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20 July 2012 @ 05:29 pm
B is for Belonging  
For years, I have taught about Maslow's needs hierarchy and how it relates to books and reading. The need to belong, to feel a part of something larger than yourself, is an essential need of us all. Several events over this past week have driven this home to me again and again.

The idea for this post came initially as I was listening to the audio of BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu. Hazel thinks about the books she has read and reflects that she knows how ot tesser and more because of the books she has read. At first, on her quest to save her friend Jack from the Ice Queen, she wonders, though, if this magical knowledge will help at all because it is just stuff in books. As someone who has read the book and knows what will happen to Hazel, I tried to shout encouragement to her through the CD player: "Hazel, the magic is IN you because of what you have read and lived and experienced." Hazel did not need my encouragement, though (but that might be the R is for Response essay down the road). She found the magic she needed. In part she could find it because Jack BELONGED to her. And Hazel has some discovery about belonging of her own to make as well.

Later this week I had a 3 hour dinner with the fabulous Donalyn Miller. Talk about belonging to a special group: those fortunate enough to have dinner with Donalyn. We ate at a German restaurant staffed by Hispanic waiters. Different kind of belonging as they were just as at home in the restaurant as the decidedly Germanic looking oompa musicians! But Donalyn and I talked about the Nerdy Books Club, about ALAN, and other places where we BELONG. Here it was again: because we belong, because we have a place to talk and share ideas and learn from one another, we are better teachers.

And then today in the doc class, we talked about the projects the students are finishing up for the course: reading aloud to Hispanic boys, adding books to the collection for African-American boys, developing resources for LGBTQ youth all point to the students' efforts to make sure kids all BELONG.

I think books play a role here (are any of you surprised???) as well. Books can make us feel as if we are not alone at all, make us feel we belong, we fit in. Some of this is through our empathetic engagement with the characters in the books. Some of it, however, is probably so subconscious we are not even aware of it (at least when we are kids). Even Nancy Drew made me feel as if I belonged and I was not an only child (though I wanted to be desperately), did not have a car or absent parents, did not solve mysteries. Somehow, I knew I belonged to the larger world of the book. I do not want to get too esoteric or philosophical here (it is late and I spent all day working with students and am still resupplying my lack of caffeine from yesterday slowly). But I hope some of you are nodding your heads in understanding. No matter the book, I seemed to fit in, to belong at least as long as it took me to read the book.

Finally, a reminder that book blogs are here:



C is for Connectedness
S is for...
J is for...

I am open to suggestions, too. Another one on CCSS is coming since I spent most of Wednesday reading and re-reading anchor and other standards for reading. Sigh...
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