One Small Request

“Do you have the book, People?” she asked with a shy smile.

“No, I don’t have that book. Is it any good?” was the response to her small request.

“Yes! VERY good. My best friend has it and I want to read it too.” she bounced up and down a little with each syllable.

“Well, let me see if I can get that bo. If you’re saying you really want to read that book, and it’s a good book for our library, I will do my best to get it for you.”

Opening Minds Using Language to Change Lives

When children make book requests to their teachers it is an important moment. To ask for a book, is to be an advocate for yourself. If we act on these requests, students will experience agency. There are so many ways books create bonds between teachers and students. Think of how a child might feel when a teacher says, “This book made me think of you.” Yet another powerful message has been sent, “Yes, you are a reader” and “Yes you are important. I see you.”

A Few Days Later…

People by Peter Spier, first published in 1980

“…(Spier’s) work possesses a charming, colorful, ‘lookability’ to which children as well as adults respond. This… volume with its message of respect and tolerance will be no exception.

New York Times Book Review

The book turned out to be an extremely progressive. It’s message: we are all different in many ways but we are all one, we are all people. This book would make a welcome addition to our classroom library. With a hot cup of tea and this new glossy book in hand, it was time to read it cover to cover. That was when a dilemma arose,

Literacy opens us all up to all kinds of different perspectives. Perhaps our student sees this as a book that offers naked bottoms, and an open grave. To us, this is a book about our shared humanity adrift in an expansive universe. One book, but more than one way to look at it…

That is the most important lesson we think we can impart to students is that we think better together. We can show them how to come to learning with an expectation to negotiate meaning through discourse. There is a deeper form of learning that happens when we open ourselves up to learning from perspectives other than our own.

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