So there’s this new book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. Up until the ending, it is a really good, hilarious picture book. Then, bam! Right at the end something happens, (I won’t tell you what, because you know, spoilers) and it becomes a mind-blowing masterpiece. Go read it. It might be my favorite picture book, ever. Please, send me your theories as to what exactly happens at the end when you do. I’m collecting them, and I’ve gotten lots from students and colleagues. I’ve become a little obsessed. Ask my wife. I’ve been texting her the different theories I’ve collected, and she’s simply stopped responding to my texts. Here’s Travis Jonker’s list of theories. I don’t recommend you read them until you’ve read the book, though.
Anyways, I knew this book was going to be a great read aloud, and that it would lead to some awesome discussion, and I wasn’t disappointed. Almost as soon as I finish reading the book, every class so far, has been full of students eagerly raising their hands to share their theories, and they’ve all been really good, thoughtful theories. After I finish reading, I always let the kids get up and start looking for their books, and every class has had a cluster of students left hanging around the reading rug discussing the book, and sharing ideas. It’s basically what I want every post-storytime to look like.
When I was in the thick of collecting new theories, (I was seriously carrying the book around the school, giving it to coworkers, students, parents, really anyone who looked like they had a moment, and saying, “Can you read this and tell me what you think?”) I decided that some adolescent perspective might be good, so I got three of my high school shelvers to read it. While they were reading it, I eagerly waited for them to start shouting theories at me, like the elementary students had, but it didn’t happen. “So…” I asked, “What do you think happened?” One of the boys just said, “I dunno.” “What do you think?” “I dunno.” “You don’t have any theories?” “Not really.” To be fair, the third High Schooler, a 10th grade girl, did eventually give me some theories after a lot of prodding. The other two though, simply didn’t want to speculate.
The hole thing left me wondering. What happens to a kid’s curiosity when they go through puberty? Does it simply dissolve? It made me really grateful that I work with the age group that I do.
Later , I was reading a different book, The Book With No Pictures, to a class of first graders. It’s a hilarious read aloud, and the basic premise is, the book (I guess the book is a character) is trying to get the reader to say silly things that he or she doesn’t want to say. One of the lines is, “And my head is made of blueberry pizza.” I noticed something when I read that line aloud. Several of the kids glanced up from the book, and at my head, as if they really expected that just maybe, me reading that line had actually transformed my head into a blueberry pizza. That just floored me. Kids have such a strong imagination, such a vivid belief that anything is possible. They are unpredictable and fun, all of the time. That’s why I love working with this group, and the reason that I love my job. Every day, I get to make kids laugh, I get to make them think, I get to make them wonder. For me, there couldn’t be a better job out there.