Because we are a Waldorf school, I have been my class's teacher since first grade, and many of them have been together since kindergarten.
In our time together, my class has been fascinated by the rich diversity of our school, city, country, and world.
Through the past four years we have explored this diversity with weekly nature walks to our neighborhood park and library, with biographies of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Mae Jemison, Estanislao, Biddy Mason, Dr. King, and others, with studies of world religions and mythologies, with folk songs and dances, and with the food and customs of our own families. To celebrate birthdays in third grade, the students each brought a food item from home and shared why it was special to them. These birthday foods ranged from flautas to stroopwafels to onigiri. The class loves discussion, and shows a budding capacity to hear and honor different perspectives.
This year, during their weekly literature circles, my students will have their first taste of the delicious discussions literature can produce. All they need are the perfect books! How I Became a Ghost will be one of ten books the fifth graders will read this year - one for every month of the school year.
Like the other books the students will read this year, How I Became a Ghost will not only expose the students to a little-known aspect of American History, it will do so in the voice and from the perspective of a member of the community being written about.
Each Wednesday, students will gather in small groups to discuss what they have read, gleaning insights from fellow students they may have missed on their own, drawing connections to their own life experiences, and thinking how literary themes might influence their own choices. How I Became a Ghost offers not only beautiful language and storytelling to read, discuss, and write about, but also opportunities to discuss diverse perspectives, and to reflect upon which stories from history are widely told, which are not, and why. Students will therefore develop their capacities for reading, comprehension, perspective-taking, and empathy.
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