books as windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors
“That looks just like us!” said one of the students in Ann Marie Friscia’s third-grade class, pointing to a page in the book she was reading aloud. The illustration in “This Is a School” by John Schu showed a group of children sitting on a classroom carpet while their teacher read a book to them. “Yes, that’s right,” said Friscia again and again as her students found themselves mirrored in the book.
“This Is a School” is the September community read at Meadow Pond Elementary School. “We chose the book because it introduces students to the places and people in a school and discusses the community that exists in a school,” said Assistant Principal David Bournas-Ney.
Reading “This Is a School”
Monthly community reads at each elementary school
All three of Katonah-Lewisboro elementary schools have an all-school read planned for each month. They align with monthly social-emotional learning (SEL) and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) themes such as identity and gratitude. Students across the schools will be exploring similar ideas but at different levels of depth.
This month, Katonah Elementary School and Increase Elementary School are both reading “What I Am” by Divya Srinivasan. In the book, a young narrator describes herself: a girl, a granddaughter, Indian and American. Soon, readers see the young girl as a combination of things: mean and kind, brave and mischievous.
“We chose this book because it sparks conversations about identity and affirming each other’s identities,” said Katonah Elementary School Principal Cristy Harris. One of the lessons she wants students to understand is that we are all more than what others see on the outside.
“My class had a great conversation about how sometimes you’re one way, other times you’re another way,” said Increase Miller Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Jane Emig. “You can be selfish and generous.”
“My students got into the idea that the main character danced at home but not at school,” said Increase Miller Elementary School first grade teacher Lisa Burroughs. “You can be different things in different spaces.”
Many teachers extended the learning by creating visuals which represent “I am” statements about personality, heritage and hobbies—individually, in pairs and, with older students, as a class.
“My students struggled to determine what they all have in common,” said Emig. “Then they found it—they all like cheeseburgers!”
“The book and the activity helped them develop relationships and get to know each other.”