Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”
A few months back, a dear friend was facing a personal crisis. Her whole world had been flipped around, and everything she had planned for her future was scattered or lost. She was a mess, and she knew it. She was acutely aware that she wasn’t thinking clearly, and life-changing decisions loomed. Knowing what she was facing, her cousin offered her a weeklong getaway at his Lake Huron cottage.
When she came back, we met for coffee. “How are you?” I asked.
“I’m not good. Not yet,” she said, lifting her coffee cup. “But I’m better.”
“Tell me about it,” I said.
She had taken long walks, eaten copious amounts of expensive sushi, and slept. “And I read,” she said. “I got a check-out card from the local library and went every morning. I read, and read, and read some more. And then I took a nap, and when I woke up, I read more.” For the first time in a while, I saw her smile.
“I needed to step away from my chaos and find some perspective. I read everything from picture books to young adult fiction to adult memoirs—and it helped me figure out how to just get up.”
I thought back to different times in my own life when I haven’t quite known what to do next. A good solution, always, was to pause, step back, and read. Many of us have learned that binge-reading is a great way to recalibrate. It happens when adults sink into their summertime “beach reads,” when teachers fill summer hours with professional books that have stacked up throughout the year, when teenagers cope with the world by racing through an entire series of books.
When we come out of an intense, bury-the-head-in-books time, we find that the world is still there, still daunting and hard—but we have had the break we needed. We’ve managed to absorb the stories and perspectives of all types of characters. We’ve stumbled across quotes and advice we didn’t even know we needed. We’ve emerged stronger and ready for the good fight.
We’ve figured out what kind of character to be in our own personal story.
And that is why we love reading so much. It is always a comfort but it can also give us a personalized road map. It can also be a beacon of hope when we need it most.
This week we look at ways reading and writing can help students understand different perspectives in the world. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Long an avid reader, Jennifer Schwanke taught middle school language arts for six years before moving into administration at both the middle school and elementary levels. Jen enjoys thinking of more effective ways to present literacy to students at these vulnerable ages. You can find her latest thinking at her Leading and Learning blog.
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Erin Ocon discovers worldwide Cinderella stories are a wonderful tool for building community and cultural awareness in her seventh-grade classroom and with English language learners. Erin describes how she uses a range of Cinderella picture books with students, and provides an extensive booklist for expanding your library:
Kelly Petrin and Ruth Shagoury connect globes and children’s literature with a map theme to inspire young children to write more and include visual representations in their drafts. Although the examples are from a Head Start classroom, the booklist and activities are appropriate for any K-2 students:
Kelly Gallagher chronicles daily lessons and insights from a high school unit on mass shootings:
Franki Sibberson collects picture books that highlight refugee and immigrant experiences:
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“China is going to kill us all!” This quote from a student causes Matt Renwick to stop and consider how schools can use literacy to promote global understanding:
Did you know the average length of stay in a refugee camp is 17 years? That’s only one of the many astonishing facts Stella Villalba learned as she worked to learn more about the literacy needs of refugees:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski helps fifth grader Jack build a next-read stack of nonfiction, highlighting a variety of text features and historical references:
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills continue their series on independent projects with nuts and bolts advice on management:
In an encore video, English language learner Zerina talks with Ruth Shagoury about her growing confidence as a writer. She also talks about how her father encouraged her to write down her most poignant memory of war in their homeland, Bosnia:
That’s all for this week!