I began teaching children’s literature to college students in 1997. As the years have passed, I became convinced about how important it is for teachers and parents to read children’s and adolescent literature. Whether you are teaching 5 year-olds or 15 year-olds, I don’t think there is any better way to remind yourself how children function than by reading literature featuring young characters. Each time I read a new children’s novel I feel a deeper connection to kids. I believe that good teachers read children’s literature.
I just finished reading the current Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Abilene Tucker, the main character, is sent by her father to the town of Manifest for the summer. True to it’s name, the town and citizens reveal to Abilene their unusual history and how her father fits into their existence. The town folk also have a few things manifested to them as Abilene searches through the history of the town. I think the manifestation that came to me during reading is how children interpret what they are told using what background knowledge they have acquired. It reminded me again that when you tell a child something, your interpretation of those instructions may not be the same translation in the child’s head. Children can create an entirely different experience out of the simplest suggestion.
You learn a lot about children by reading. Check out Moon Over Manifest and see what is manifested to you.