I have been reading educational theory lately, and it’s clear that those of us who love poor and/or disengaged children have a lot of work to do! The scholarship is solidly behind finding material that kids can both relate to and that they find entertaining. Part of this is having access to and becoming aware of the good books and figuring out ways to get them into kids’ classrooms and their hands! Please share the books you’ve used that get kids excited with me.
One of the few assignments I remember in high school was to write a nonsense poem in the style of Lewis Carroll’s classic poem “Jabberwocky.” It was so much fun to make up words and test their rightness by sound alone! Christopher Myers seeks to engage kids in a flight of fancy as he re-imagines Jabberwocky (Jump at the Sun, $15.99) . Through extensive research, Myers created a theory that Carroll was aware of an ancient game curiously like basketball. The object of this game, played by the Olmecs and the Aztecs, was to send a rubber ball through a stone hoop attached high up on a wall. Myers read Jabberwocky again and again and began to see curious connections to the modern day game of hoops. So the Jabberwock becomes a fierce opponent on the court, challenging the main player to face off in true David and Goliath style. “And, as in uffish thought he stood, the Jabberwock with eyes of flame, came whiffling through the tulgey wood, and burbled as it came!” There is so much fun to be had with this book. Given Myers’ delightful illustrations, kids can write the definitions of the nonsense words; they can take the favorite pastime: football, double dutch, and make up their own nonsense poem about a big showdown. Jabberwocky is about the playful love of language. Let your students dig in and play.