Read like a hero

The coming of spring at my school means it’s time for Literacy Lunch, an annual event where families are invited to take part in literacy-related activities in class followed by lunch in the cafeteria with their children. It’s one of our best-attended events. We do it over three days; parents with multiple children typically come on all three. The comment they make most often: “Thank you so much for this time at school with my child.”

It won’t happen this school year.

Our theme was to be Read Like a Hero! Our committee, entitled Reading Incentive People, otherwise known as the RIP, brainstormed and came up with suggestions to use with families. Note the emphasis on writing to be read aloud and art, which can also be “read”:

The “hero in me” digital word cloud (student photo with digital word cloud of student’s character traits)

Any reading/writing about community heroes OR superheroes

-“What makes a hero” activities, such as artistic representations of adjectives that describe a hero, with discussion

Character development (create a hero; use heart maps? ) Note: I’ve done this when teaching fantasy writing—we used heart maps to create villains!

Research and present living/historical heroes (tie to social justice?) Consider having kids present as a wax museum! Note: We’ve done a wax museum before, with students holding a “button” on one hand for families to press and hear them read as their character, in costume. EVERYONE loved this.

With heroes OR superheroes: Consider comic strips, saving the world, or any activity incorporating beginning, middle, and end

Onomatopoeia art/action word art for heroes/superheroes

Handprint heroes, real or superhero, with written stories to be read aloud

Create masks representing heroes, with corresponding poetry, story, or play writing, to be read/performed

Create action figures, with story writing; what about a short action film?

Opinion writing about the superpower students would want and why, to be read aloud

Favorite hero/superhero costumes welcome, so students can truly “read like heroes”

THE POINT: Creatively celebrating the joy of reading and the value of it—hence, being a reading hero.

I share this now for several reasons.

First being that our theme was set in motion before COVID-19 hit; we’d be gearing up for it at school now.

Secondly: I wonder if choices of heroes would be different, if kids and families would now choose to research, represent, or write and read about doctors, nurses, government officials (Andrew Cuomo, anyone? And I’m not even in New York!) How about those who are providing childcare for medical professionals and food to those in need? Maybe strangers who share their stash of toilet paper? People making and distributing hand sanitizer for free? The concept of hero, in just a few weeks’ time, is suddenly redefined.

And as for comic strips … how many might feature a specially-created superhero to defeat the monster COVID-19, also known as CoronaVirus? How many fictional doctors or kids in a lab might create an antidote?

Imagine a student creating and reading that aloud.

One day, my school will hold our Read Like a Hero event on campus—I already have the shirt (the lead photo). I am wearing it as I write this. One day, we’ll all enjoy gathering to celebrate literacy, learning, and lunch together—when we’ve defeated the tiny viral archenemy currently terrorizing us.

Until then … here’s to reading and being the hero of living one day at time.

A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt, or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.

—Christopher Reeve

19 thoughts on “Read like a hero

  1. I love this idea and the whole school participation. I think heroes today are the medical workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. working so hard many without proper equipment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Was just now watching healthcare professionals’ plea for donated supplies on TV. They are heroes, indeed…and so are the givers. Yes – our event is so much fun, the whole atmosphere, festive. How much more we’ll appreciate it when we finally get to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post washed a sadness over me that I wasn’t expecting. Our communities are changing by the hour. We have this out of control feeling. I look forward to the day I’ll read your blog about the joy and success of your literacy lunch.

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    • I was sad when I wrote it, Margaret. Mourning, actually. But – how much more meaningful this event will be when it’s safe to come together again; the thought of where the kids will take it with their “hero” representations lightens my spirits.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your post has me thinking in so many directions. I mean, here we all are, as our own unique protagonists, fighting our battles in the small and large scheme of things. And we, as a culture, as humans, emerge in that form as well – which, now that I think about it, I guess humanity could be the protagonist OR antagonist, depending on the story…?

    Oh, so very much to think about here. You also bring up an important point – about our current crisis shaping the very way we view heroes and heroism.

    You know, my third graders have been studying heroes and the Hero’s Journey archetypes. I should have them start thinking about this…

    Thanks, as always, for your food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are being reshaped and redefined daily … how we emerge from this cocoon, and what form we take, will be interesting to see… how grateful I am for your words here, Lainie, and the depth of your thoughts, the precision of your insights! Thank YOU. And … if you want to take anything here and run with it digitally, do; I’d love to know. 🙂

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  4. Fran, not only is your celebration a marvelous idea to encourage children and parents to think out of the box creatively but it is one that will become a reality when the virus is no longer live. I can imagine how much time you spent designing this event. Your enthusiasm and dedication to creating lasting memories for student readers and writers are commendable. Whenever school returns so will the good times again. I am thinking that this pause will get students excited about coming back to the learning table.

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  5. Your post has me thinking how my own school activities would be changed due to COVID-19, if we were allowed to continue. My husband and I were just talking about our fifth grade broadcast team; what would they choose to report on these days? I’m sure our videographers would come up with some creative iMovies on handwashing and catching coughs and sneezes. We definitely would be wiping off books and scanners, keyboards and communal iPads more often.

    Your hero activities sound wonderful! There are a lot of superhero books out there now, classic characters like Wonder Woman and Superman rewritten for younger readers. Though I’m with you; we have plenty of real-life heroes to laud and emulate during this event. I do truly hope that one day, your hero literacy event will happen!

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    • It will be interesting to see what your broadcast team does come up with on your return.. although – alas – will it be a new broadcast team by then? This is hard to think about, not seeing fifth-graders if we don’t make it back this year. I can’t even conceive of it. My youngest son was to graduate college in May and it’s already canceled (post to come in that regard). On a lighter note: We will have our event, probably next year; instead of waiting for next spring, it might be a great celebration of togetherness – and heroes – in the fall.

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  6. I so love how you went from writing about what would have been a highlight of your school year to calling attention to the heroes who are doing all they can to make us safe right now. I love that you’re wearing your shirt for it right now, too! So well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Allie. About heroes – I am watching the news about people working around the clock to produce more ventilators. It reminds me of my grandfather’s stories of working in the shipyard in WWII, how they built ships in record time. So many people making sacrifices for us all…

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  7. I love this…and what a valiant hero(ine) you are for literacy that you would share this with the world. Thank you for allowing it to transcend the context of your campus. You have positively impacted the community abroad, perhaps more than you will ever know.
    With Warmest Regards, Carla Michelle

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