Thursday, November 8, 2012

Strega Nona

Year Published: 1975
Author: Tomie dePaola
Genre: Fairy Tale
Grade Level: Kindergarten to Grade 3
Theme: Responsibility, resourcefulness
Skill Taught: Italian culture

Summary: This book is about a helpful grandmother witch named Strega Nona, and her magic pasta pot.  One day, Strega Nona leaves town and employs Big Anthony to watch over her house and garden, and tells him not to touch the pot while she is away.  Big Anthony can't resist and begins singing to the pot, making enough pasta to fill up the house, as well as the town.  He doesn't know to blow kisses to the pot in order to stop it from making any more pasta.  Fortunately, Strega Nona returns and stops to the pot from making more pasta.  She hands Big Anthony a fork and makes him eat all of the pasta he made.  

About the Author: Tomie dePaola was born in Meriden, Connecticut on September 15, 1934, and developed at an early age a love for reading.  Throughout his school years, he enjoyed drawing and dancing. After graduating from high school, he went to Pratt Institute and practiced drawing everything.  His first job was to illustrate for a science book titled Sound.  About a year later, he wrote and illustrated his first book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin.  Over the past 40 years, Tomie has written over 100 stories and illustrated over 250 books.  (

For the Classroom

Pre-Reading Activity: I would have a K-W-L handout for the students, informing them the "K" stands for what students know, the "W" stands for what students want to learn, and the "L" stands for what students have learned.  Before reading the book, students would write any information they know and want to know about Italy.  I would walk around the room to make sure students were filling the cart out correctly.

Post-Reading Activity: After reading the book, we would explore Calabria by first locating Italy on a world map.  I would project pictures of Calabria's geography and inform the students briefly about the Italian culture, including a visual of the Italian flag, popular food, and a few Italian word (Strega: Witch, Nona: Grandma, Si: Yes, Grazia: Thank you, Libro: Book, Per Favore: Please).  The lesson would finish by students filling the last column of their K-W-L chart and sharing to the class something new they learned.

Reflection: Being Italian, I found this book enjoyable and a great way to incorporate culture into a book.  Depending how much time a teacher would like to spend with this book will determine how much they can teach students about the Italian culture as well as what makes all cultures unique.  The book teaches the lesson to be responsible, and gets the point across in a funny way.

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