Because Amelia Smiled

Because Amelia Smiled
David Ezra Stein


Stein, D. 2011. Because Amelia smiled. MA: Candlewick Press.

This is the story of Amelia’s smile and how it traveled the world, inspiring random acts in different countries, and how it comes back to her in the end. When Amelia smiles while walking down the street, it reminds Mrs. Higgins of her son, a teacher in Mexico, and she smiles while baking him cookies. Her son shares those cookies with his class, and it inspires a student in the class to become a teacher as well. From a dance recital in Israel to a free concert in Paris, from marriage proposal in Italy to a knitted scarf in New York, Amelia’s smile travels the world, bringing joy to all who encounter it. It inspired Pigeon Man Joe in New York to let his pigeons go, hoping his grandmother could see them wherever she was, but who saw them was Amelia it made her smile.

Quantitative Summary:
ATOS Book Level: 3.5
Interest Level: Lower Grades (LG K-3)
Lexile: AD760L

Qualitative Summary:

A wonderful story that both imparts the importance of positivity and kindness, as well as the concept of “small world.” The chronology is somewhat linear, although the end of the book could also be the beginning of the book. There is no real main character, although the action is set off by Amelia, if I was to define a main character it would be the concept of the “smile” that she shares. The act of kindness travels all over the world, which brings up some scenarios and words that the target audience may not understand initially (zumba).

Curriculum Tie Ins:

Teaching kindness and the importance of spreading it around. The way that we can influence people in other cultures, and the importance of learning about other cultures. There is a mention in the book of uploading a video that inspires girls in another country — this could be translated into an activity of sharing a video with a sister classroom in another country.


English/Language Arts

1.0   General Reading Processes: Comprehension: Students will use a variety of strategies to understand what they read (construct meaning).


1. Develop comprehension skills through exposure to a variety of print and nonprint texts, including traditional print and electronic texts

a. Listen to critically, read, and discuss texts representing diversity in content, culture, authorship, and perspective, including areas such as race, gender, disability, religion, and socioeconomic background

b. *Read a minimum of 25 self-selected and/or assigned books or book equivalents representing various genres

c. Discuss reactions to and ideas/information gained from reading experiences with adults and peers in both formal and informal situations

3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text: Students will read, comprehend, interpret, analyze, and evaluate literary text.

Author’s website:


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