Response Is Joyous!

With Halloween here, my mind is on kids’ natural response to stories. We’ve (unfortunately) gotten good at forcing our kids to “respond” to books in certain ways:

  • Having them take a test/quiz over a book, or otherwise answer questions
  • Making them write a book report
  • Making them do a particular kind of project over a book

Natural response is different. Here are a couple examples of a child’s natural response to a book:

laura-ingalls
Madeline in Merida costume

Continue reading

Advertisements

Being a Miss Agnes: Writing for Our Kids

There’s a sweet little book called The Year of Miss Agnes, by Kirkpatrick Hill, about a teacher who moves to a remote part of Alaska to teach in a one-room schoolhouse (back in the late 1940’s). The families in the area rely on the fishing industry, and previous teachers were annoyed by the constant smell of fish on the children and their inability to relate to simple American reading primers like Dick and Jane. The children are far behind in their academic skills and have little hope that a new teacher will be different.

miss agnes

But Miss Agnes is different. She embraces the culture and the children from the get-go, hanging their artwork on the walls, reading them stories they’ve never heard before like Robin Hood, and best of all, she writes them stories they can relate to–stories about the children themselves and their families! Continue reading