From the time I put a book in my hands and read about someone else’s life I knew this would be transformative for me! And it has. Instead of wallowing in self pity (many opportunities for that) I read about another’s dilemma, conundrum or challenge in their lives. Old classics just reaffirmed that “we all go through trying times.” And this belief helped me get through the challenges in my life. But so much for that, for now. (A previous post to help you understand.)
I steered my kids to books as outlets for their “drama” and now my grandkids read voraciously, understanding that books can help them as well.
From the day I entered the classroom I knew books held a key and the backbone to my teaching. Whether sharing joyous, humorous stories, informational text, traveling to distant countries, looking at hardships characters endured or deleving into self-help books my go to reservoir was always plentiful! When classroom situations seemed daunting there was always a huge number of books available in our school or classroom library. And what an incredible resource we have in our librarian! I think about this as I reflect on my years of teaching and how often that book, that said it so well, was close at hand. For the child who was bullied, the one with few friends, the one facing the death of a parent or close family member, the one who faced illness, or one who was moving or the daily “goodbyes” when it was time for school; books that looked at empathy, kindness, and the choices we make. There was a book there and a caring adult to read to the class (or one on one to that child), to address their concerns. (To read about Bibliotherapy )
As with all the “tools” in our trade, books are not a panacea but another resource that supports our students to let them know we care. And now I sub and continue to reach out to students with the power of stories and books. I subbed with the 4s this week and read We’re All Wonders by R.J Palacio. Sitting wide eyed they asked incredible questions and tried to make sense of being “not nice.” Now the wait to see how they transfer that story into their own behavior. It will take time and many other stories, but it’s a start.
Does that “perfect” book change a behavior? Do the children get it right away? Is there an immediate transfer to actual circumstances? I’m not naive, just hopeful that discussions and questions when books are shared might help children reflect before they act. And here is where patience comes into play: change takes time, but it happens.