The picture book, From Miss Ida’s Porch,by Sandra Belton, describes a summer evening gathering on a neighborhood porch. To the young narrator, this is “the best time,” a time when wonderful stories are passed down. This story would be a great one to read aloud to the class, maybe in a couple of sittings since the text is longer than in many picture books.
The parents and neighbors on the porch tell about the time when famous entertainers who came into town to perform stayed in the homes of black neighbors because they were not allowed to stay anywhere else. They tell about Marian Anderson’s famous concert at the Lincoln Memorial, quickly staged after she was refused the right to perform at Constitution Hall, and her performance in Constitution Hall years later. This book provides a great tie-in to the Civil Rights Movement for when students are studying that topic in History class.
It also provides wonderful examples of figurative language. On the back cover, Miss Ida’s porch is described as”blooming with stories.” When the youngsters on the porch doubt a story passed down from an elderly neighbor,they say that she was just “talking outta her head.” And the sound of Duke Ellington’s band is described as “a sound that made your feet get a life of their own.” Students will find more good examples of metaphors as they read or listen to From Miss Ida’s Porch.
There are also good examples of metaphors describing colors. The evening sky is “rosy,” a bedspread is “never-tell blue,” and the late night sky is”velvet black.”
Examples of similes in From Miss Ida’s Porch include, “like a doll on a string” to describe a young friend who never sits still, a booming voice that was “like a drum,” and stories that were “like fuel” for their imaginations.
For a follow-up activity to From Miss Ida’s Porch, students might try their hand at writing examples of figurative language. Similes and metaphors that describe colors might be a good place to start. Similes are usually easier, so kids could try those first, and then see which ones they can turn into metaphors. Here is an example for purple. A simile first – a sweatshirt as purple as Grape Kool-Aid. And then the metaphor – a Grape Kool-Aid sweatshirt.
To follow up on the history connection, there is a list of resources including books and sound recordings in the back of the book that kids might enjoy using for a little research.
Like the stories described in this book, From Miss Ida’s Porch is also a story that could be “like fuel” to young imaginations in the classroom.
Linked with these websites where you will find lots more good ideas: