Louise Rosenblatt, the renowned education theorist who coined the term “reader response” knew children needed to not only read, but also interact with text in a personal way, “acting out,” so to speak, the manner in which books touch our hearts, either orally, artistically, or by means of personal written reflections or group discussions. Over the Holidays, while your students/children are out of school, it is essential time is set aside to not only read, but also RESPOND to reading. Educational research studies reveal that weeks spent away from reading and reading activities (Christmas break and/or the summer months) is detrimental to reading skill development and can actually cause a child’s reading skills to regress.
NCBLA to the rescue! As your children’s friends/cousins/other youth visit over the Holidays, share a short story from Board Member Katherine Paterson’s A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories For The Christmas Season. Specifically, on the NCBLA website, Ms. Paterson has generously contributed a Readers’ Theatre script perfect for the story “Handmaiden of the Lord.” Using this sweet story about a young girl who finds herself comforting Baby Jesus – well the school play’s Baby Jesus that is – gather around nine “actors,” or ask children to adopt 2-3 roles each. Children may either memorize parts or read from the script. Get creative and ask students to develop their own set, find and add music to the production, and/or determine lighting. After the performance, ask children to share their reaction to the story, i.e. the Christmas “lesson.”
Also, don’t forget to share information about America’s hard-working Christmas tree farmers over the season. These men and women who make our homes bright and aromatic as a result of their devotion to growing the perfect “O Tannenbaum” are featured in the NCBLA web exclusive “Grand Champions of the White House,” by Renee’ Critcher Lyons. Read the article aloud to your children, and possibly a group of friends, and then facilitate one of the many suggested activities included with the article. For example, children might wish to conduct a “Grand Champion” debate (details are provided).
Have fun sharing and acting upon these fine Christmas reads! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Joyful Kwanzaa!! Happy Holidays to each and everyone!