Sunday, March 31, 2013

Slice 31 - Role Models

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a Slice A Day

Saturday was a great day. A relaxing day, even. I had the chance to catch up with a friend while she highlighted my hair – covering as much grey as possible. J I caught up on Twitter. Drove to Champaign and back for groceries. Listened to an audio book. Made dinner. And it was in doing those last two items – at the same time – that I paused. Smiled.

See, I was listening to The Graveyard Book, written and recorded by Neil Gaiman. I read the first twenty or so pages of this book when it came out back in 2008. I got through the man named Jack killing the parents, the sister, Bod heading for the graveyard. The mother, as a ghost, pleading with the ghosts in the graveyard to take care of her son. Jack, the murderer, stalking towards Bod and the ghosts. I got that far and slammed the book shut. At the time Luke was six, Liam was three. I couldn’t help but put them in the shoes of the children in the book. I just couldn’t read it.

Several students over the years have read it, telling me it was a great book. I still hesitated. And then John Schumacher and Colby Sharp had to go start the Newbery Challenge – or Nerdbery – and I always looked ahead at this book, dreading it. How wrong I was.

I LOVED The Graveyard Book. Loved Silas, the Owens, Bod – all of the kooky characters he meets. I was captivated by Gaiman’s reading of the book, absolutely perfect. (An aside, I kept picturing him as Silas. I hope when they cast the role of Silas in the film I’m not disappointed.) I am so grateful to #nerdbery and John and Colby for forcing me to read this.

And as I finished this beautiful audio yesterday I was making dinner. Lasagna. Delicious. I hadn’t made lasagna forever – can’t remember the last time. Yesterday when catching up on Facebook and Twitter I had seen a post from Teri Lesesne that she was assembling several pans of lasagna yesterday for Easter today; I was inspired to make some as well.

As I finished up making dinner – in tears – as my audio ended as well, I thought about both my book and my dinner. I had only given this book a second chance because two people I admire had challenged me to do so.  I had changed my plans for dinner that night because another person I admire had made the same dish. While I’ve never had Teri’s cooking, I love the way she thinks. I saw her post, thought something like another good idea, Teri, wrote down the ingredients and was off. This made me pause; I’m thirty-nine years old and still influenced by the people around me. I still turn to them for advice, for recommendations. Do my students do the same?

When holding some reading conferences on Thursday I often asked, Who do you get book recommendations from? Number one answer was me. And while I love that they listen to me, they still need to turn to each other. I’ve been working on this all year. John and Colby are my peers – Teri too. I want my students to see their peers as a source of book recommendations. Something I’ve been thinking about ever since seeing Donalyn Miller present material from her new book, Reading in the Wild.

I think when I return to school on Tuesday I will share my experience from Saturday with my students. The idea of giving a book a second chance, and looking to our peers for recommendations – whether it is in regard to books or what you are having for dinner. Our role models are all around us. I’m glad I listened to mine.