The Summer My Father was Ten – Pat Brisson
The Summer My Father was Ten
Written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Andrea Shine
This book provides a lesson in restorative justice – learning to take responsibility by making things right when one has done something wrong. The story also emphasizes the importance of respecting the property and work of someone else.
A family tradition between a father and daughter begins as the result of the father’s actions when he was a young ten-year-old boy. While playing baseball with his friends, the ball rolled into the neighbour’s garden. Thinking it would be funny to toss a tomato to his friend instead of the ball, this decision results in the group of boys completely ruining the neighbour’s garden. Unable to apologize but feeling very guilty and remorseful, the boy is able to make amends when he takes responsibility for his actions. This leads to a friendship and tradition between the boy and the neighbour that, over the years, continues between the father and his daughter.
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- Ask the students to think of a time when they did something hurtful to someone else and felt badly or guilty about it. Have the students share. Ask them to think of what could have been done to ‘make up for that action’ or rectify the situation and make things better.
- Review the vocabulary to ensure students understand the meaning of the words
- After the boy finds the tomato in the garden, ask the students what they predict might happen if the boy throws it at his friend.
- We all have choices in life. How did his choice cause a problem?
- Have students pause and reflect on how they are feeling about the destruction of the garden. Ask them to think about their feelings hearing what happened to the neighbour’s garden. Have students share those emotions and tell why they might be feeling that way.
- Ask the students how they might have reacted if they witnessed someone ruining the neighbour’s plants in the garden.
- Have students predict the reactions of Mr. Bellavista when he sees his garden.
- Ask the students to pretend they are this ten-year-old boy and what they would do now that this has happened.
- Have the students think about the relationship between the boy and Mr. Bellavista at the beginning of the story. Then have them think about that same relationship as the boy was growing up and to the end. Ask the students how they felt that relationship changed over time and why.
- Ask students if they have ever made a judgment about someone before they got to know someone. Ask them what caused their relationship to change over time.
- Ask the students why they think the father tells the daughter about this story each year in the spring.
- Ask the students why they think it so important for this father to help Mr. Bellavista.
Fin’s Tales – Can You Help?
One day while practicing my shot I forgot to check my surroundings so I sent a puck flying through a window. It was an accident but I was afraid I would get in trouble. Did I run away and not say anything to anyone and pretend it wasn’t me?
No! I knew I needed to take responsibility. So I knocked on the door, explained that I had accidentally broken the window. I told the neighbour that while I did not have the money to pay for the window, I was willing to do some work around the yard to make up for my actions.
- Ask the students to think of a time when they had to take responsibility for something they did even though they might have been worried about getting in trouble. Ask them how it felt inside when they told the truth and accepted responsibility.
- Ask the students why it is important for people to do something to fix a problem that they were a part of causing.
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