Because it is baseball season (go, Tigers!) and because I just found out that I get to go back to New Jersey in September to teach a seminar for preschool and kindergarten teachers, this week I’m featuring a book about baseball written by one of my favorite Jersey girls.
Brothers at Bat: the true story of an amazing all-brother baseball team is written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno. In 1938, the twelve Acerra brothers formed their own semi-pro baseball team. With their dad as their coach, the brothers went on to win league championships four times, and earned a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the longest-playing all-brother baseball team. Salerno’s art perfectly captures the feel of the 1930s and 1940s. I love the photo at the end of the book showing all the brothers in uniform.
More than just a book about an interesting bit of baseball trivia, the heart of this story is how the brothers were a team for life, both on and off the field. “As the younger brothers grew up,” Vernick writes, “the older ones shared playing time.” When Alfred loses an eye due to a bad bounce of a baseball, his brothers work with him so he can rejoin the team. “He was a pretty good catcher for a guy with one eye,” one brother says. You can discuss with your students all the examples of teamwork in this book to hit the Common Core State Standard of Key Ideas and Details. Talk about teamwork in your classroom. Your students can each make a “baseball” card for themselves, and even team uniforms with white t-shirts and Sharpie markers! Take your students outside for a game of catch with the little bouncy balls from the dollar store. You’ll build hand-eye coordination, cooperation skills, and a sense of teamwork in your classroom. Play ball!
Audrey Vernick has a curriculum guide with lots of discussion questions and ideas on her website: audreyvernick.com. On Steven Salerno’s website you can see some of the illustrations for this book in process: stevensalerno.com.