Sunday, April 20, 2008

Learning from my own reading

Back in December I wrote about how I was inching my way through A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't finished it. I am closer to the finish line but still enjoying bits of it when I have personal down-time to read for myself (instead of for professional reasons, to my kids, with my kids or any other reason I can't be specific with right now). As I have read this longer book over several months, I decided to post-it pages that I loved, pages I wanted to read again and come back to and pages that helped me understand the story and character. So here I go to share two... (1)the first words that drew me into this story were written in the foreword by Anna Quinland when she compared Francie Nolan to Jo March from Little Women and to Betsy Ray of the Betsy-Tacy books ( this was my favorite series as a young reader). I knew I would enjoy a book with a character similar to my childhood favorite!!! (2)On page 72 Betsy Smith (the author) writes that..."
"Francie Nolan was, all of the Rommelys and all of the Nolans. She had a violent weakness and passion for beauty of the shanty Nolans. She was a mosaic of her grandmother Rommely's mysticism, her tale-telling, her great belief in everything and her compassion for the weak ones. She had alot of her Grandfather Rommely's cruel will. She had some of her Aunt Evy's talent for mimicking, some of Ruthie Nolan's possessiveness. She had Aunt Sissy's love for life and her love for children..."
..."she was made up more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly..."
"She was all of these things and of something more that did not come from the Rommely's nor the Nolan's, the reading, the observing, the living from day to day. It was something that had been born into her and her only-the something different from anyone else in the two families. It was God or whatever is His equivalent puts into each soul that is given life-the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike.
I couldn't help but want to read this again because to me it reminds me of how we are all the same but different... how parts of ourselves flow from the genes that connect family characteristics (nature... eyes, ears, arms and nurture...personalities) and yet there is some piece of ourselves that remains uniquely our own (fingerprints... soul). This same idea about understanding how uniquely different yet the same we are is touched upon each year in my classroom as we read Stellaluna, The Other Side and Big Al. Books, old and new, picture and chapter, simple and complex open our minds to multiple understandings. Can I think through how to use pieces of this in my own primary workshop...
readers are patient with challenging texts?
readers find pages they love in their books?
readers think about what books teach them?
readers connect to other texts?


Mary Lee said...

You're always thinking -- that's the important thing!

Sarah Amick said...

I think that this is my favorite post of yours! Thinking about my community and how they are the same but so uniquely different. My aide mentioned just this week, "Oh Sarah, couldn't you just spend hours talking to these children?!!?!?!" She's right, if we can just sit and discuss we truly know what to teach these cherubs.

Anonymous said...

I am cracking up...I am reading that too and it is taking me forever (since before Christmas!)! It's the second time I've tried to read it and just can't get into...but I do like it--if that makes sense. You have inspired me to continue on and finish. Thanks Katie!

~Lisa M.

sexy said...