Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's On My Nightstand? Why Charlotte's Web Of Course...

Two weeks ago, I walked into the Education building at the University of Colorado @ Boulder, for my first class of the semester. The building is eerily familiar to me, for I spent most of my days there, a decade ago. Not only was I a full time student, but also a work study in the School of Education. 

I opened the door to my classroom, to be greeted by a familiar face, my professor. Not only is she my professor for the semester, but she was also my advisor and professor my last go around. This professor brings a very unique passion to teaching teachers. She embraced me with a warm hug and I momentarily felt validated in my decision to pursue my Master's Degree. Of course, as with the School of Education, the room was full of classmates that I spent last semester with, with only one new face in the crowd. So they to, offering smiles as I walked in helped reassure me that I am doing the right thing. 

Familiarity is that silent nudge that pats me on the back. In the circle of familiarity I feel at home, safe, and willing to take risks even if I might not always have the right words to say. At this stage of the game for me, being out of the classroom for five years, being out of college for a decade, it's very easy to second guess yourself. It's very easy to think maybe I should be content staying home and not chasing a degree, maybe I should pursue something else. But I let those negative thoughts pass, I let my confidence build. 

Our professor reads aloud to us, her voice so memorable, her readings evoke emotion. I try to recall the last time someone read aloud to me and I couldn't quite put a memory to it. I read to the girls everyday, all through out the day. There's a wonderful meditative feeling in having someone read aloud to you as an adult, it's almost as if your brain allows you to escape even deeper into the story because you aren't focusing on the words coming up, decoding, fluency. Simply lovely. 

As the night progresses, I realize it's going to be one intense semester. I have numerous children's chapter books to read as well as professional articles and books. I have papers to write, annotated bibliographies to prepare, and a literature based unit to teach to a group of student's weekly. But I know I can do it, I just have to learn to juggle managing my household full time, being a mother full time, and engaging the academic part of my brain that has been on sabbatical for a few years. Well, and blogging, as you may imagine it may have to just take a back burner until I am full swing juggling all that life brings me. Maybe I'll bring back the MeMe in full force, just kidding. 

My first assignment of the semester was to read Charlotte's Web by E.B.White. I decided to seize the moment and read Charlotte's Web aloud to my five year old before bedtime. We snuggle under the covers, get out the book and I read while she enjoys a bedtime snack. Sj has become so enthralled by the story that we've actually started reading the book in the morning and at night. We are just a few chapters shy of the end. 

If you haven't revisited Charlotte's Web since your childhood, I have to encourage you to pick it up at the library on your next visit. As our perspective in life changes our interpretations of literature also changes. The language is profoundly eloquent. The words read with grace and flow. The story of friendship and kindness transcends age. If you have a little one (or two or three) sitting around you, take the journey together. It's a beautiful one. 

The American Library Association announced Monday morning their 2009 Book Award Winners. You can find the list here, which is a wonderful resource for the cream of the crop in literature. 

11 comments:

  1. I read that to S when she was in K. She LOVED it!! We followed up with the movie.

    What other children's chapter books are you reading this semester?

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  2. I love Charlotte's Web and read it many time growing up. But it does tackle sad subjects for little guys. Both the fear of the slaughterhouse and the death of Charlotte. You'll have to write more about your discussion of these topics with your daughter and her reaction. Since none of my kids are quite old enough for that yet, I'd love to hear more so I can start preparing!

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  3. COngrats on heading back. I love kid lit, and despite having a minor in English, I never could get into that class as all the elementary ed majors needed it. You are right about the cadence and rhythm of some of those books that will always remain classic.

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  4. been a long time since i read it, maybe i should look it up. If you keep listing the assignments does that mean we are doing the course with you!!

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  5. I still think it's fabulous you're back in school. It's hard to figure out life, isn't it? But, you are taking steps towards a desired goal and that is great. I love Charlotte's Web and think it's a great tool for explaining certain moments in life to a kid.

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  6. Lily and I read it together last summer. I love that book and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! Lets get together soon. Gin

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  7. Lily and I read it together last summer. I love that book and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! Lets get together soon. Gin

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  8. Lily and I read it together last summer. I love that book and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! Lets get together soon. Gin

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  9. Lily and I read it together last summer. I love that book and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!! Lets get together soon. Gin

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  10. I can't wait until my kids are old enough for chapter books!

    Good Luck with your busy schedule!

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  11. Sounds like an amazing class, you're going to do great. :)

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I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!