Thursday, November 13, 2014

How MG Books Make Miracles Happen by Shannon O'Donnell

 A Teacher's Dream . . .

As a teacher, I have learned that some topics will, without fail, be met with loud and heartfelt groans when the kids discover it's THAT time in the curriculum. One of those topics is poetry.  Any fan of middle grade literature is familiar with Sharon Creech--author extraordinaire--and more than likely familiar with LOVE THAT DOG. This little book is a miracle worker! 

Whenever I start a poetry unit (following the customary moaning and groaning), I begin with the poems found in the back of LOVE THAT DOG. The kids are unimpressed. Then, I read the book and something magical happens. Suddenly, poetry isn't so bad. Suddenly, those poems are all awesome! Minds are opened for every poem that follows, and the unit even becomes fun for most of them. Oh, and did I mention . . . I teach HIGH SCHOOL students.  **MAGIC** 
Because of the overwhelming teacher and kid feedback to LOVE THAT DOG, Sharon responded by writing a companion title, HATE THAT CAT. Many of my students even prefer it. Both books are phenomenal.

Of course, these are not the first or only books to work miracles with students in the classroom. That is the beauty of literature. 
  • Patricia Polacco's PINK & SAY is a powerhouse for helping students feel empathy and gain insight to the Civil War and  AUNT CHIP AND THE GREAT TRIPLE CREEK DAM AFFAIR is wonderful for media literacy. 
  • I love to use THE BULLY by Paul Langan with my freshman. It opens eyes to the realities and emotional consequences of bullying more successfully than anything I've ever seen.   
  • MONKEY ISLAND by Paula Fox is powerful and sad, but it says so much about the human spirit and hope and second chances. It also opens our eyes to a societal issue that is too often overlooked.  
  • And then there is the long, long list of titles that have helped non-readers discover a love for reading. 
Books open doors to learning that my students would otherwise resist. To me, that is magic.

"Books are a uniquely portable magic."
~ Stephen King

What are some books that you would consider "magical" for young readers? I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences.

1 comment:

  1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Reading is a wonderful thing. It never hurts to have more readers.


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