Sunday, April 25

The Bridge of the Golden Wood by Karl Beckstrand

Karl Beckstrand is a prolific author of 30+ multicultural children's stories.  He has written stories that take place in a variety of countries around the world and has written stories in multiple languages.  Four of Karl Beckstrand's books have been featured on Kelly's Classroom Online so far:

🍎 Anna's Prayer (Sweden, United States)
🍎 Ida's Witness (Sweden, United States)
🍎 It Came from Under the High Chair (English, Spanish)
🍎 Great Cape O' Colors (English, Spanish)

Today's blog post is the fifth one about one of Karl Beckstrand's books... The Bridge of the Golden Wood.  The Bridge of the Golden Wood is a modern-day folktale/parable that takes place in China and that teaches children about the importance of helping others and saving money.  Keep reading to learn about this book and for some language arts and economics minilessons inspired by the book!

The Bridge of the Golden Wood by Karl Beckstrand is a modern day folktale about good deeds & helping others. STEM + economics + ELA minilessons.

If you are looking for the building bridges STEM activity, it has been moved to its own blog post.
Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author's Summary

“What are you looking at?” asked the boy.
“Trouble and treasure,” said the old woman...
A child with a knack for solving problems helps some hungry fish and is rewarded. This illustrated folk tale teaches children how to spot opportunities to help others and the value of saving their money. Endnotes have ideas for money-making activities for kids and a list of online resources.

🍎 Title: The Bridge of the Golden Wood
🍎 Author: Karl Beckstrand
🍎 Illustrator: Yaniv Cahoua
🍎 Publisher: Premio Publishing & Gozo Books
🍎 Date: January 25, 2017
🍎 Pages: 32

About the Story

The Bridge of the Golden Wood by Karl Beckstrand is a multicultural folktale that takes place in the forests of China. A little boy and his red panda are playing in the woods when they find an old woman sitting beside a stream. He asks the old woman what she is looking at and she replies, Trouble and treasure. The boy follows her gaze and sees a school of fish. The fish can't swim downstream because trees and branches are blocking their way. He sees the trouble right away... but is confused because he doesn't see any treasure.

The old woman sees his confusion and tells him he will receive treasure if he moves those trees and branches to let the fish swim by. So... he moves the trees and branches. When he turns to the old woman to collect her treasure... she's gone! The boy will eventually get his treasure... but he won't be getting it right away and it's not the kind of treasure he expects...

Language Arts Minilesson About Fables, Folktales, and Parables

The Bridge of the Golden Wood by Karl Beckstrand is a modern-day story that is told in the style of a traditional folktale or fable. It can also be described as a parable. Before reading The Bridge of the Golden Wood with your students, you may need to talk about the similarities and differences between a fable, folktale, and parable:
  • A parable is a short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson. The characters in the parables are human.
  • A fable also teaches a moral or spiritual lesson. However, the characters in fables are animals.
  • A folktale is a story that is passed down from generation to generation.
While I was reading The Bridge of the Golden Wood, it felt like I was reading a folktale... it felt like I was reading a story that could have been passed down from generation to generation. I asked Karl Beckstrand about this, and this is what he told me:

I typically didn't enjoy lessons growing up. But hearing stories... that was fun... even if I happened to learn something in the process. I wanted to show how helping is good for all involved, so a folk tale seemed the way to show it. -Karl Beckstrand, author

Language Arts Minilesson About the Moral of the Story

The Bridge of the Golden Wood is the kind of story that can have more than one moral or lesson... it is a parable. After reading The Bridge of the Golden Wood with your students, ask them what they think the moral of the story is. Do they think the moral of the story is about helping others? Helping animals? Doing good deeds? Do they think the moral of the story is about hard work or saving money? Give your students some time to reflect on this and to write in their reading notebooks.

I asked Karl Beckstrand what morals and lessons he wanted children to learn when they read The Bridge to the Golden Wood. This is what he told me... how does this compare to the morals and lessons your students came up with?

The story for Bridge of the Golden Wood developed in my mind as I thought about how few people seem to know that looking for ways to help is a way to gain earning skills. Even if you serve someone and don't get monetary compensation, you acquire problem-solving and other skills--not to mention the reputation of a helper--that can pay off down the road. -Karl Beckstrand, author

Economics Minilessons

When Karl Beckstrand wrote The Bridge of the Golden Wood, he wanted to teach children about the benefits of service-learning... helping or serving others to make the world a better place. He also plants the seeds for some economics concepts you can integrate into your social studies lessons and units:
  • Service learning: The boy helps the old woman, the fish, the people who cross his bridge, and his family.
  • Goods and services: The boy provides a service by letting people cross his bridge.
  • Opportunity costs: The boy gave up his playtime to help the old lady and the fish. When he did, he received something better in the long run.
  • Saving money: The boy saves the money he earns, so he can help his family.
  • Earning money: The boy earns gold by allowing others to use his bridge.
  • Spending money: The boy spent his earnings on the things his family needed.
  • Careers: Building and maintaining the bridge was the boy's career... his chosen way to earn money as he got older.
Can you think of any other economics skills that can be taught through The Bridge of the Golden Wood? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!

To learn more about The Bridge of the Golden Wood, please visit Karl Beckstrand's website at PremioPublishing. You can also watch the trailer for the book on YouTube.

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