Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Picture Books for POTUS #SOL17 #PictureBooks4POTUS

Last year an early lesson in my AP Lit and Comp class involved reading picture books and finding themes by raising universal questions, such as 

What motivates one person to take from another? 
How can kindness heal wounds from the past? 
Does money and material possessions make someone happier than those without? 
How can I serve others? 

Students liked the lesson, and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild found a new home with two students after they fell in love with the book, so I revisited the lesson last week. 

One group chose EXTRA YARN by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen as their book.

The story centers on Annabelle and a box of colorful yarn she finds. She knits herself a sweater and uses the extra to knit one for her dog, Mars. As Annabelle gives her sweaters away, the yarn magically replenishes itself, enabling Annabelle to knit sweaters and hats for many people. When the archduke offers a million dollars for the yarn, Annabelle refuses to sell it, so the archduke hires three thugs to steal the box of yarn. To his surprise, the box is empty. 

After class I stuck EXTRA YARN in my bag and carried it home. I've read and contemplated its theme that our lives are enriched through what we give and barren when we act selfishly and in our own interests. 

I'm struggling this year. I've fought the urge to quit, to curl up in a corner with my bag of teacher toys and never share again. I am wounded, and a wounded person must fight these baser instincts. My husband reminds me that I must focus on the reason I teach: students. And so I do. I shared with a colleague that having his son in class helps motivate me because I want to do right by my colleagues' children. This trimester I'm teaching two colleagues' children. 

I feel guilty for having a pity party as I watch friends in Houston gather strength to recover from Harvey.

I fight the overwhelming urge to hate Donald Trump as he brings our country closer to the brink of war and works daily to destroy the lives of DREAMERS by ending DACA. I don't know how to cope with his inelegant, inarticulate, depraved rhetoric.

Donald Trump needs art. He needs stories. He needs the power of picture books, poetry, and novels to see the lives of those whose reflection does not stare back in his mirror. He needs these stories to see himself in the archduke in EXTRA YARN. 

I need stories to temper my disgust with President Trump, and I need to share these stories, which is why I'm going to start Tweeting titles of picture books and other literature to the president using the hashtag #PicureBooks4Potus. I'm also sending him a copy of EXTRA YARN with a note suggesting he read it to his grandchildren. 

Of course, there's more work to do. The knitting of stories doesn't begin or end with one little thread. 
You'll find more stories each Tuesday in the Slice of Life Story Challenge.
Head over to Two Writing Teachers for your "Once upon a time" moment.
Thank you TWT for your commitment to stories and teaching.
*Please suggest titles for my project in the comment section.