6 Things You Should Know About Children’s Literature

Our last blog post! Wow, time really does fly. I have seen this format before on ESPN, and I have always thought that it is a pretty cool thing to do, so the fact that we are doing it for a class is pretty neat!

Here are six things you should know about children’s literature:

#1: It can touch on a variety of different topics.

If I absolutely HAD to sum up the basic plot behind every book that I read this semester, I seriously and simply could not. Literature is an extremely diverse aspect of our wold, and honestly children’s literature is no different. I read books this semester that touch on serious social issues, some that encourage the readers to stand up for themselves, and some that were strictly on different kinds of pasta…nothing else, just pasta. With that kind of diversity, how can we expect to find good reads for our classroom? It’s simple, we cannot stop reading after this class. We need to continue to explore the millions of topics that are included in children’s literature, and find the right book for every situation. Should be easy…right?

#2: Some books are silly, some are quite serious.

I probably cannot count on ten hands the amount of “silly” books that I read this semester, and to be quite honest, I loved just about every single one of them. It’s something about reading child like humor that just takes you back to when you were a child yourself. It’s very nostalgic. On the other hand, I read books this semester that were quite serious, and dealt with some real world issues, that in my opinion may be too advanced for children. There are books, though, that touch on issues such as racism and different kinds of people. These books were fantastic! The earlier we can teach our students about the rights and wrongs regarding race and gender, the better our society will become.

#3: It can teach readers various life lessons.

There are certain things that I know now, that I wish I knew as an elementary student. I firmly believe that a lot of students may feel that some lessons are just too complicated for students to know, and to an extent, I agree. However, there are some life lessons that can be taught through children’s literature. For example, many books touch on lying, stealing, cheating, etc. These are lessons that need to be taught from day one on. Too many children think it is just fine to lie to one another, steal others’ belongings, and cheat in numerous activities. There are many books out there that reinforce the fact that these things are wrong, and as teachers we also need to reinforce these lessons as well.

#4: It’s not just for children.

Wow, I was surprised by this, and not surprised at the same time…if that makes sense? I definitely expected there to be some adult humor and knowledge embedded in children’s literature, but I didn’t expect there to be so much! So many books I read this year were chalk full of adult jokes, and nods to grown up culture. Some even in books that I loved growing up! It was extremely fun to go through some of my favorites, and finding lines that flew way over my head when I was a kid.

#5: It is a tremendous classroom tool.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, children’s literature is chalk full of life lessons that are just waiting to be taught to students, so naturally I believe that these lessons need to be located in our classroom! I honestly doesn’t matter if you teach language, art, math, P.E.,or anything. Literature is an excellent tool to have. You can most definitely find books that fit your content area, and you can also utilize them to teach your students valuable lessons. If you are a teacher, or would like to be one, I cannot stress this enough: start collecting books now!

#6: It’s value goes way beyond the classroom.

This last “thing” on my list came from deep within my heart, truthfully, because it makes me think of my mom! She is a fantastic reading teacher, and has been for a long time. I simply have to credit her for any reading, and writing skill that I possess today. She taught me from the very beginning to value reading and writing, and to use it as a tool as much as I can. We can do the same for our children and our students. Sometimes all it takes is providing them with a book, or helping them with a word. These simple actions could spark something truly special, we just need to give them the opportunity to. If we simply give them the opportunity to read, they will surely understand the value of it, and how it can change their lives!

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My Top Ten Holiday Books

I know I have expressed this before in this class, but I absolutely love holidays. It could be pretty much any holiday, and you can bet that I will find something to love about it. There are so many opportunities that come with each holiday, and being teachers, this still holds true. We will have the opportunity each year to experience how each member of our class views each holiday, which will ultimately allow us to get to know our class better. With this, though, will come some controversy. Not everyone celebrates all of the holidays, so when this happens it is important to provide alternative lessons for those who do not celebrate.

I work in an after school program, and what we love to do is take each holiday and plan out a few days of activities that all relate to the upcoming holiday. You would be amazed with the amount of material on each holiday on the internet. There are literally thousands of ideas, right there for the taking.

As you may know, I am truly a sucker for art. So, naturally one of my favorite things to do with holidays is make various crafts that we can hang on our bulletin board. It has been one of my favorite things seeing each students take on what the holiday means to them. So with out any further explanation, here is my top ten favorite holiday books:

#10: “Arthur’s Halloween” written by Marc Brown

The classic Arthur! As DW wanders off while trick-or-treating, it’s up to Arthur to find her! This one was a fun read, and a good reminder of Halloween safety!

#9: “Froggy’s Halloween” written by Johnathan London

This story touches on the oh-so-important topic of choosing the right costume, and really how to enjoy Halloween even when things don’t always go your way.

#8: “The Bunny who Found Easter” written by Charlotte Zolotow

This was a fun one that actually touched on each season, which includes different holidays. The bunny is essentially hoping through the year in search for Easter, and he eventually….you’ll have to read it to find out :). Really though, this was a fun book and I definitely recommend it!

#7: “Clifford’s Thanksgiving” written by Norman Bridwell

You know how much you and I eat on Thanksgiving? Yeah, well can you imagine Clifford the Big Red Dog????

#6: “Clifford’s Halloween” written by Norman Bridwell

Clifford’s Halloween was a fun read! Just about as much fun as finding a costume for a massive dog!

#5: “Clifford’s Happy Easter” written by Norman Bridwell

Just like my last two entries, Clifford’s Easter adventure was a fun read to follow! The Clifford series has always held a special place in my heart because I can remember enjoying them when I was a child. I definitely recommend picking Norman Bridwell’s books up, he’s an awesome author.

#4: “Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico” written by Marie Hall Ets

A fun story of Christmas time, with a diverse twist in it! I definitely appreciated this book, I learned quite a bit from it!

#3: “Mei Li” written by Thomas Handforth

The only New Year’s Eve book on my list! This one was a fun one to read, and it also has a bit of a cultural twist in it!

#2:”The Egg Tree” written by Katherine Milhous

There isn’t much more in this world that is more special than the start of a tradition…you will definitely get that sense after reading this book. You could also create some real cool classroom art based on this plot, check it out.

#1: “The Polar Express” written by Chris Van Allsburg

What a story. I have loved this since I was a kid, and I probably will always love it. My inspiration for choosing this book definitely comes from my mother. She always has her class complete a fun lesson on this book/movie. There are so many fun things you can do with this!

My Top Ten Classroom Books

Literature is an extremely effective way to convey important messages to our students, and with the abundance of meaningful books out there it shouldn’t be to hard to fill our classrooms with books that contain lifelong lessons. In all reality, I am a pretty emotional guy, and I am a sucker for books that make me feel emotions I didn’t know that I had. I am a kid in that way, and I am sure that most students look for similar things with their books. Whether it make them laugh, or cry, or think, or shout…books are a great way to help our students grow into great individuals. Here is my list for top ten classroom books:

#10: “Working Cotton” written by Sherley Anne Williams

This book gives its readers an insight on working in cotton fields, however, it is told from a child’s point of view- which makes it even more interesting. It shows that with a positive look on life, things aren’t always that terrible. If we all adopt this outlook, we may just be a little better off.

#9: “Coming on Home Soon” written by Jacqueline Woodson

This story teaches us the importance of missing a loved one, and also going about our daily lives without them there. Patience is a key factor in this book, and with patience, we will be rewarded.

#8: “The Lemon Drop Jar” written by Christine Widman

You never know what will bring back memories. It could be a catchers mit, or a wooden spoon…or even a lemon drop jar. That’s the case for this book. A simple jar of lemon drops stirs up all kinds of fond memories for our characters.

#7: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” written by Roald Dahl

The classic tale that I am sure most of us know. This was really one of my favorite books of the semester, and I loved analyzing Charlie’s development…or should I say consistency. He is a boy we could all learn a lesson from.

#6: “I, Too, Am America” written by Langston Hughes

Seriously classic poetry by one of the all time greats. This poem of diversity and equality is one that should be taught in most classrooms.

#5: “The One and Only Ivan”- written by Katherine Applegate

I feel as almost all of the members of this class will have this on one of their lists, and rightly so! This was an excellent book that depicts what it means to be a true friend, keep a promise, and take your responsibilities quite seriously.

#4: “All Kinds of Families!” written by Mary Ann Hoberman

This was a great story that shows the readers exactly what the title suggests, many different families! As our world progresses, we may have students who come from a different family, and it is important to have our students understand that different is often just A-Okay.

#3: “Mostly Monsterly” written by Tammi Sauer

Such a fun book that follows a little monster, who just doesn’t like doing monster things. This one is a good reminder to students that sticking out is always fine.

#2: “The Giver” written by Lois Lowry

I did quite an in-depth review of this one earlier in the semester, and I still stand by my word: if we look at this story in a diverse way, it sends a great message that everyone being the same is not fine. It is extremely important for everyone to be their own person!

#1: “I Have a Dream” written by Martin Luther King Jr.

Four words that speak thousands more…Martin Luther King Jr. has continued to be an inspiration for those of color, and his words still shake foundations to this day. He was a great man, and we need to teach our youth to love like he did.

 

My Top Ten Reads of the Semester

The time has come, our reading for this class is over, and to be completely honest I am a bit sad! This has been a great experience. Reading is something that I have enjoyed doing throughout my life, but as I have aged I’ve transitioned into adult books, but this class gave me an opportunity to relive some great childhood memories! Now, onward to my first top 10…

#10. “Girls Can Be Anything” written by Norma Klein

This is an awesome story for younger students, especially girls who may be feeling confused about themselves, and society. Using real life examples, a young girl convinces her friend (who just so happens to be a boy) that girls can pretty much do anything they want with their life. I’d definitely recommend this for anyone! It was a fun read.

#9. “Arnie Goes To Camp” written by Nancy Carlson

The classic tale of summer camp horrors! I’m sure we all had hesitations about going to any camp when we were younger, Arnie felt the same; things actually didn’t go Arnie’s way for a while either. After he took some time to get used to being away from home, though, he found that camp is actually really fun! This was a great read, and could speak true to many young campers.

#8. “The Cat in the Hat” written by Dr. Seuss

Ah, the classic tale that I am sure all of us have read! This one comes in for me at number 8. I’ve always loved reading about the adventures the cat takes us on, and I am sure that this one will continue to be used in many reading situations.

#7. “Holes” written by Louis Sachar

This is one that I read for my reading challenge, and it’s one that I very much enjoyed! Another classic, with a classic movie to go along with it. This is the story of Stanley Yelnats who just has bad luck, and after a run in with the police he is sent to a camp where he is forced to dig holes. Oh my. This book can teach its readers about the importance of perseverance! Great read!

#6. “An Early American Christmas” written by Tommie dePaola

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Well, I love history and I love Christmas, so naturally I enjoyed this book! This one takes place during a neat time in our country’s history, and it’d be a great one to keep around during this time of the year!

#5. “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” written by Eric Kimmel

HERSHEL

I read this book one of the first weeks of class, and it has stuck with me throughout the semester! I love the courage of Hershel in this story, and his behavior is one that I think we can all model after. This is an excellent story of standing up for what you believe in!

#4. “I’m Not Moving, Mama!” written by Nancy White Carlstrom

As a child, my family moved around a few times, so naturally I kind of related to this one. In the end, I understood that everything works out just fine, but moving as a child can be tough. This book would be great for children during a move.

#3. “Corduroy” written by Don Freeman

This one is actually one of my all time favorites! It’s the classic tale of a bear who comes to life in a department store at night! He’s on a mission though. He has to locate his missing button! I’m sure you can imagine the trouble he finds, right?

#2. “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” written by Lemony Snicket

badbeginning

This is actually the latest book that I’ve read, and I am glad I decided to. This is one of my favorites of all time, and the rest of the series if fabulous as well. This is a tale of true strength and bravery, and I believe we can learn from the main protagonists of this series. Seriously, if you haven’t, check this book out!

#1. “Zen Shorts” written by Jon J. Muth

Seriously, you’re not going to find a cuter book than this. Not only is it cute, but there are some great lessons to be learned from the tales told by a…GIANT PANDA! No joke, this panda is definitely zen, and a wise fellow.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Ah here we are, the last Monday blog post we will have to do this semester! It’s a sad moment, yet a happy one. It has been quite the ride, and it has been great reading everyone’s blogs this semester! Onward to my last reading challenge post…

For the last week of my reading challenge I wanted to read a book that could be regarded as classic, or timeless, or famous, etc…but also one that I loved growing up, and still love today. I had to look no further than Lemony Snicket’s famous series: A Series of Unfortunate Events. 

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Now, this week I did not read all thirteen of the books, I only read the first one, but just a note: I have read all thirteen books. Anyway, what I would like to discuss is a topic that carries true throughout the entire series. As you may or may not know, this is the story of three siblings whose parents tragically pass away in a fire. Along with their parents, all of their treasured possessions are left behind in the rubble…sound awful? Yeah. Well it is really only the beginning. The children are sent to live with their distant distant DISTANT relative Count Olaf, who is really not too nice of a guy. He is pretty much interested in one thing: stealing the kids’ inheritance. His master plan is to essentially work the kids to the ground, and devise sneaky ways to get them to give over their parents belongings and money. This leads to, as you probably guessed, a series of unfortunate events. Throughout the series, the major theme is the children running from Count Olaf, and ultimately avoiding his plans. Thirteen books is a long series, and a lot of reading, but if you’ve got the time check them out!

What I would really love to touch on is the main protagonists in this series: The Baudelaire siblings- Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. In The Bad Beginning, we find these three immediately orphaned, and quite alone in this world. That is really enough to break a child down, and keep them there for a while. However, these three siblings are quite different. They are tough, they are resilient, and they aren’t going to quit and let a bad man ruin the rest of their lives. I very much admire the drive that these three siblings have, and what’s more impressive is the love that they have for one another. The older two, Violet and Klaus, always care for their younger sister Sunny. They are constantly looking out for each other, and ensuring that nothing horrible happens to them. From the start of the series, all the way through to the end, these guys had it very rough. It seemed as thought they could not escape the evil Count Olaf, and that he would haunt them for the rest of their days. However, their toughness, resiliency, and bravery kicked in year after year. They were able to survive the deviousness of their relative, and show him who’s boss.

Growing up I admired the Baudelaire siblings, and even today, as I have grown and witnessed the darkness that can fill our world, I still admire these characters. They give hope to their readers, and they serve as a constant reminder that no matter what happens, no matter how hard life can be, there is always a bright side, and if you find a source of strength, you just need to hold on. Eventually, everything will work out and be okay. This is a message that needs to be conveyed to many students, and if they’re unwilling to ask to hear that message, they need to look no further than Lemony Snicket’s series. Let the Baudelaires motivate our youth!

Mock Caldecott and Newbery

Hello everyone, I hope that your weeks were just as fantastic as your Thanksgiving were! I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had a blast this week researching mock Caldecott and mock Newbery. In all honesty, I have never heard of an event like these, but I am certainly glad that I know of them now! This is an awesome idea for a classroom, and I can definitely see myself doing something like this with my future class.

Going into this week’s readings, I did not really know what to expect, but in all reality, everything was pretty straight forward and self-explanatory. Mock book awards are pretty much just speculation, and it gives individuals who follow these awards closely a chance to share the books they believe should qualify/and or win the the awards. Sadly, I do not follow these events too closely, however that may change. The blogs we read this week gave me an awesome insight of what this is all about, and how I can use it as a teacher. They also provided a large list of books that we can read during our remaining time in the semester. I definitely appreciated Mrs. Schu’s blog post including her mock Caldecott, especially because she included the Caldecott terms and conditions along with it! We covered these terms and conditions earlier this year, but it was nice to refresh my memory. Her list as also extraordinary! It provided me with awesome ideas of what to read, and I even read some of them earlier this week. From her list I chose to find and read “The Night Gardener” written by the Fan Brothers, as well as “Samson in the Snow” written by Phillip C. Stead. I gave both a 5 star rating on my Goodreads account if you care to check it out! The Horn Book’s blog over mock awards winners was also pretty interesting because they included some other familiar awards, ones that we covered earlier this semester! The Caldecott was included on this blog, but the Siebert was as well! They also added in the Geisel award which is given to a book for beginning readers that captures creativity, and engages the reader’s imagination. This was awesome to learn about! The Horn Book, like Mrs. Schu, also provided nice lists and suggestions for reading! From these lists I chose to read “Flora and the Peacocks” written by Molly Idle (I read another one of her books earlier this year, she’s fantastic) and “The Sound of Silence” written by Katrina Goldsaito illustrated by Julia Kuo.

After completing my own research, I concluded that this is something that I would love to do in my own classroom. However, I thought of one snag: finding which books to provide the class with. After all, there are probably countless books that we could begin with. After looking around for a bit I discovered some useful tools from a familiar site…Goodreads! Goodreads actually has discussion boards for Mock Caldecott and Mock Newbery! I honestly thought this was extremely exciting, because it is essentially many people, just like you and I, sharing their thoughts and ideas about certain books. These discussion boards could be useful tools for us teachers should we ever decide to introduce Mock Caldecott’s and Mock Newbery’s to our classes! Here are the sites:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18027604-2017-caldecott-contenders

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/mock-newbery-2017

Harry Potter MOTW

HPMOTW (2)

If you could change one thing from the fourth film what would it be?

Warning: There are spoilers in my blog post!

Okay, if you’ve read the Harry Potter series, or at least seen the movies, you know that the fourth installment is kind of a turning point. It’s where the series transitions from “child Harry Potter, this magic world is new and fun, but let’s still go find some trouble lol” to some real dark stuff to be completely honest. The fourth book/movie of the series is when Harry really grows up, and fully submerges himself in the darkness that is to come in the rest of the series. I’ve touched on this before in an earlier blog post, and I will again right now: The Goblet of Fire is when an innocent student, Cedric Diggory dies at the hands of the Dark Lord Voldemort. This is seriously a traumatic event for Harry because he has to witness it, and while it is an extremely sad moment, I would not change this aspect of the storyline. This is the moment when Harry fully realizes what Lord Voldemort is capable of; it forces Harry to take some major steps in his maturation process and round up the troops to fight against the darkness that he knows is coming. It took and innocent life to be taken for Harry to get to this point, but he still got there, and Cedric ultimately provided Harry with a driving force for the rest of the series. His death was not in vain.

I would, however, change what happened to Mad Eye Moody…the real one. In the story, Professor Dumbledore hires a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (just like every year), and in the fourth year he hires his old friend Mad Eye Moody. Mad Eye immediately takes a heavy interest in Harry, and often shadows him quite closely. Towards the end of the book/movie, we learn that the person who Dumbledore hired isn’t really Mad Eye, instead it was one of Voldemort’s cronies who used Polyjuice Potion to disguise himself as Mad Eye. It was ultimately Mad Eye (Barty Crouch) who lured Harry and Cedric to the fateful cemetery where Voldemort was waiting to fully come back to life. Now, you may be wondering what happened to the real Mad Eye Moody for the entire school year? Well, he was locked in an enchanted chest. I say again…a chest! In the movie they actually show him curled up at the bottom of the chest, withered away to almost nothing. It’s actually kind of a disturbing sight, especially for young eyes. I understand that’s what happened in the book, but I mean come on…you don’t necessarily need to show us a beaten down man like that. It is pretty much torture depicted on screen, which I did not appreciate too much. However, Mad Eye ended up being A-Ok and making a full recovery which I was quite thankful for!

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

For this week’s reading I finally got to “Hatchet” written by Gary Paulson. Throughout the semester I have been reading various blogs and comments concerning this book, and how well it is written. Many students, from this class and others, praise this story and its sheer awesomeness. The major plot line of this story follows a teenager named Brian Robeson who survives a plane crash after the pilot dies of a heart attack while flying. The plane crashes somewhere in the Canadian wilderness, and Brian is left alone to fend for himself with only a few supplies, a hatchet, and his own skills, which are weak at best. A series of mistakes and just unfortunate luck leave Brian feeling like he won’t be able to survive, but as he gets the hang of things, his outlook begins to look much better.

Unlike many elementary and middle school students, I did not read this story growing up, though I often heard of how great it was. I’ve always known that Gary Paulson is a fantastic writer, and has written many classics, but I’ve just never attempted to read his works. I can say now though, that I have given him a shot, and I have given “Hatchet” a shot; much to my pleasure I’d like to say that I am very impressed! This story was well written, and while it is hard to relate directly to the situation, I believe there are some strong parallels we can make between this story and our own lives!

For these connections I’d like to take a hard look at our main character, Brian, who is a thirteen year old boy, which means that he would be in about seventh or eighth grade. Now, I’d like us all to think way back to when we were about Brian’s age, some rough memories? Yeah, middle school was pretty hard at times (or at least we thought it was). Brian was dumped in the middle of nowhere, with no help, and no way of knowing how to really survive on his own. In my opinion that is a rough situation for anybody, let alone a young teenager. I may be reaching a bit here, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that many middle schoolers have it rough, just like Brian. Hear me out now! I understand that most middle schoolers aren’t often put into life-or-death situations, but that may be how they view their own lives. Those early teenage years are critical to our growth as individuals, and unfortunately many students don’t come from great homes. The constant battle at home should be alleviated by the structure of school, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Cliques often form which results in the alienation of some students, and difficult teachers probably don’t help at much either. Self-harm and suicide are becoming more and more prevalent at younger ages, which should alarm us all. When we all know that life can be hard for many students, why wouldn’t we take every opportunity we can to make school a safe and loving community? My challenge to all of you is to take time, and comfort your students; help them escape the wilderness that many call life.

Author Visits

Sadly, I have never been involved in an author visit. My grade school, middle school, and high schools must have thought that meet and greets with authors were unnecessary in our educational careers, or they may have just never known how to set one up! Regardless of visiting with authors or not, I am thankful for the hard work that all my former librarians put in, and now I get the opportunity learn how to potentially initiate a meeting for my future classroom! What’s better than that? After much thought about author visits, I realized that one author I would love to visit with would be J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. If you have read my weekly meme blogs, you’ll know that each week I do a Harry Potter blog. I am a super fan, and I would love nothing more than to meet with her and pick her mind a bit…I’m sure that I could gain some really awesome insight on the series! I know that many young students are a fan of her work as well, and I bet they’d love the opportunity to meet with her and learn more about the magical world of Hogwarts! After poking around her website, http://www.jkrowling.com/en_US/, I have found that she unfortunately doesn’t make many trips to schools, but she often attends literary events at major conferences. I’m not sure if a professional conference would be an appropriate field trip for a class, but if all of the cards fall right, maybe there is a chance she attends some schools!

I mentioned that I never had the opportunity to experience an author visit, so I have never really considered why they can be used as an awesome tool for a classroom. After reading through Youth Services Librarianship’s article on author visits, I now understand that they ultimately give students a way to voice their thoughts on certain books. What used to be a private connection between author and reader, can now come to life. It’s vital that the readers get the opportunity to express how they feel about certain topics, and potentially relate to the author in the same way. Literature is meaningful to the readers in different ways, and if we have the opportunity to give our students a chance to express their feelings and connect with the author of their favorite book, why would we not give them that chance? A more new fangled way we can do this is via Skype! I know it seems crazy, using Skype, the long distance relationship video caller, but it really isn’t that crazy of an idea. Skype allows us to be in contact with authors even if they are unable to come and visit our school, or town. All the authors really need is a free half an hour at some point throughout the week! The advantages of using Skype rather than a face-to-face meeting is that you can meet with the authors from the comfort of your own classroom; you, as a teacher, don’t need to jump through as many hoops to load up your students and prepare them for a field trip, or coordinate with your librarian to occupy the library for the time slot. The bulk of your work with be connecting with the author and finding a time that works well for your class and the author!

What I found most interesting about this topic were the extreme benefits that come with hosting an author visit, especially for your students. Many students have special relationships with the books they read, and if they are able to relate with a character or situation, there is a really good chance that the book can make them feel better about themselves. We all know that growing up is hard, and sometimes those younger ages can be a struggle; some students find their solace between the pages. There is a chance that the author who wrote of a certain situation has sealed with that very situation before, and maybe they felt the same way that the student feels. Author visits give students the rare opportunity to connect the books that may make them feel good with the real world person who wrote what makes them feel good.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Hello everyone, and happy Monday! I hope you all had a great week of reading, and an even better weekend of relaxing! Last week, our topic was reading aloud, and I am super happy that we covered this topic, because this was one of my favorite parts of my reading classes growing up. When the entire class was reading the same book, I always felt a sense of unity, and wholeness. We were all working towards the same goal! One of the sites we were given was a great list of books that work well as read aloud books in a classroom, and I plan to hang onto that list for when I become a teacher! Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to read any books from that list, but I did manage to read some other books that may serve well as read alouds: “Guess How Much I Love You” written by Sam McBratney, “Grandpa and Thomas” written by Pamela Allen, and “Goodnight Moon” written by Margaret Wise Brown.

garden

The major book I read this week was “The Secret Garden” written by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book is an older one, being written in 1910, but I believe that it has stood the test of time. It is still regarded as a major children’s book, and it is still quite popular among many parents. The story begins with Mary Lennox, who quite simply, is a rough child to like. She is very self-centered and extremely brash, and really just kind of rubs people the wrong way. In fact, many of the servants appease her just to get her away from them! Needless to say, Mary is rough around the edges and could use a little polishing. It isn’t until her parent’s die, and she is sent away to live with her uncle that we first catch a glimpse of the real Mary. She is slightly more vulnerable, but still her same old self. While living with her uncle, though, she discovers a secret garden with a crippled boy living inside of it. After a while, she becomes so involved with the world around her, that she actively changes her ways, and begins to show affection to others, and her surroundings.

I really enjoyed this story! The growth of Mary throughout the book is so evident, and inspiring, that I believe any child struggling with self-worth should take a look through this book. It become obvious to the readers that Mary’s behavior is not exactly her fault- it was her neglectful parents’ fault. Mary felt unloved and unwanted which caused her to become so filled with rudeness. Once she submerges herself into the wonderful world of the garden, we see her personality grow just as the garden grows. It honestly wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have spiring teachers read this story. It strongly demonstrates what can happen with a child once we put them into a positive situation. It’s too often that a child’s home life isn’t too great, and their behavior often reflects their home life. It’s a must for teachers to provide students with a safe learning environment; one where students feel welcomed, safe, and loved. Once we can do this for students I believe we will see their happiness shine bright. So go ahead all you teachers, make your classroom a garden; watch your students grow just like Mary did!!!