I was talking with a former student at the pool the other day. I absolutely adored this child, even though I knew their early years in school were not a piece of cake. They reminded me that I always told them they were like Percy when they were feeling down. (Jackson, from The Lightning Thief, if you haven’t read it.) They also struggled with ADHD and dyslexia. I wanted them to feel empowered by their differences, not lesser because of them. The secret I didn’t share with my fabulous student was when I was frustrated, I also thought of Percy. He’s a character I adored, and if I loved him, I could make it through whatever struggle we were having that day. The connection of my student and a favorite character benefited us both.
I do that a lot; think of my favorite characters in my classroom and who they remind me of in my favorite books. I have many versions of Junie B. Jones, but also several Matties (from Hound Dog True). I might look out and see a Ramona or Clementine, but also a future Brian from Hatchet. Sometimes it is by knowing my students and knowing my favorite characters that I make my first connections during our school year together.
What about you? Are there any characters you see in your students year after year? Do you share that knowledge with your students? If you do, does it help you? Does it help them? Please share! This is a concept that I’m weaving into what may one day be a book and I would love to see if any of your characters are found on my lists as well.