I was digging in my hope chest the other day and came across one of my favorite college projects. I remembered the professor saying “create something that showed your journey as a reader”. I choose to imitate a cardboard grandfather clock with 12 little golden hour books that I received one Christmas. For whatever reasons, I always connect this gift to my grandfather but I really don’t know who gave it to me. I have a few of the original books left: “Littlest Raccoon,” Tommy’s Camping Adventure,” “Colors are Nice,” “Four Little Kittens,” “Little Conttontail” but they are not in the greatest of shape. They are starting to smell like old books now but the smell of the books on Christmas morning is ever present in my memories.
I used these little 5 x 3 books to find a box that was just the right size, covered it in brown wrapping paper, added the title “Reading Through Time: A Reading Autobiography” and pasted on a classic clock face. Then the real project began. I made 12 little books outlining my growth as a reader from my earliest memories on. Chapter 1 talks about when I received the books and clock, Chapter 2 recalls all my favorite books from my childhood. Since I hadn’t really seen some of these books in a while I couldn’t remember their names so I described their contents and pictures. Chapter 3 describes my feelings while checking out books in our one room public library in Holly, Colorado. Chapter 4 covered my teen years and how I used books to escape my peers, teachers & family. Chapter 5 lists my favorite novels and why I liked them. Chapter 6 talks about moving into college and what a shock it was to walk into a huge, huge libraries. Chapter 7 begins my rewarding career as a parent teaching my children to read, Chapter 8 goes into my adulthood purposes for reading. The last two books deal with my reading goals and sharing my passion with children.
As a teacher now, I see the value of a project like this and appreciate the foresight of the professor in assigning it in such a vague way. It to reflected my unique history, my growth and it is now a keepsake to share with my students and grandchildren.
Here’s your challenge: put forth an assignment for your students that causes them to delve into their uniqueness and then ALLOW them to show you what they know. Encourage them to create without limits. Set expectations of uniqueness, thinking and reflection not quantity. There is always a place for rote memorization, worksheets and tests but you won’t find those in their hope chest!