As in any classroom, our kids are as unique as their fingerprints. To try and capture them collectively is challenging as they are forever trying on new identities, growing and changing. But one aspect of the myriad students who first pass through the door of my classroom that remains constant is that they do not understand the importance of stories. We know that stories shape the world. They reflect who we are and why we matter. But to them, the stories are words on a page that mean...well, next to nothing. This is how they come to us. But it's not how they'll leave us.
Somehow, at some point in our time together, something akin to magic happens with our students.
They learn that engaged reading goes far beyond decoding words, even beyond making meaning of those words. And one day, they discover The Book that sparks a love of reading. They find themselves (gasp) choosing to read for an entire class period. Then they read three more books in a row. They reflect out loud about wishing they could read books like this in their other classes. In short, through reading choice novels, they discover the power of stories.
The care and feeding of a classroom library is a constant and necessary task for teachers invested in growing lifelong readers. As responsive teachers, we want to stock our shelves with titles and topics our students want to read. Reading diets are particular and personal, so it is our duty to ensure our collection has a variety of genres for our students to choose from.
Our students need books to challenge their thinking and broaden their perspectives; to give them complexities to grapple with as they continue to shape their worldviews.
Gun violence. #Metoo. #Blacklivesmatter. The experience of war. These (and so many more) are some of the issues our students are working to understand. Relevant texts bring context and depth to these larger topics and help build empathy and compassion in our students.
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