Not Alone


My fourth graders and I just finished reading How to Steal a Dog. What a beautiful book! Earlier in the month we were noticing a pattern where characters keep wishing they are leaving, as in “I wish the earth would just open up and swallow me whole…” And then D said, “But the dad left. He didn’t wish it, he left.”

And we were awestruck. We hadn’t noticed that yet. Every character meets tough times with a buckling down to work or an attempt (however misguided) to fix it. They complain, they say they want to leave,

But they don’t.

But the dad did.

HE gave up.

And earlier still we talked about the importance of the flashback, the memory moment, when Georgina remembers her parents yelling at each other. And we inferred that perhaps her dad left because her parents didn’t get along.

And that opened the flood gates to a rapid-fire eruption of talk… almost half of my students could relate to divorce, two homes, two sets of parents. They had stories of fights. They knew fights.

And then we stopped, and took a breath.

“Mrs. Skubik, can’t we just go back to the book?”

“Of course, but we need to stop here for just a minute. The importance of this is something we have to acknowledge.

WE have just realized that we are not alone. That is one of the best things that books do for us. They help us see that other people share our worries, our fears, and our joys. We are connected to each other. That is a beautiful thing!”

They sort of believed me. Some of them did. Some of them really wanted to find out what happened next! I get that too. But the beautiful moment of recognizing the power of literature, the power of shared experience, the power of not being alone…

Keep reading my friends.
Not alone indeed.



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5 responses to “Not Alone

  1. Terje

    These are prescious moments when the discussion takes the students beyond the text and really touches them. I am glad you shared one of these moments with us.

  2. I love how you describe “the power of literature, the power of not being alone”! There are so many reasons to read, and this is one to add to my repertoire, as I encourage my students to read 🙂

  3. Great post. Books are magical to me. For being paper and pen they sure have souls.

  4. I’ve had great discussions with my kids this year, too. I’d forgotten about that book and might need to add it to my list of potential read alouds. Our first book was “The Worm Whisperer” by Betty Hicks. It is PERFECT for 4th grade and, given the fact that your kids liked HTSaD, I bet they;d love TWW, too.

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