Henkes, Kevin. 2013. THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 9780062268129 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-3]
This is the year of Billy Miller, and by all accounts it will be remarkable. Billy has entered 2nd grade.
THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER is told in 4 parts, each centered around an important figure in his life. We begin with “Teacher,” who Billy gifts with silver trinkets in honor of her name, Ms. Silver. “Father,” “Sister,” and “Mother” follow. Through each section this important character from his life helps lead Billy through a transformation, truly making it his year.
Billy’s reactions, emotions, perspectives on family and school will be familiar to the young readers. Each student entering the 2nd grade classroom (or any other grade for that matter) on the first day of school is filled with anticipation and excitement. In their world, the events that unfold throughout the year are exhilarating and noteworthy, even if they may not be for those watching from the outside.
In THE YEAR OF BILLY MILLER, Kevin Henkes captures the power of every day interactions from a second grade point of view, while creating an engaging and empowering story. If Billy Miller’s story is worth telling, if his story is exciting, then to a young reader, they may begin to recognize that their story and life is important too.
THE YEAR OF BILLY MILER would be an excellent beginning of the year read aloud for a 1st or 2nd grade classroom. These students are no longer the youngest in the school, but they are not yet school leaders either. Henke’s book would be a powerful way to prepare them for the year.
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