Read Aloud, Book Chat, & Mentor Text


All He Knew by Helen Frost

259 pages © 2020


A novel in verse about a young deaf boy during World War II, the sister who loves him, and the conscientious objector who helps him. Inspired by true events.


Read Aloud: There are several ways to use this title as a read aloud. Teachers may want to consider reading a certain number of pages a day. While the book is broken into numbered chapters, the chapters are really one to three pages of verse so in some instances there is limited text on the page. To read the entire book will take approximately ten days. Another read aloud option is to read Part One which takes place from 1933 to 1942 then let students decide if they want to continue the title or encourage students to finish the book on their own. I could not put this book down once I started so students may encourage the teacher to continue reading.


Book Chat: While I almost always read a title before doing a book chat, here are the book jacket details to share. Henry has been deaf from an early age—he is intelligent and aware of language, but by age six, he has decided it's not safe to speak to strangers. When the time comes for him to start school, he is labeled ""unteachable."" Because his family has very little money, his parents and older sister, Molly, feel powerless to help him. Henry is sent to Riverview, a bleak institution where he is misunderstood, underestimated, and harshly treated.


Victor, a conscientious objector to World War II, is part of a Civilian Public Service program offered as an alternative to the draft. In 1942, he arrives at Riverview to serve as an attendant and quickly sees that Henry is far from unteachable—he is brave, clever, and sometimes mischievous. In Victor's care, Henry begins to see how things can change for the better.


Heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful, Helen Frost's All He Knew is inspired by true events and provides sharp insight into the many different ways we are capable of learning about one another--and about ourselves.


Mentor Text: This is an excellent choice to share with students how they, too, can tell their story in narrative verse. Point out to students how the author uses third person point of view along with speaking and internal dialogue to tell the story. Point out how the author uses white space and internal dialogue to create mood. Show students the Author's Note to extend the story then encourage students to try some of these in their writing.





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