Sunday, September 5, 2010

If You Are a Dreamer, Come In...

Every year, working with small groups of kids who struggle with reading, I’m challenged by the task of balancing their basic remedial needs (phonics and decoding) with my role as someone who should inspire them with a wonder for story-telling, reading, and learning. This year, I’m starting with the wonder and imagination part, by doing something unusual for me—I’m going to introduce the school year with the poem Invitation by Shel Silverstein:

What I love about this poem (and I am not, by nature, a lover of poetry) is the use of second person, literally inviting the reader to join in the story-telling, the pretending, the imagining, rather than extolling the wonders of reading or imagination from a first or third-person point of view. Also, read aloud, the poem creates a nice tone to start a school year. It’s soft, warm, and inviting (come sit by my fire) and far from pushy or preachy. It’s exactly the tone I want to set in my classroom as my students start to read and discuss literature.

So, this school year, I want my students to be dreamers, hopers, pretenders, and wishers that imagine something new, wonder at what they read, and find unexpected meaning in stories. In June, if I’ve succeeded, they will feel comfortable reading and thinking, imagining, and are eager to spin their own flax-golden tales.

It’s the first day of school, Come in!