St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and a great opportunity to teach children about the Irish. Celebrated annually on March 17, children will likely notice the shamrocks, leprechauns and thematic ‘green’ while out in the community, watching their television shows and be curious to know more.
Award-winning author and illustrator Tomie dePaola provides Irish expressions and vocabulary, historical and religious references in his humorous and engaging Irish stories. He is half Irish and half Italian, and began writing stories for his sister when they were both children.
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Here are descriptions of Tomie dePaola’s Irish stories, ideal for this time of year!
Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato, packed with colorful, expressive paintings, is a classic folktale about a farmer who does not like to work. When he catches a leprechaun, he makes a wish that he believes will support his lazy lifestyle forever. Jamie O’Rourke did not think his wish through, however, and a giant potato threatens to unearth his home. He can’t get it out of the ground on his own and when it finally is freed, it traps everyone in the village. Is Jamie destined to be a slave to this massive ‘prattie’ forever?
There are some Roman Catholic religious references in the text but they are not central to the story.
A sequel to Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato, readers of Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka find that he continues to be lazy and with his wife away for a week when he is left in charge of the housework. Between Jamie and his friends, the cottage quickly gets messy. Jamie finds a pooka, or animal spirit, sneaking in and cleaning up after him as he sleeps. Feeling lucky and eager to encourage the helpful pooka, Jamie rewards him – but what happens when Jamie’s wife arrives home? Tomie dePaola’s story does not have a predictable ending, but light-hearted Irish phrases, beautiful pictures, a quick pace and a great sense of humor.
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland tells the true story of St. Patrick’s life, and also retells a number of legends associated with him. Children will not only enjoy dePaola’s vibrant illustrations, but the stories about St. Patrick getting rid of all of Ireland’s snakes, being captured by bandits and other adventures.
Are you a Tomie DePaola fan? What other St. Paddy’s stories do you read to your students?
Happy St. Paddy’s, everyone! Enjoy this free Pre-Emergent sight-word reader!
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