02 May Using Text Sets to Make Connections Across Human Experiences #NCTE #BuildYourStack
NCTE invited all of us to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children’s Book Week by sharing text sets that create space for our students to make connections across human experiences. So many texts immediately came to mind when I read this invitation. I started creating stacks. Moving texts around as I imagined the journey of the readers exploring these texts. After a few hours of really thinking about this invitation to create space for our students to make connections across human experiences, I was still not satisfied with any of my stacks.
My mind and my heart kept going back to my PreK, Kindergarten and First Grade friends. Their voices, their silence, their tears, their anxiety, their stress, and their stories continued to nag me as if to say, “What about us?” Once in my heart, their voices traveled to my mind and as my fingers hit the keyboard, I decided to share a different stack today. A stack I believe is essential for the little people we have the privilege of teaching. The little people who first need to know themselves before they can know one another. The little people who need to understand empathy and acceptance for themselves and others before they can empathize with a character in a book. The little people who need us to think first about creating space for them to connect to the human experience itself so they can then learn more about the human experience through connecting with characters in books.
Lucy Calkins writes, “We read aloud not only because it is good for children as readers, but also because it is good for all of us as people. Think about the texts that will bring your class together – to laugh together, to be outraged together, to cry together.” This quote and my experience in classrooms with young readers compels me to share a text set that focuses on feelings. I believe the first step in connecting with a character is to truly understand oneself and to first identify with oneself. Authentic connection requires vulnerability and vulnerability is what we need if we want to experience connection. Brené Brown’s research supports the need to understand and identify with one’s feelings in order to achieve the vulnerability required to experience connection, “Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how we feel, how to respond, and how to let life in so that it can touch you.”
This text set explores feelings and creates space for our little people to slow down and simply feel. There are so many titles that deserve a spot in this stack – I hope you add to it! These are some tried and true titles for me. They never fail me when I want to get our youngest readers talking about feelings.
Happy Reading!!! Clare