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.