Our school has an intergenerational program with a nearby Village for seniors that has been running for over 20 years. Seniors living at the Village visit with us here at school and in their living spaces to read with the children, play math games, work in the community garden, celebrate holidays and share their lives. We have several Village residents that have been volunteering in the library for many years. Teachers and students alike develop relationships with seniors that carry over as the years pass. Some of our community service projects are done in conjunction with projects going on at the Village. This is a really special program that we all delight in, with numerous benefits for everyone.
One of our friends living in the Village has been volunteering in our school for about ten years. She and her husband come to visit the fourth grade every week and they have so much to share with our students. She is in her 80s and wheelchair bound, but that doesn't slow her down at all as she is also the head of the co-ordinating committee for the intergenerational program. When she had to have some surgery done this summer she asked one of our teachers for some book recommendations. She read a stack of children's books and young adult fiction. She returned the books this week, with sticky notes attached give one sentence responses and summaries of the stories, just to share her thoughts on the books. In our reading program the teachers have taught the students to use sticky notes to record thoughts and questions and responses as they read, in the way of Lucy Caulkins and others. It is a quick and meaningful way of making sense of the text and preparing to share one's thoughts with others in conversation, which gives depth and focus to the reading process for our students. It is charming to see our Village friend learning to adapt a young learner's strategy to her own reading and sharing.
Here are the brief comments from our Village friend on her summer reading:
Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs. Kind of book I love, especially the Newfoundland dog - would it appeal to girls... too much archeology?
Conrad's Fate by Diana Qynne Jones. Harry Potterish but an absorbing read. A bit complicated.
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. An absolutely wonderful book - an allegory on so many levels. Really great.
The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac. Very good - especially as it relates to Rogers' Rangers...
The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Brochac. Good & somewhat easy read - great Quaker message.
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. Good but not her best.
The Giver by Lois Lowry. Marvelous! Too old for 4th grade -but all kinds of good stuff.
It is delightful for me, as a librarian, to come back and find her notes on the books as I check them in and prepare to reshelve them. I will be able to tell the children asking for good books what she has said about these, and I am sure they will take her opinions seriously. Who has shared their summer reading with you as the seasons change and we get back into our fall schedules? What conversations have you had about your summer books, and how has that delighted you?