It’s been three years since I’ve been able to put together a collection of allegorical fiction with my fifth graders, but this year we’re doing it!
I always love this project because it taps into the wealth of wisdom, perspective and potential these kids carry with them. I mean, I see it in them, and it makes my heart smile when they recognize it within themselves.
For each collection, I spend hours – hours! – cultivating the anthology, breaking it up into meaningful sections that flow from one into the other. And then there’s writing the introduction and finding the epigraph to bring it all together.
And I haven’t quite got the order of the book down, but I have composed the introduction. I’m sharing it here as a preview. I like doing this kind of writing. It allows me to love on my kids a little extra. Enjoy.
So much has happened between the publishing of Volumes 3 and 4 of this collection. COVID upended our lives, bringing fear, disruption, and trauma with it. The spectre of war, climate change and conflict looms large in our world. The quest for truth and justice has become clouded by the question of what truth even is anymore.
And our children, they see it.
They take notice.
Whether or not we wish them to, our children pay attention to the world around them. They watch. They listen. As they do, they begin to develop their own sense of justice, of right and wrong. They need us to hear their wisdom, and to stop underestimating their power because they’re young.
Their concerns, their frustrations, and yes, even some of their anger, are all represented here in a powerful collection of allegorical fiction.
Read their work. Hear their voices.
-Lainie Levin, 2022
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Elie Wiesel
Post script: I’m not usually so stark and plain in my language for these introductions. And yet, I can’t think of any other way to express what I need to say for this particular collection. So…here it is.
17 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Book Teaser”
There is power in seeing our words published. This collection gives your students a chance to be heard by more than just their classmates. It tells them that what they have to say is important and should not be discounted just because of their age.
Thank you! I can only hope they carry the same sense of empowerment forward. A teacher can dream…
They need us to hear their wisdom, and to stop underestimating their power because they’re young. << THIS. We're quick to acknowledge the hidden wisdoms that sprout 'from the mouths of babes." But somewhere between around primary school we [adults] stop listening to them not realizing they 'hear' that too. Like so much of what you do with your students I think this is fantastic. They are going to be absolutely over the moon seeing their words collected and appreciated like this.
Right? We are so quick to dismiss or laugh off what kids say is cute, or precious. Believe me, that is the LAST thing these kids want. They are full-on human people, and they wish to be treated as such.
I’m excited for them to see their volume in publication. =))
I wish I’d had a teacher like you when I was in fifth grade.
Well, thank you! I think there’s always a part of my teacher-self who wants to be the teacher that my younger self really needed. One kid a a time… ❤
…by the way. I tried to post a comment on your blog and my website wouldn’t let me. DARN! But I would have said…
First of all? You had me at Pete Seeger. As for the relationship with rats, I guess I have a complicated one. There’s the suspicion and the disgust from living in cities like Chicago and DC.
But there’s also the other side. After all, I *did* have two pet rats (Pinky and The Brain, if you can believe it) as classroom pets…
Oh to be a student in your class . . . what a gift! What are some of the most popular subjects of allegories that your students write? Or are they mostly reading?
Thanks! I just want to be the kind of teacher *I* wish I had, the kind of teacher I needed growing up. Maybe there’s a piece in many of us that works the same?
As for the choices they made for their allegories, we did read several allegorical picture books, and the kids also read the previous published volumes from other classes. For the writing component, I started my kids with a list of problems with the world, and they rated their response on a “dissatisfaction spectrum,” all the way from apathy to outrage. Anything they flagged as outrage was a candidate for their stories. Many of them this year chose things like gender discrimination, or pollution/climate change. I also had kids this year writing about drugs, about mental health, and war.
What a great caring teacher you are. The kids are lucky. I am lucky you are in my life. Love you.
Aw thanks, Mom! And I feel exactly the same about you. Hopefully I tell you often enough. ❤
Children DO take note – and I’m often amazed by their wisdom, their way of seeing and processing the world. This anthology is a labor of love. I recall the first time a teacher told me my writing was powerful. I was nine or ten. It shocked me. I’d never thought of writing as having any power before that, let alone my own. I suppose that’s when the writer in me came to life… how fortunate are your students, and I can only imagine the absolute gold this book will be to them.
Thank you! I do know that the kids really enjoyed the hour or so they spent browsing the book when I first put it out. Of course they all went straight to their own stories (what 10-11 year-old wouldn’t?) and it was wonderful to see how pleased and proud they were of being a part of the project.
And thank you for sharing your own story of your writing awakening. I can only hope there are a couple of loveys from this group who felt a similar way. A teacher can dream…
I love class books. I used to make them with my 4th grade classes and the students would take such pride in their book submissions. The students in your school are blessed to have your writing expertise and your energy to take their writing over and beyond. 🙂
Thank you! It’s funny you should mention. I have ALL of the class books my students have created, from. 27 years of teaching. Let me tell you…it’s as BLAST to go through that bin every so often and go down memory lane!
Being stark and direct matters in times like these. When you wrote:
“Their concerns, their frustrations, and yes, even some of their anger, are all represented here in a powerful collection of allegorical fiction.
Read their work. Hear their voices.”
I thought… how lucky your students are to have YOU as their teacher, guiding them, helping them use their voices, and then sharing it for others to read. So impressive!
Thank you. I’m hoping my kids see the writing as just the start of their influence on this world. That, I’m guessing, will be a while in coming, though…