Since our last post, RAO has had great discussions about voting, traveling, and tipping! In thinking about how books are nominated for the National Book award, RAO students imagined themselves as a committee of book judges, and decided that we like books that are “relatable”, with “interesting characters”. We like books that have elements of suspense so we “can’t wait to find out what happens next” (-or we wonder “What’s going on? Did I miss something?”). We also like books that are composed of “facts and fictional details” as well as “rhythm and rhyme”.
RAO continued to read The Book Thief, and many of us loved seeing the stage performance at the Steppenwolf Theatre on November 11th. It was lively and rich with emotion. Later, we wondered how a 500-plus page book gets turned into a play that is less than three hours long!
Some students adopted words from The Book Thief. The idea was to “get chummy” with new vocabulary words. In class, we thought about how Hans Hubermann helped Liesel learn the alphabet by painting letters and drawing pictures for her. Using colored paints, brushes, cups of water, and large sheets of paper taped to the classroom walls, RAO students painted and talked to their classmates about words such as “omit”, “hinder”, and “staunch”. One student’s search for information about the word “Gestapo” led her to travel independently to the public library, where---for the first time in her life---she collaborated with a librarian who showed her how to locate a book on the subject.
On November 12th, RAO students Cheri Hubbard and Charles Barnett traveled to New York City for National Book Foundation Week! They were reunited with Jaye Jones at the Innovations in Reading Awards luncheon, which was held at the Ford Foundation. All of the awardees shared presentations about their unique projects related to books and reading. Jaye Jones delivered the RAO presentation. When Cheri and Charles returned to Chicago, they told the class about how they ate an expensive breakfast at the Essex Hotel, and rode a double-decker tour bus with June Porter. Cheri talked about taking the A-train with Jaye and Leslie up to Harlem, where they took photos of each other rubbing the stump from “The Tree of Hope” for good luck in the lobby of the Apollo Theater. Charles and Cheri told the class about “Streetbooks: the Bicycle-powered Mobile Library for People Who Live Outside”, which they learned about at the Innovations luncheon.
In December RAO joined Andrea Kelton’s ABE class and two volunteers on a trip to see the movie “Lincoln”. It was an eye-opening experience to see how politicians get laws passed. The film inspired conversations about the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, laws against interracial marriage, and women’s power to influence men even before they gained the right to vote. A scene in the movie that showed soldiers transporting dead bodies from the battlefield reminded one student about the military job Hans Hubermann was given in The Book Thief.
On December 12 , student Angela Halls led a discussion on “The Idiot and the Coatmen” from The Book Thief. She prepared for doing this weeks ahead of time, by writing a summary and making a list of questions for the class to discuss. The class was proud of the way she facilitated, and gave her an invigorating round of applause.
On the last day of class, students worked in pairs and stood before their classmates to talk about what they got out of reading The Book Thief. This story touched on so many things that we could relate to including being orphaned and taken in by foster parents; the struggle to learn to read and being tutored; and being as mystified as Death (the character) about the qualities of human hatred and love.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2013 from Reading Against the Odds!