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Connecting With Students Through Literature

I simply geeked out. I'm not even kidding.

She was wearing Harry Potter glasses and midway through our conference I noticed and I had to stop.

Yes, it was a college essay conference and we talked about her writing, but this connection warranted a break from the norm and further exploration.

"Wait! Are those Harry Potter glasses you're wearing? Can I see them?"

I'm positively frenetic. I'm certain I've frightened her, but she could visibly see my excitement, so she took her glasses off her face and handed them to me.

"Oh my god! These are so cool! You like Harry Potter? I LOVE Harry Potter. I've read the whole series like 100 times with my son. Sometimes we have marathons and watch our way through Harry's experiences."

"I've always wanted to do that. My mom loves Harry Potter too. She reads them in Korean. She doesn't read in English."

"Wow. That's so cool. It's crazy how Harry Potter transcends language. A few years ago I took my son, Logan to Universal just to go Hogsmeade, and to be honest, it was more about me than him. I'll go back again, but with my friends. Even though he is older, I think I would like to go for me this time."

"I love Universal. I've been there too. I have been looking for a good butterbeer recipe since I went."

Anyway, you get the point, we ended up talking for the rest of the period. Ironically when she first sat down she told me she was socially awkward. Frankly, I beg to differ, this kid is super cool and it is truly unfortunate if students her age don't get it.

The conversation carried on like this for a little while and it dawned on me as the conversation drifted away from our love of the wizarding world to other fantastical literature how much literature connects people. Whether it is a deep connection with a character or place, it really does move beyond our day-to-day and resonates on such a deeper level.

As teachers, we have an obligation to find this common denominator to help students really connect to learning and literature they would have never found on their own.

The way we present new literature to students has the potential to change everything. Students don't know that they like or dislike something they have never been exposed to.

How do you introduce kids to new literature? Is it an awkward first date or a magical one? Which one would you want to participate in? Please share

This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in August of 2016.


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