Week One: In the books!

I have been knee deep in books all week trying to read everything I can before I fall asleep from pure exhaustion. It’s been a rough first week of school but I am so excited! I get to read actual fun books (and yes Professional Development books are fun) and by having them as an “assignment” I can justify to myself that reading Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel counts. If you haven’t read Phoebe and Her Unicorn I recommend it, but more so I recommend graphic novels and audiobooks for those “picky” readers. I had just myself to play with growing up so I spent a lot of time reading, but that is not the case for everyone. I only really started getting into audiobooks and graphic novels in recent years, but every time I hear someone say their kid likes graphic novels or audiobooks I always insert myself into that conversation because I want to know the why.

I have a friend whose son is eight and he is listening to the Harry Potter Books on audio cd. I asked his mom if he likes audio, and she said he loves it. I personally am a physical paper copy type of girl, but whatever gets kids interested in books and reading is worth trying. Some kids don’t like to read simply because they aren’t strong readers not because they don’t like books. When a pleasurable activity becomes a chore most kids won’t be interested anymore. I know I hated assigned reading in high school and college and I love reading!

I’m excited to be taking a course that will help teach English Language Arts, but I already know that as a teacher I just need to do two things: I need to model reading and writing. I  know that is not all I need to do, but if I come to class every day prepared to read and write just like my students it shows them I value reading and writing-it’s not just a task I want them to do.

I have slowly been discovering my voice through the power of poetry-something I never thought I would do. I have never really liked poetry, but words have a way of expressing feelings you never could have thought possible. Words are crazy beautiful things that can open up a whole new world for students only if we show students that it doesn’t have to be a chore but a way to express themselves and discover their own unique voices.

-A

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My Professional Year

The 2017 fall semester is the start of my professional year as they call it in the education department. If all goes well and I pass all my classes I will be student teaching next spring. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time but after 4 years of college (this will be my fourth year) I am ready and done.

This fall I am taking several classes and two of them are Methods and Novels. If you are in either of those classes and are trying to read my blog posts just look at the categories tab on the right of the screen and look for Novels or Methods. If you aren’t in any of my classes and simply follow my blog because you enjoy what I have to say you don’t have to worry about that at all. Please feel free to explore any of the categories as I try my hardest to update the book reviews category as I read the books.

-A

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

I’ve always enjoyed books that focus on the aftermath of an event because we never talk about it. I think that is the reason I liked Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher so much because it was life after suicide. And We Stay is also the story of the after, after Emily Beam’s boyfriend kills himself in the school library. It is the story after her abortion and the guilt that drives Paul Wagoner to kill himself in front of his girlfriend.

We as a society don’t often talk about the after. We either focus on the before or the event itself but never the after. Why was there so much personal outcry against Thirteen Reasons Why? This is just my opinion but I think because it talked about the after.. Hannah Baker couldn’t be saved and we as a society couldn’t accept the fact that suicide happens and people are successful at it. It’s a sensitive subject because we probably all know someone who has committed suicide and we don’t want to talk about it because it hurts too much. We need to talk about it. I cannot stress how much we need to talk about it because there are kids out there hurting who feel they can’t talk about their suicidal thoughts because then they would get labeled. There is such a stigmatism surrounding suicide that some people are fearful of talking about it because they are not sure how people would react.

A girl recently convinced her boyfriend to commit suicide and that is tragic. Her boyfriend reached out to her and she obviously did not help him but let us use this as an opportunity to talk about suicide. I’m sure everyone at some point in their life has thought “why go on?”. However will any of us openly and publicly admit this? Why?

We live in a world where Netflix can take a book about suicide, make it into a tv show and then in everyone’s opinion “glorify” suicide. I admit I haven’t watched the entire series nor do I plan to simply because of Netflix’s decision to show Hannah’s suicide and not in the way she did it in the book. However that hasn’t stopped me from rereading the book I loved as a middle schooler and still do. I know this is not a review of Thirteen Reasons Why but what And We Stay and Jay Asher’s novel have in common is suicide a subject that is never talked about enough. Jay Asher wrote a story about a girl who committed suicide. It happens and we cannot ignore it by saying people shouldn’t write about it. It’s like saying let’s not write YA novels about love. As much as I would love to say that teens don’t think about and/or commit suicide it happens. I still shake my head at a comment I read about Thirteen Reasons Why which essentially said Hannah could have handled her suicide better. First of all Hannah is a fictional character. Second of all suicide is a tragedy and it doesn’t matter how we handle it because for someone to get so sick of life that they wish to end theirs is just awful. I don’t care how they do it what matters is that they feel life is no longer worth living.

I’m reminded of the scene in the book Thirteen Reasons Why when Hannah wrote the word suicide on a slip of paper and the remarks her fellow students made. Lots of people say those things because we don’t want to talk about suicide. We hope that by saying “it is  a selfish decision”, “why would you want to kill yourself” and “think of those you are leaving behind” that somehow it will make everything better. Actually being there for people and listening to them when they are hurting is going to help more than just making blanket statements about suicide.

What about those of us left behind wondering what went so horribly wrong? Emily Beam, a fictional character, is left wondering that as well. She made a hard life choice to abort her child and then she lost the only other person she could turn to. She turned to Emily Dickinson to help her and this is why literature that talks about death and suicide is so important. Sometimes the only place hurting people can turn is to stories that mirror their own life. I am an introvert and as I explore the world of introverts I find that I am not alone and that when I want to be I can be an extrovert. I read an amazing book called FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell and it was the first time I found myself staring into a mirror as I read the story of Cath the introvert. I had never before read a book that so perfectly described my life and it makes me sad to think that it took me 20 years to find a book that described me.

Thirteen Reasons Why and And We Stay are those books for people who are reeling from a suicide of someone they know. We need to be able to talk about the “tough” subjects because if we simply ignore them those students/people who are hurting and need to talk about suicide, depression, anxiety, or whatever else you are dealing with they are not going to get the help they need.

 

Recommended Reading:

After by Amy Efaw

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

-A