millions of immigrants in this room. Immigrants waited, often for hours, for their turn.
6. The Kissing Post: J This was the last stop for new Americans. Here, they had reunions with relatives already living in America. There were tons of tears and kisses!