“An Axe for the Frozen Sea”

As we stand before our new classes of students, we look around to see faces that we will get to know well over the next ten months. We will learn the strengths of our students, their quirks, their interests, their diverse family situations, their hopes and dreams, and if we’re lucky, they’ll give us insight into their vulnerabilities, too.

When I choose a class read-aloud, I consider the composition of the students in my classroom. Sure, I have my favourite read-alouds depending on the grade I’m teaching, but with so much wonderful literature continually being published, I like to consider new releases and especially the needs of the kids in the room.

Have you read Charlotte’s Web, The Giver, or Wonder to your students? Yes? Then you know the literate conversations and life-giving discussions that follow.

The books we choose are important. After all, shared story experiences provide us with opportunities to discuss, make connections, express opinions, and open our eyes to situations other than our own. Books help us experience a range of perspectives, learn empathy, and explore emotions within the safety of their pages.

If you’re looking for something different this year, consider Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern (told from a dog’s perspective as he lives and works with a boy with Autism), Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (about a boy who’s imaginary friend – who happens to be a cat – helps him through some family struggles), or Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (about unlikely friendships and dealing with bullies).

Franz Kafka once said, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” As a teacher, shared story experiences can assist us in breaking through the ice, supporting our students through the challenges they face in this world.

What will you read to your class this year?

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