Facebook Read Alouds

At the beginning of the 2019/20 school year, Gill Elementary started a new tradition: bi-weekly read alouds on our Gill Elementary Facebook Page. Our principal, Mr. Driscoll, introduced the first one by saying "the goal of this bi-monthly segment is to spark conversation. Each video will showcase a great picture book that does just that. The really great thing about picture books is that they’re not just for kids. A truly great picture book can inspire conversation and debate among adults just as they can and should with students."

Read Aloud #3: The Invisible String, Written by Patrice Karst and Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, read by Principal Conor Driscoll.

 

This week’s book is a personal favorite that “tugs at your heartstrings.” It showcases the interconnectedness that we all have as people because of one common thing that binds us together- love. It also provides an opening to discuss an incredibly hard topic with students- grief and loss. Everyone grieves differently, and kids especially so. They grieve differently than adults, and differently than each other. 

This past summer, my family experienced the loss of my mother, and by extension, my daughter’s grandmother. My wife and I found that books, this one in particular, helped build Courtney’s capacity to discuss loss, and to retain a feeling of connectedness to my mother’s memory. She’ll often surprise us still by saying things like “I feel Meme pulling on my string!” Which is both heartwarming and heartbreaking- par for course with grief. 

Several students in our school have experienced loss and grief since the start of this school year, alone. The goal in sharing this book is a hope that they know that they are not alone. If you or your child is experiencing grief and needs support, please check out https://www.look4help.org/ or reach out to the school so we can point you in the direction of community resources. 

As with the other books, questions for discussion are posted below. I apologize for the long-winded introduction. Without further adieu, I hope you enjoy The Invisible String. Written by Patrice Karst and Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vreithoff. 

Discussion Questions: 

  1. What does the author mean that love connects us all? 

  2. How can we love something or someone that isn’t here? 

  3. Why is it important that the string stays there even when people might get mad? 

  4. If there is ever a time when you don’t feel the string, what strategies could you use to make sure it is still there? (happy memories, doing something the brings back memories, etc.)

 

Read Aloud #2: We're All Wonders, Written by R.J. Palacio, read by Principal Conor Driscoll. 

[Source: https://www.facebook.com/GillElementary/videos/2380082025543398/ ]

This week’s read aloud is “We’re All Wonders” By R.J. Palacio. This book, like the last one highlights a character who is different, and who gets his feelings hurt by the way some people react to his differences. Towards the end, is the message about people changing the way they see people who are different than themselves. What a concept- that the way we look at things can determine how we see them and by extension, how people feel. This book will also be highlighted by our counselor in the future with a more in depth lesson for our students. As with last week, posted along with this video are some questions for thought. These aren’t broken up by age level, as kids and adults of all ages can talk about them. 

  1. What does it mean to be normal (or ordinary)? 

  2. What would the world be like if everyone was ordinary? 

  3. What does it mean to “change the way you see?” 

  4. How can you practice “changing the way you see?”

Read Aloud #1: Wings, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers, read by Principal Conor Driscoll.  

Principal Driscoll's introduction, from the Facebook Live post on August 30, 2019:

I really like this book for a couple of reasons. As you’ll see, It is about people being unkind to someone who is different, but it is written from the perspective of someone watching- a bystander who becomes troubled by her own silence. It also brings into the fray social structures that can lead to isolation or perpetuate harmful practices in the interest of conformity, safety or stability. It is a really great book, accessible to every grade level. Here are some discussion questions that I would invite you to talk about with your child, your friends, or just think about for yourself.

Discussion questions for students:

1) Have you ever had things happen to you that made you feel alone or hurt? What helped or would have helped at those times?

2) Have you ever been quiet when you wish you had spoken up? What would help you speak up?

3) What do you think about what the teacher and policeman did in this story? The teacher was thinking about the other kids in class and the policeman was thinking about safety. Were they right or wrong? Why?

4) How many people being kind did it take for Ikarus to feel good? Why is that an important lesson? 
Ikarus had something really cool- he was able to fly! Why did he feel bad about that?

5) Why do you think the other kids laughed at Ikarus and didn’t want to play with him?

6) Why was it so hard for the main character to speak up? How do you think she felt once she did?

Discussion questions for adults and/or older kids:

1) The main character was new to the school and had a very visible thing that made him different. Do you think that is easier or harder than having something that is different about you that is not visible?

2) As adults, what role do we have to help kids not be silent when they see injustice?

3) In this case, the teacher and the police officer may have been a metaphor for social structures that, while well-intentioned (i.e. the teacher wanting to maintain order in the classroom and the officer wanting to maintain safety on the street) may perpetuate practices that isolate and marginalize. How can we work together to strike the balance necessary to maintain order and stay safe, while still allowing for individual differences to be valued and celebrated.