About eight years ago I attended the visitation of a local high school art teacher. I remember standing for hours in a very long line to pay my respects to his family. Students, teachers, family members, friends, administrators, and community members gathered in the sanctuary, congregated in the lobby, and spilled out onto the sidewalk and parking lot. At some point, I looked around and noted that this man had left a legacy. He mattered to A LOT of people. He touched lives. His teaching, humor, caring, and passion for art made people feel cared about and inspired. I remember wondering if all of us would leave a legacy like that someday. He was taken too soon, but when he was here, he made a difference. Just two years ago, I lost a very dear friend who had left a similar legacy - one of laughter, friendship, and priceless memories. At his funeral, two of my best friends' daughters sang "For Good" from Wicked. He was one of their biggest fans! If you haven't heard Kristin Chenowith's version, you must! It captures the idea of leaving a legacy perfectly.
I read A LOT of books. I like all kinds of books - picture books to adult..fiction, nonfiction...many formats. My favorite, though, are books about leaving a legacy. This coming school year I'd like to do a unit on it. I'd like my students to think about what it means to leave something behind. How do we define a legacy? It doesn't have to be about death. It can be when you leave one school for another, or a neighborhood, or any experience. What do you leave behind? How do you want people to remember you? Did you contribute something? Improve your environment? Live life to the fullest? Love the best you could? Were you a good friend? Here are some books that I think capture the idea of a legacy to perfection. I chose fictional books because there are a lot of biographies and memoirs out there that by their very nature are about leaving a legacy, so I'm not including those - there would be too many! However, memoir would be a perfect writing extension when thinking about this theme topic. Look for a future post about that!
What are some of your favorite fiction books for teaching us that what we leave behind matters?