Every year, my school hosts Literacy Lunch.
It is a time for families to come share in the love of reading, writing, and learning in classrooms, followed by a meal together in our cafeteria.
Literacy Lunch has sometimes been a vehicle for explaining English Language Arts curriculum, and shifts in standards, to parents. Mostly it’s a time for students and their families to collaborate on literacy activities. We’ve had poetry slams, writing cafés, and a “Step Write Up” carnival. We’ve invited families to SWiRL (speak, write, read, listen) and we’ve gone “wild” about reading (with the school decorated like a rainforest).
Even though it’s hosted in the middle of the day, Literacy Lunch remains one of our school’s best-attended events. Three days are designated: One for kindergarten and first grade, one for second and third, one for fourth and fifth. Some families come all three days to spend time with their children in different grade levels.
The comment we receive most often from parents: Thank you for this time with my child.
It tugs on the heartstrings, for a parent to tell you this.
When it came time to think of a theme for Literacy Lunch this year, part of my mind kept latching onto the idea of celebrating families themselves. They are, after all, the fabric of our school community, the thing that makes it unique. They are our greatest resource.
Then, in February, Two Writing Teachers ran a blog series on “Teaching Writing with a Social Justice Lens.” Co-author Kelsey Corter penned “A School Can Be the Change”, a breathtaking post on identity, culture, heritage, power, action, and the vital importance of honoring each other by sharing our stories. It was based on her school’s work and the book Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed.
I read these introductory lines of Kelsey’s over and over:
More than something we do, school can be the place where literacy is a way of living; a means for understanding the world and our place in it, that which shapes perceptions and molds identities.
The words turned round and round in my head:
Where literacy is a way of living
Literacy . . . living
“Well, that’s it,” I announced to my colleagues. “That’s my vote for the theme of this year’s Literacy Lunch.”
For, in truth, while the children are growing as readers and writers, their stories, all of our stories, are unfolding each day that we live; our families are a fundamental part of that. Every one is unique, every one valuable.
And so it was agreed upon, and the children got to work on Living Literacy: Celebrating Me in Pictures and Words.
It began with them tracing their hands to make flowers, one for each homeroom—a whole garden of beautiful, diverse flowers.
Teachers and grade levels planned identity-related activities for students to share with families:
Many thanks to my colleagues for this annual collaborative effort.
To our families: THANK YOU for coming, for sharing, for being a vital part of the story we live each day. Be happy. Hug. Have fun. Inspire. Love. Sing.
And thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for the ever-flowing wellspring of inspiration, from which I drew the idea for this year’s theme.
My cup runneth over.