Looking back at this forgotten blog, I realized it's been a year since I've written a post and two years since I've joined the Slice of Life Story Challenge. This is their 12th annual SOLSC, and I believe it will be my 5th. This is the first one I've joined without students since I'm not in the classroom anymore and am an education consultant and gifted coordinator, so it feels a little odd trying to figure out what this blog means when not writing alongside young writers. In fact, this blog hasn't been forgotten at all, just neglected. It's been in the back of mind, simmering; I just haven't figured out what it needs to be in my new role as a consultant, coach, and coordinator. Maybe a new focus will emerge. I'm still a reader. I'm still a teacher. I'm definitely still a learner. And surely...I'm still a writer.
Thinking about daily writing for 31 days in a row is daunting, so I'm going to take my friend and colleague's, Angela Faulhaber's text advice, "Don't think about the whole month. Just think about this one." So here it goes...
In most of the SOLSC years, I've chosen a theme topic as a way to focus and inspire writing. I did the same thing in teaching! I'm going to try that again even though I may sway from it now and then. I'm going to use a picture book as an invitation to writing each day. I love picture books. They are essential to the soul. They are small, affordable, brilliant works of art. They are efficient yet powerful. They are for all ages. They are for all content areas. They are for every kind of learner. Hang around me long enough, and I will most likely read one to you aloud. It doesn't matter that I don't have a captive audience in my classroom anymore - I have groups of teachers, friends, educator gatherings, and my own family! And Ben, my dog. (No, I haven't actually read one to him.)
One of my new favorites is the remember balloons by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. I've read it at several professional learning experiences lately, and haven't been able to get through it without getting teary. Neither have the teachers! I love thinking about the possibilities of this book with kids and writing. When sharing this book with educators, I invite them to write about one of their balloons...
I'm writing this on the last day of February, and it will be shared on the first day of March, so it it is only fitting that one of my remember balloons involves Katie (February 26th birthday) and Libby (March 17th birthday) and books. Books were always a part of my life and a part of theirs. One of our routines was reading a book (or two or three) before bed. When Libby was little, she would gather up ALL her stuffed animals to bring to bed. It was quite a production! We have video of it in our home movie archives. She would insist on ALL of them before she could settle in. Then it was a book. If it was a book that I had read a million times, I would try to skip a few words...or sentences to make it go faster. Have any other parents out there done that?! She would have none of that! She had memorized her beloved books well enough to know a cheater when she heard one.
When Katie joined the family, it was challenging to find books to read aloud that entertained both as they got older. I probably traumatized Katie, being the youngest, with some of our choices. I remember Poppy by Avi (some nail-biting parts with Mr. Ocax) and Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. I was crying so hard trying to finish Stone Fox that I handed it to Libby to keep reading, and she was crying, too, so couldn't finish! Poor Katie had no idea what was going on! Thank God they're still both readers, so they weren't scarred too badly. They still ask my for recommendations, so that's good. Although, I've gotten a text or two that begins, "Typical Mom book..."
Remember Balloons is a beautiful book with an important theme. Stories and memories stay with us forever. When we share them, they become a part of someone else. And that can never be forgotten.