One of the great challenges for a school community—and, in truth, all communities—during this time is finding ways to create shared experiences. The everyday moments we took for granted have been set aside for safety, and we’re creatively seeking ways to make meaningful connections.
Thankfully, there are always books. Even when libraries are closed and local bookshops are limited to curbside pickups, our students have found ways to collectively get lost in a book and learn together. Several Elementary students have volunteered to continue our Buddy Reading program through Zoom meetings. One Elementary student meets with a small group of our Primary students each day, sharing stories and a love of books with these blossoming readers.
Our Elementary and Adolescent students are staying connected with one another through literature circles, book groups, and even large group readings. Here’s a list of the books that these students at CMS have been reading to stay connected during Distance Learning:
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Students in Ms. Rachel’s Upper Elementary class have been meeting in book groups to discuss The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This classic Coretta Scott King and Newbery Honor winning book traces the story of an African American family as they travel to visit their grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama, during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. Their readings have lead to rich discussions and fabulous presentations over Zoom!
Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler and Doogie Horner
Students in Ms. Jenna’s class have been meeting in their Book Groups to read Kid Presidents with Ms. Sabreen and learning all sorts of little-known facts of our nation’s past leaders. Did you know that Bill Clinton broke his leg while jumping rope? Or that Barack Obama was bullied? With humor and engaging illustrations, this book is keeping our Lower Elementary students reading and laughing together.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Students in Ms. Tina’s class heard Peter Brown’s first chapter book as a read aloud for everyone to enjoy and discuss. When a robot named Roz wakes up on an island, she has to learn the ropes of living in the wild. Survival proves to be a challenge, and Roz learns that a community is necessary for living in nature. This book has been a powerful choice for our Elementary students to think about the collision, or collaboration, between technology and nature.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Students in our Adolescent Program are reading The Inquisitor’s Tale in their literature circle. They’re digging into this winding story of miracles, magic, and friendship.
From the book’s online description: “Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.”
We’re grateful for the connections that these books have fostered and hope that the rest of our CMS community is finding solace in a good book, too.