Star Fish

Slice of Life Tuesday – April 13, 2021

I slowly turned the page, and there it was, not quite halfway down page 184, my favorite quote from the book. There were already seventeen, two by two-inch post-its randomly sticking out from the edges, but I tore off another and scribbled in all caps FAVORITE QUOTE with a bold arrow and carefully fastened it eleven lines down where the words began.

That's what the best books do.
They make you think,
and rethink
how you see
and the world.
Most of all, they make you feel.
Feelings toward people who aren't like you.
Feelings you didn't know 
you had.

Yesterday I finished reading Star Fish, by Lisa Fipps. I consumed it in one afternoon only stopping to add my eighteen post it notes along the way and to refill my coffee cup twice. The post-it from page 184 took me back into the classroom.

It echoed the language of readers workshop where my students read like BHH readers. I discovered the Book, Head, Heart (BHH) Framework while reading Disrupting Thinking, Why How We Read Matters, by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. I knew immediately this way of getting kids to think textually, intellectually, and emotionally was a perfect fit for my style and philosophy of teaching. I read more and thought more about the framework with each book I read the remainder of the summer.

The next school year, I introduced what it meant to be a BHH reader. Students were great at paying attention to what was in the text but rarely developed deeper thinking and emotional connections with texts. We began to use the prompts, “What did I take to heart?” and “What did I learn about myself or others?” “How will this help me to be better?” and “How has this book changed my thinking?” became the language of the classroom. It appeared that students began reading more for themselves and enjoyment than for a correct response on an assessment. It became my catalyst for getting students to read beyond the text. It also took a while to undo the I-don’t-know responses as the environment shifted to one in which taking risks to share our deep thinking found a permanent place in our classroom.

Getting back to Star Fish, this book will, and should, cause readers to pause, take to heart, and challenge their thinking as they read about Ellie’s struggle to find her self-worth after years of being fat-shamed by others. I cannot wait to share this book with my summer book club and see how many girls are lured by the same quote. Our shared enthusiasm for reading and love for books is what kept us together after school ended three years ago. This summer will be our third season of reading together, and I’m ambitiously searching for books that will push them, ignite them, and change them. Star Fish is just one of the books to do it.

Published by Patty Nault

Retired elementary teacher with a passion for reading, writing, and living a life full of curiosity. "Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." -E.B. White

9 thoughts on “Star Fish

  1. This book is in my TBR pile. I also loved the connection to Probst and Beer’s work and how it is going in your classroom. It sounds like you’re inspiring lifelong readers.

  2. The universe is telling me to read this book — because you are the third or fourth person I have seen it pop up around. I like this idea of BHH and may have to look into it. I’ve been struggling a bit with meaningful independent reading assessment that helps students make connections and this may be a way forward. Thank you for sharing!

  3. You offer so much in this post: a great quote, a book to add to my TBR tower, professional books, and classroom applications. Thank you for sharing all of these in one neat package.

  4. I love books like this – I have some that are also sticky-noted and dog-eared beyond recognition for all of the beautiful language and teaching points I gather. I think I’m also going to have to learn more about the BHH framework. From everything I’ve learned, it sounds like a logical evolution to where I am now…thanks for this post!

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