When it won, I got it out from the library again, reread it, appreciated it more, and then read it to my two 5th grade classes and two 6th grade classes. My perspective immediately changed. They loved it. They connected to it. They were sad, then happy. They adored Beekle immediately and were rooting for him. They loved his new friend. We told stories of imaginary friends and security objects. They LOVED Beekle.
After I read the book, I told my students the story of my daughter, Libby's, imaginary friend, Jessica. Jessica was very much a part of our family when Libby was young. Sometimes we had to make room for Jessica in the car or at the table, she was frequently talked about and referred to, and sometimes, Libby BECAME Jessica. It was very interesting... After a period of time when we didn't hear about Jessica much, we asked about her. Libby informed us that she had gone off to college. That was the end of Jessica.
Katie, our youngest daughter, tried very hard to have an imaginary friend. Libby tried to help her out by creating many different personalities, names, profiles, etc. Katie would try them out, but in the end, her sentiments were, "This is stupid." So clearly, imaginary friends aren't for everyone. Katie has a very serious security object instead - a stuffed dog Libby gave her for Christmas when she was about three, named Sunny. Katie has never spent a night without her.
These stories brought on an avalanche of stories from my students. I charged them to write about them in that week's Slice of Life on their Kidblogs. I'd love to share a few with you today:
This is why I love books. Books like Beekle give kids permission to be who they are. They make kids' stories matter. They inspire imagination, differences, and connectedness. Thank you, Dan Santat, for this magical picture book. The Caldecott committee knew what they were doing. Beekle has become a beloved member of our classroom.