Using Literature to Change the Climate of Your Classroom
Let me tell you how this beautifully written story changed the climate of my classroom. It was actually by accident that I read this book on the exact day and moment that I did. By “accident” I mean that I was literally in the process of returning a pile of books to the cabinet when THIS book came in to view. The book had been a “Teacher Wish List” purchase from our last Scholastic Book Fair. I never read the story, but the cover had drawn me in.
The instance that my eyes landed on the page and I cracked a quick peek inside, I knew that I would be changing my lesson plans for the morning. I pushed everything aside, called my students back to the carpet, and began to read this story. I was so genuinely moved by the text and the simple, yet, fully complex, pictures that accompanied each thoughtful word. I gave my girls lots of eye contact and smiles, and I made sure that the boys didn’t miss a bit of the message that was being conveyed!
Beautiful is all about…. G-I-R-L-S. Plain and simple. Girls playing in mud. Girls hanging out together. Girls dressing up in costumes. Girls, just being girls. Non-stereotypical. Strong. Independent. Just-doing-their-own-thing-kinda girls.
Here are the Top 4 Reasons Why You Need THIS book:
# 1 To Build Confidence and Self-Esteem
After I read this book to my class, I had every student get their Composition notebook and pencil and sit and write about what made them beautiful. The parameters that I gave were that they were not allowed to write anything about their physical attributes. That statement stumped a few students! What? I can’t tell you how pretty my eyes are? No, you cannot. Your eyes are quite lovely, sweet First Grader, but they are not what truly make you beautiful. Think-Think-Think!
This took some time, but eventually the sentences began to flow. I walked around the room, peaking over their tiny shoulders to see what was bubbling up from their souls. I offer a few, “That’s not what makes you beautiful. Keep digging”, as I walk around. Finally, a thought that makes me stop in my tracks and almost brings tears to my eyes. One of my quietest students has written one of the most profound comments about himself. He had written, “God makes me beautiful”. The tears well up and I try really hard not to allow myself to cry. However, I make certain that he knows how absolutely amazing his self-reflection and self-acknowledgement was!
After some time, the other students begin to dig deeper and allow themselves to feel free to think of themselves in a way that may feel like showing off or being a little cocky. There’s nothing cocky about it. Finally, more sentences begin to flow. Then, I notice that 3 of my students are not writing anything. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a sad thing. A seven year-old should, typically, have a lot to say about themself. These 3 did not. One of them, a female student, was in tears. She was almost distraught. She could not think of ONE beautiful thing about herself. Not one! Why is this so?! That made me very sad. She genuinely could not find anything that was beautiful about herself.
We need to teach our students to give themselves permission to acknowledge the beauty that they possess. We also need to help show them that the beauty already exists. #Empowerment
# 2 To Ensure That Girls Know Their Self-Worth
If you had any doubt about this statement, read the last few sentences of the previous section. Right?! Girls need to know from day #1 that they are absolute Rock Stars. Not based on their looks or their outfits, but strictly because they are who they are! How important it is to let our girls get dirty and messy, and be rough and tough when they need/want to be!
We should encourage their creativity, curiosity, fearlessness, and wildest dreams. They should know that they are smart and capable. Nail polish is great, but being able to pick up a hammer and use it is just as amazing! Every little girl should know their worth. Of course, boys should, too. : – ) Knowing your worth opens doors to countless possibilities and gives you the confidence to dream bigger for yourself, and to take chances for yourself. Go to the edge and jump! See how far you can soar.
#3 Your Male Students Need to be Shown How to Have a Different Mindset for Who Girls Are and Can Be
# 4 It Will Provide an Opportunity to Tap Into Your Students’ Hearts and Minds
The book provides a great opportunity to open up this dialogue and begin this conversation (and hopefully transformation). When you provide open dialogue and/or other follow up activities, it will give you a chance to tap into how your students view themselves. This would also be a really wonderful time to take a few extra moments to tell each student what you find beautiful about them. Light bulb flashing over my head right now!!! Leave each student a handwritten note about what you find beautiful in them!!! YES!
It is also just a really fun and amazing book with graphics that do a great job at telling the story!!
Watch my Vlog on this sweet book.
Grab this book for your students!
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If you would like to extend the beautiful lessons that this story imparts, click on the image below.
Leave a comment to let me know what you and your students thought of this book.