Let's see if I can explain. Today I spied with y own little eyes a car painted metallic fuschia, some goats grazing in a field of wildflowers, a paint horse tethered in someone's front yard, and assorted wildlife: armadillo, possum, deer, cows. I also drive past the Blue Bell factory, drove through Rogers, the self proclaimed Speed Trap Capital of Texas, and drove to an Italian restaurant for dinner that seems to have stayed in the 1950s. How many of my students ever get the chance to do this, to see these things, to experience them? Even though I work with grad students, I know many of them never get to venture as far as I did today. And I know for certain the students I taught hardly had the chances I do to travel and see and hear and taste, etc. I remember my student teaching stint here kids in a city south of Houston used to talk about going to Houston like it was a huge undertaking (even though I had driven to their school FROM Houston each day). I know College Girl had high school pals who had never been to Houston (30 miles south of where we live). So, how do I make sure they have some wonder-Full experiences?
Books, of course. You see, I was that kid who never had the chance to venture far from home. I grew up in Pittsburgh and never made it as far as Philly until I was an adult and lived in Houston. I never saw wildlife unless it was strapped lifeless to the hood of a car coming back from hunting trips. I lived in such a tiny world back then. But boy did I travel through books. I dorve with Nancy Drew to solve mysteries; I was an Air Force nurse with the intrepid Cherry Ames. I visited London and Rome and lots of other places through the books that I was being fed. My mother made sure I had those books and those experiences though she could not afford much more.
I worry that with the emphasis on rigor (mortis) and exemplars and the like that kids will miss that sense of Wonder-Full, too. John Schu spent today visiting the one and only Ivan at the Atlanta Zoo. I was there with him because he was tweeting and posting Facebook updates. But I was there, too, because I had read that book and was already full of wonder about Ivan. Tonight I am reading David Levithan's EVERY DAY and I am Wonder-Full as I read.
As we prepare to return to the classrooms soon (I have been in mine all summer), I hpe that we find ways to make the reading lives of our kids Wonder-Full.