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My Great-Aunt Arizona

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,446 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Reminiscent of the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, My Great-Aunt Arizona is an inspiring tale rich with history, family, and artistry. Based on a true story, author Gloria Houston's joyous recounting of her great-aunt Arizona's quiet yet meaningful life reminds us of the special place a great teacher can hold in our hearts—even after we've grown up.

Arizona was born in a log
Paperback, 32 pages
Published March 14th 1997 by HarperCollins (first published February 28th 1992)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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 ·  1,446 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I was thinking four stars, right up until the end when I had to bump it to five stars. It really "got" me ;-) I thought it was just a lovely, lovely book. I really enjoyed word choice and illustrations, both created such a sense of atmosphere and warmth. And Arizona seemed like an amazing teacher! I read this for the Back-to-School Theme over in Children's Books and, like other members, I was very impressed that Arizona was able/allowed to keep teaching after she married and I love tha ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ronyell by: The Picture-Book Club
"My Great-Aunt Arizona" is a biography about the inspirational life of Arizona which is written by Gloria Houston along with illustrations by Susan Condie Lamb and it is about the inspirational life of Gloria Houston's great aunt Arizona's career as a teacher. "My Great-Aunt Arizona" is truly one of the most inspirational books about teaching that both children and adults will for many years!

Basically, this is about the life of Arizona and about how she was interested in learning new things as a
A biographical sketch of the author's great aunt, this is an inspiring and simply gorgeous gem of a story. Gloria Houston narrative has a wonderful rhythm and cadence to it, a rhythm much removed from the stressful and at times frenetic pace of the modern world. My Great Aunt Arizona is sweet, caressing, even calming, and nevertheless manages to easily communicate much information and important messages (combined with Susan Condie Lamb's bright and descriptive illustrations, My Great Aunt Arizon ...more
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy stories about teachers and beautifully illustrated picture books
This theme for the month of September for the Picture Books Club at the Children's Books group is “Back-to-School” and this is one of the books selected. It’s one of only two I hadn’t read before its selection. I’m still waiting for Nareen’s Secret School. (The book for this month are The Junkyard Wonders, My Great-Aunt Arizona, Chrysanthemum, My School in the Rain Forest: How Children Attend School Around the World, Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, and, as an alternate ti ...more
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Stories About Teachers
Gloria Houston's My Great-Aunt Arizona is a delight from start to finish, presenting a biographical sketch of the author's aunt, a book-loving girl who grew up to be the teacher in her small Appalachian community's one-room schoolhouse, nourishing the minds and spirits of many generations of students. Named after the state of Arizona, where her older brother was stationed at the time of her birth, Arizona Houston (Arizona Houston Hughes, as she would one day become) was a girl with many interest ...more
Luisa Knight
It's a sweet story about a girl that grows up to be a teacher in a small, one-roomed school house.

Illustrations are adorably inviting!

Ages: 5 - 9

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it! Visit my website: The Book Radar.
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolutely beautiful tribute to a kind and loving woman who surely must have been an outstanding teacher. What an amazing accomplishment to have taught for 57 years and touched so many lives. How interesting that she dreamed of seeing many faraway places, but in the end came back to her home to encourage her students to go.

The illustrations were beautifully done, and gave a good feel for the country village that Arizona grew up in, the one-room school house, and the lovely plants
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
My great-aunt Arizona
was born in a log cabin
her papa built
in the meadow
on Henson Creek
in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

What follows is a brief but meaningful description of life in the late 1800s, which made me wish that kids could still have those hands-on experiences. But surely life wasn't all play! I wish that Houston had acknowledged some of her aunt's childhood chores.

At recess they played games like
tag and William Matrimmatoe.

William Matrimmatoe? I turned to the internet. Apparently, it a "cho
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teachers looking for inspirig stories
Recommended to Brenda by: The Picture Book Club
Shelves: picture-books
My Great Aunt Arizona was a wonderful book to read. The author’s story is about her great aunt Arizona, a teacher from the Applachian Mountains of North Carolina. It really took me back to watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie as a child. The petticoats, straw hats, bonnets, pigtails and overalls how adorable. I guess you could say I got caught up in the illustrations. It certainly portrayed the time period very well. I think this story may pique childrens interest if it was coupled w ...more
One of my favorites - I love the part about "Miz Shoes" because I have been "Miz Shoes", too! Reminds me so much of Christy by Catherine Marshall - could be paired together. ...more
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
"My Great Aunt Arizona" is a really good historical fiction book that can be used to a teach lesson on not letting dreams deter you from a goal but rather using those dreams to push you to do something greater. Although this may seem a little awkward to understand at first, I'll be happy to elaborate more on this idea. Arizona spent her life learning, going to school, and dreaming of the far away places that she would be able to visit one day. She worked hard to read books and even ride a mule t ...more
Crystal Marcos
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. The illustrations were lovely I had images of “Little House on the Prairie” pop into my mind. My 15 month old liked looking at this book too. I especially loved the dedication to “the most influential profession in the world”. Teachers certainly are influential. I enjoyed reading the details about Arizona’s life. Imagining making snow cream and maple-sugar candy was fun. I found it interesting to read that she and fellow students carried their lunches in lard buckets to ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful book, telling a bit of history by describing one woman's life story. It seems more like a true biography than a bit of fiction. And the illustrations are colorful and help tell the story. We really enjoyed reading this story together.

This book was featured as one of the selections for the September 2010: Back-to-School reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books group here at Goodreads.
Charming story for elementary school students about Arizona Hughes, an amazing educator who, I felt, prepared her students, from a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, to travel the world. "She taught students about words and numbers and the faraway places they would visit someday." I found this book to be quite touching and think that it could be used with students to give them a brief look into life in the past. This story could be tied in with a social studies unit and before a class might ...more
This is the story of the author’s great-aunt, who taught the author and the author’s dad in 4th grade, as she did numerous generations. It’s a beautiful story from Appalachia, about one-room schoolhouses and one teacher who went to school in one, and returned to teach there also. The author showed just enough details of this wonderful aunt’s life to bring many ideas of discussion out for young students. Nice book to have for primary classrooms.
Jill Culmo
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'd read this book to many classes of students. The heartwarming story of a lifelong teacher has always been a pleasure to read. Today I reread it several times as I was writing a series of lessons based upon the close reading of this text. I was reminded of a conversation I had with the author during my doctoral studies. I asked Dr. Houston what she would most like classroom teachers and students to do with her books. Her answer was simple and profound. "Just read the books and enjoy them!" ...more
Linda Bassett
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any teacher
I tear up every time I read this book aloud to my class. It is a touching story about teaching and dreams. It is a great book to compare with Miss Rumphius.
Jul 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
If you've ever wondered why people become teachers, this book might give you some insight. ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As and educator, this book inspires me each time I read it.
Erin Swinson
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My Great-Aunt Arizona is a wonderful biography about the author's great aunt growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Like another review I read it takes me back to when I would read books about Laura Ingalls Wilder or watch Little House on the Prairie. The writing and the illustrations made me want to be in that school-room with the teacher who "wore long full dresses and a pretty white apron. She wore high-button shoes and may petticoats too.". I would recommend this book to K ...more
Jeanie {}
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing

A sweet little picture book entitled, My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston is a story of a teacher named Arizona who loved to read and share the stories with her students. Although she was born, raised, lived, and died in the Blue Ridge Mountains; her mind brought her on many adventures! As she told the stories to her students, they would ask have you been there? and for fifty-seven years she replied, "only in my mind, but someday you will go."

I just love this story of an influential teacher
Kaitlyn Ramoie
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Telling the story of a girl's great-aunt named Arizona, this story tells about the life of Arizona and how she lived day to day. Arizona was a school teacher and spent her time leaving lasting impacts on her students. With meaningful text, and great illustrations, this is one of my favorite picture books and what has also encouraged me to become a teacher. Demonstrating through the illustrations, what a great teacher Arizona was, it is obvious that her great-niece is very proud of her and all th ...more
Arizona was born in a log cabin her papa built in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She grew into a tall girl who liked to sing, square-dance, and—most of all—read and dream of the faraway places she would visit one day. Arizona never did make it to those places. Instead she became a teacher, helping generations of children in the one-room schoolhouse which she herself had attended.

Reminiscent of the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, My Great-Aunt Arizona is an inspiring tale rich with history, family, and
Javon Brown
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Grades: Pre-K, K-2

The book My Great-Aunt Arizona is a nonfiction story about the life Arizona Houston Hughes and her tribute to many generations through her passion for reading books and teaching in her hometown school house. Arizona was known for being tall, reading often and growing flowers. After her mother passed away, Arizona took care of her father and brother Jim. Later after her father remarried, Arizona studied to become a teacher and returned to the school house to teach where she was
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is the perfect example of displaying a strong and determined woman. This book tells the story about Arizona, who as a little girl enjoyed many things with her little brother Jim. Everyone where she lived all attended the same class. One class for all grades. She loved school. After awhile she had to stop going, but that didn't stop her from accomplishing her dreams. She did a lot and helped a lot of people along the way. This is a good book about overcoming challenges and t ...more
Diana Turnbull
Apr 27, 2019 added it
Shelves: life
1. Awards the book has received: ALA Notable Children's Book
2. Appropriate grade level(s): 1st-2nd Grade
3. Original summary- A book about a young girl, Arizona who grew up in the country of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She aspired to travel, but instead became a one-room schoolhouse teacher. This book is based on a true story.
4. Original review- "My Great-Aunt Arizona" is a great way to introduce a non-fiction text about a certain period in history to young children. It is a heart-warming story tha
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and inspiring. A quote:

For fifty-seven years
my great-aunt Arizona
hugged her students.
She hugged them
when their work was good,
and she hugged them
when it was not.
She taught them words
and numbers,
and about the faraway places
they would visit someday.
“Have you been there?”
the students asked.
“Only in my mind,”
she answered.
“But someday you will go.”

Recommended for ages 5 – 8.
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Arizona is a teacher and it’s really relatable to me. I hope to become a teacher like Arizona some day. She affected so many students just because she was a caring teacher. The illustrations in the story are gentle. Light colors are used. I give this story 5 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was given this book in 1996 when I was student teaching. I was fortunate to work with a team who loved reading and made stories come alive for their students. This book remains a favorite. Like Arizona’s, my life as an educator took a different path than I expected, but I am thankful for the unexpected bends in the road.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
Kind of like a picture book version of Laura Ingalls Wilder + Anne of Green Gables. ...more
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Gloria Houston was a teacher and a native of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Ms. Houston taught students of all ages. Ms. Houston wrote several books for children, including the best-selling My Great-Aunt Arizona, illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb; The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; and LittleJim. She lived in Asheville, North Carolina.

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