Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Book Life

Book Club time is here! During the fifth month of her pregnancy of her first child Natalie Taylor is devastated by the sudden death of her husband. Her journey with grief is chronicled in the memoir Signs of Life. Join From Left to Write on March 29 as we discuss Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

This book was heartbreaking...really...pregnancy was such a joyful time for me, can't imagine looking forward to the birth of my first child and dealing with the death of my beloved husband.

Natalie is a high school English teacher who used her love of literature to help her get through the worst of times. I absolutely loved when she talked about her books and related them to her lives. I am a sucker for any book compilations of relating novels to our current lives (see my goodreads list). I , too, am a teacher, and see so much value in showing children how powerful books can be. All my life I was the kid walking around with a book in my hand, bringing paper bags to the library so I could carry home lots of books, and even in college (can't believe I am saying this) reading a little ahead in my new textbooks because I was so excited to get brand new books! (I remember my roommate Michelle teasing me one spring break...)
I don't teach high school like Natalie, but in elementary school, I try to introduce great fiction to my kids and get them to dig deep. If you are interested in questioning strategies to use with your children, I teach my kiddos "thick" and "thin" questions. "Thin" questions are the ones that can be answered with a few words-who the character is, the setting, the problem (sometimes). You use many words to answer "thick" questions, and not everyone necessarily gets the same answer. That's OK-as long as you can back up your answer. I love those thick questions! That's how I introduce literature circles, and they can be used with all kinds of stories! I teach the kids some question starters and include the great "I wonder", and then they write their own "thick" questions. Kids come up with some wonderful ideas! I love it when they can make me rethink my ideas about characters and situations in stories. Of course, they love it when I tell them that, too!
Getting off track there...but really, just like Natalie used her novels to deal with her grief, I do think teachers should use great literature to help children make sense of their lives. Ask a librarian for suggestions. Ask other teachers. Kids feeling lonely? Try Because of Winn-Dixie. Got bullying problems? Try Maniac Magee! Need some compassion from your kiddos? Shiloh can help!I think maybe I could sift through my upper elementary grade fiction and make a separate post of suggestions.
I think all of you From Left to Write members, being book lovers, know how incredible children's lit is-if not, try it-you will be surprised!


Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

My kids love books! I've read them books since the day they were born. I look forward to the day my daughter can become an independent reader so we can talk about her stories together.sklin vershpl

Pammy pam said...

I LOVE all the books you mentioned! literature helps little kids too!

Amy @ said...

Now that my kindergartener is a reader, we're discovering all kinds of great new books and I can't wait to read the ones you mentioned. Thanks for the inspiration!