LITERATURE GUIDE
Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace
by Shelley Moore Thomas 

Themes: Peace, Diversity, CommunitySomewhere_Today_-_A_Book_of_Peace.jpg

Grade: pre-K – 2

Story Synopsis: People perform simple acts of peace and kindness to help others in their communities. Starting with the phrase “somewhere today… someone is…,” each page describes a peaceful action while displaying colorful photographs of people performing that action. Taken as a whole, the photographs show a broad diversity of individuals and communities acting peacefully. Page by page, the reader learns that peaceful actions can be simple, everyday, accomplishable tasks. Peace involves being kind to friends, learning new things, and caring for others and our environment.

Why We Love This Book: Peace and peaceful behavior are the foundational concepts of all Peaceful People lessons. Peaceful People are defined as people who show responsibility, caring, and self-control. We are each responsible for our own actions; we can choose to be peaceful every day. The words and images in this book present real-life examples of how children can show caring and responsibility through their actions. As an introduction to Peaceful People, this book helps prompt discussions about peace, the importance of our actions, and the simple things we can do each day to be peaceful.

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Learning Goal/Objective:

Students will be able to:

  • Define “peace.”
  • Give examples of peaceful behavior.
  • Discuss how peaceful behavior helps others in their community.
  • Create a list of peaceful behaviors they can do in school. 

Estimated Time: 15 minutes (5 min. to read, 10 min. to debrief) 

Before Reading:

  • Review listening procedures. (Listening Lesson)
  • Review Voice Levels: Voice Level 0 during reading; Voice Level 1 during Turn-and-Talk.
  • Show students the book cover and read the title. Ask students what they think “peace” means. Have students make predictions about the book based on the title and cover photos.

During Reading/Active Engagement:

  • Select 3 pages to discuss during reading. Lead a whole-group discussion for the first selected page, addressing the following questions:  What are the people in the pictures doing? What do you think they are feeling, and how can you tell? What makes this a peaceful action? For the second and third selected pages, have students turn-and-talk to discuss with a classmate.
    • Suggested pages for discussion:
      • “Teaching his little sister to ride a bike.” (Caring for others)
      • “Planting a tree where one was cut down.” (Caring for our property/environment)
      • “Learning to do things a different way.” (Caring for self)
    • When possible, draw connections between the displayed actions and examples from the classroom (for example, after reading about teaching a little sister to ride a bike, discuss helping a classmate with his work). 

After Reading:

            Discussion questions to reach Learning Goals:

  • Look at the faces in the photos throughout the book. How do you think the people in these pictures are feeling? (Happy, having fun, loved, cared for, etc.)
  • Define peace: Peace means caring for yourself, others, and things around you. It means you don’t hurt others, yourself, or property. Peace feels good, comfortable, safe, calm.
  • All of the pages in the book show people doing something peaceful. What are the things they are doing? (Focus on the actions taking place on each page. List student responses on chart paper.)
  • The subtitle of this book is “a book of peace.” What makes these actions peaceful? (The actions show others that you care, they help others, they make others feel good, etc.)
  • When we talk about peace, we talk about the things we say and the things we do to show that we care about ourselves, other people, and our stuff. We use our S.T.A.R. Power to act peacefully, and acting peacefully makes our S.T.A.R. Power grow bigger. (see S.T.A.R. Power Lesson) What other things can we do – in school, at home, in our communities – to use our S.T.A.R. Power and show that we care? (Generate a class list of peaceful behaviors. Possible responses: say nice things to our friends, share toys, sit next to someone who is having a bad day, pick up garbage, hug your mom, etc.)
  • What if people DID NOT act peacefully? (Choose a few pages from the book and ask students what might happen if the people on the page chose to act in a different way. For example, what might happen if the doctor did not care for the child? What might happen if nobody visited a friend who is old? Possible responses: people would be sad, people could get sick or hurt, etc.)
  • Were the actions in this book difficult things to do? (No.) Is acting peacefully something difficult that only certain people can do? (No.) Choosing to act peacefully means using our bodies and our words in a way that shows people that we care. It is something each of us can do every day. 

Follow-up Activities:

  • Class Book
    • Ask students to think of other peaceful behaviors to complete the saying: “Somewhere today…”  Brainstorm as a class, then have students write their own. Students then illustrate each saying. Compile all the pages and assemble into a Class Book.
  • Peace Drawing
    • Choose one or two pages from the book, and write the text on the board for students to copy. Students draw a picture of themselves performing the peaceful action.
  • Peaceful S.T.A.R. Chart
    • Cut star shapes out of colored paper, or get star-shaped stickers. Use your list of peaceful actions as a behavior check-list, and tell students that each time they are caught using their S.T.A.R. Power and doing one of the listed actions you will place a star next to that action. Challenge the class to see how long it will take to fill the whole poster with stars.
  • Writing Prompts: “A time I acted peacefully was…” “I can help others by…”
  • “You Are Special” Circle (Activity Guide)
  • Peace Senses (Activity Guide)
  • Peaceful Behavior Demo (see What is Peace? lesson)

Click here for printable version

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