Christian Robinson/Courtesy of Penguin Random House Publishing
Yesterday afternoon, I conducted a podcast with a few 4th and 5th grade students. It was after school. Excited and nervous, the kids volunteered to stay.
For just under an hour, we discussed the picture book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson.
What strikes me about the experience is that all four students spoke about content, text features, and personal connections. They extracted specific quotes from the text in order to make a point. They referenced how the illustrations worked with the text. They brought up simile and metaphor.
Most of it on their own.
What I am left with are discoveries compounded by questions--each its own slippery slope. I realize that I wouldn't have to test these kids. A conversation revealed just how much they understand about a book, reading in general, and analysis...because they could talk about it. If you listen to the podcast (15 minutes in length) you will hear the students make inferences. You will hear them use support for their positions. And you will hear their curiosity.
However, more importantly, you will hear their empathy and joy.
What will happen to their joy? In the time between 4th grade and when they reach me in 8th grade, what will happen to the joy I heard? I saw it. I sat around a table with it.
Will it stay? Or will their joy get snuffed out...extinguished...by pressure, by the loss of time, by mounting responsibilities...like so many young teenagers report to me again and again and again?
If you listen to the podcast, you will hear me ask these four kids make a promise to me...to not forget their joy, to not let it go, And to come and see me when they make it to middle school. Come tell me about your joy and the books that you love.
I hope they do.