Friday, September 6, 2013

Honoring Grandparents Who Affect the Reading Lives of Their Families


In looking back upon my childhood, I have vivid recollections of vacations in the quiet town of Rome, New York. There, each summer, I renewed a bond with my immigrant grandmother, who could neither read nor write in English, but had practical knowledge, wisdom, and a strong love for learning. Through a series of weekly walks to the library, Nonnie touched my life in an endearing manner.  With a firm grasp of my hand, she would lead me to the Children's Room to discuss new titles with the librarian. Her gentle guidance and strong desire for her grandchild to be filled with the wonder of books, instilled in me a passion for reading. On these trips, Nonnie reiterated stories of her immigrants roots, travels to America, and dreams for her family to become Americanized and well educated. Her conversations became like the threads in her sewing cabinet that pieced together a tapestry of wonder and learning. Little did I know at that time how her weekly routine of library visits would become my rite of passage as a lifelong learner and affect my future path in education. Years later, my mother continued my grandmother's tradition of library visits and reading. Images of her cuddling with my son and daughter and their favorite book or the latest library treasure provide me with precious memories of how grandparents affect the reading lives of their families. 

In memory of these two loving women who provided a legacy of learning for my family, I researched titles suitable for a National Grandparents Day read aloud. My local library had the book, Grandma's Gift by Eric Velasquez, on its shelves. This memoir of the author's visit with his grandmother in Spanish Harlem parallels my special times with my Italian grandmother, emphasizing the strong bond between grandmother and grandchild. At a lexile level of 1070 this memoir can be included in a unit on relationships for grades 4-6. While focusing on the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, the text can provide readers with a different cultural perspective on the impact of  a grandparents' influence on the future of his/her grandchild. 

Anchor Standards for Reading:
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine the central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
11. Respond to literature by employing knowledge of literary language, textural features, and forms to read and comprehend, reflect upon, and interpret literary texts from a variety of genres and wide spectrum of American and world cultures.

Beyond an oral reading, crafting text-based questions can lead students on a inquiry to delve deeply into the topic of relationships. Posing an essential question, such as "How does family play a role in shaping our values and beliefs?," opens a dialogue about the abstract gifts that grandparents give to their offspring. By doing so, you can honor grandparents this weekend and reflect on how they have and can affect the reading lives of their grandchildren.