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 yourself, others, 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.