Hey, Everyone. It’s February, the month that tantalizes us with thoughts of Spring, touches our heart with thoughts of love and reminds us to celebrate the rich history and many contributions of Black Americans.
During my days in the classroom, I always took advantage of February to relate the love aspects of February to literacy. Students and I would collect and discuss genres we loved, lines we loved and those very precious books that were close to our hearts. So…since this is my first February as a retired teacher, I’m asking you to fill the gap. Let’s collaborate by sharing the varied dimensions of literacy that we love. If we focus on genres, books and lines from literature that can speak to our children, we will end the month with a ton of ideas for reading and discussion that we can share in our homes or in our classrooms. Are you game? Let’s go.
This week, my posts will focus on two genres I love. I’ll explain the personal appeal these favorites have for me and offer several books that, in my opinion, epitomize that genre. Please join in and help create a rich conversation on this topic.
Reading has always helped me navigate the various states and situations of my life. By definition, realistic fiction weaves a narrative using characters and situations that could really happen. I love it because it enables me to constantly ask myself, “What would I do?” Realistic fiction also allows me to consider the appeal of the characters. I can consider who I really admire and why, as well as peek into the motivation and emotional life of many composites of real people. When I close the book on a well-written realistic tale, it sticks with me for years to come. In my mind I return to the characters, the setting, the problem and allow it to color my real-life choices and opinions. Pretty powerful stuff.
Here are three realistic fiction books I’ve read with youngsters that linger long after the story has ended:
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
This is an amazing book. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it brought me into a world quite foreign to me. Told from the perspective of Melody, a fifth-grade girl who suffers from cerebral palsy, this book reeled me in on the first page. Melody can neither walk nor talk. We journey with her as her school institutes inclusion classes and Melody joins the other fifth graders. Draper’s realistic descriptions and dialogue, humor and pathos unveiled the reality of a child with a serious diability. This book not only educated me, but fostered an understanding and empathy that I lacked before devouring it. This book is a great example of why I love realistic fiction.
The Hundred Dresses
This book is a prime example of a short, simple text that packs a wallop. Set in a small school like the ones that existed many years ago, it creates a story about the insidiousness of bullying and the conflict it creates for both the victim and the bully. I recommended this book in an earlier post but can’t write about my favorite realistic fiction tales without mentioning this once again.
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Year after year, I turned to this book when I was stymied trying to find a tale that would prompt students to think and to discuss. This is a moving story of a twelve-year-old boy’s guilt when an adventure he has with his best friend turns tragic. Having read this with at least five groups of students, I can attest to its lasting impact.
Your turn. Let’s generate hearty discussion. Share the genre that touches your heart.