September 2022 Featured Article


How do you feel about the calendar flip?


September brings back all kinds of emotions for me. As a former elementary school teacher I am bathed in nostalgia as I see that ninth month approaching. Yes, the school year always brought with it a huge helping of stress, work, and a long term lack of sleep, but I can’t help racalling the excitement each school year would bring.


As a spanking new teacher, I thought I knew every effective technique. I had all the bulletin boards just so. I’d written out those lesson plans in triplicate with multiple colors. Then my first students arrived and I realized I was going to have to learn much more than they in order to help us all succeed. My favorite subjects to teach, of course, were reading and writing. Ironically, I would give an annual quick survey about favorite and least favorite subjects and do you know which was inevitably the kid’s most loathed subject? Writing, hands down. I set out to fix this and my sneaky way of doing it was to incorporate as many read alouds as possible.


Not to brag, but I am a read aloud star. Voices, silly noises, emotion, I tossed it all in there and the kids responded, drawn in by the power of a well told tale. I might even have shaved off a few moments from the dreaded test prep to squeeze in that daily read aloud. You know what? I believe the children flourished more from our shared story time than any other lessons I provided. Fairy tales, mysteries, fantasy books, they all pulled the children into a world of story, a world they could participate in by creating their own stories. There was nothing so breathtaking to me as witnessing a formerly reluctant writer, hopping up and down in their eagerness to share their story with me.


Now that I’m a full time writer, I see the neighborhood kiddos marching along on the sidewalk with their new backpacks and spiffy lunch boxes. I remember the moments we’d connect over an old fashioned read aloud, and the joy students would show over writing an exciting story of their own. Such pride and promise, and I was privileged to be a part of their journey.

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