Thursday, March 3, 2011

rooting for the underdog

Wednesday was National Read Across America Day. Serendipitously, the Bookendipity Book Club of Rama Road Elementary met this week as well. Two boys and lots of girls attended, some of the dearest 4th and 5th graders you could ever meet. We discussed Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, about a girl their age who befriends a stray dog in the grocery store. To break the ice, Amanda and I brought in a poster with pictures of dogs pasted on it and asked the children to vote for the one they would most want to adopt from the pound: an hilarious pug, a friendly Lab, a fluffy golden poodle, a scruffy mutt, a snooty-looking dachsund, even a chihuahua in a pink outfit! Secret ballots were counted during snack and the results were surprising. Almost every one of the children picked a non-descript puppy that I had included on the poster as an after-thought, even preferring it over the adorable mutt who actually played Winn Dixie in the movie!

"He looks lonely."
"I think he needs a friend."
"His eyes are sad."
"See the way his head is tilted? He's scared."
"I know I could make him happy!"

The funny thing is that the two of us adults didn't see it that way at all, until the kids convinced us. By current calculation, more than 85% of the Rama Road students live in poverty. They're working awfully hard to rise above what statistics say lies ahead for them. Don't count them out. They may not have much at all. But they sure have a lot to give.

1 comment:

Bellezza said...

There's nothing like the beauty and freshness of a child's perspective. I think your idea of bringing in the dog photographs is wonderful! There are so many good things to do with this novel, my personal favorite of Kate DiCamillo's. I've had my class write what Litmus Lozenges taste like, which has often provided thought provoking responses. We celebrated Read Across America day as well, only we read Eleanor Estes' A Hundred Dresses. Such a heartbreaking book on bullying, but sad in a good, you-can-learn-from-this way.