I’m a huge fan of Naperville Reads. The collaboration between Anderson’s Booksellers, District 203 & 204, and the Naperville Public Library has brought some amazing authors to our community. The chance to listen and learn from these talented individuals has proved inspirational for our students, teachers, and parents.
The 2013 selection of R.J. Palacio and her debut novel, Wonder, was an exciting announcement! Many classes were already reading this story since it was on our district Battle of the Books list, but Naperville Reads brought it to a whole new level. Myriad classroom teachers choose to read aloud and had rich discussions surrounding Auggie’s experiences.
A national movement behind the book inspired the Choose Kind web site encouraging others to pledge kindness. In order to welcome the author to our district, the committee suggested we create a poster and have students/teachers sign a “choose kind” certificate. This is where our story diverges.
I don’t know about you, but signing a sheet of paper and making another poster seemed like an empty promise and a disposable thank you. This book speaks to your core. This character wants what everyone wants, acceptance. Part of my drive could be all the similarities I could draw from my brother’s experiences with Down Syndrome and the conversations we’ve had about his struggle to fit in. I felt we could do more.
I believe in the Choose Kind pledge and wanted our students to sign up, but I needed a more powerful and lasting way for them to remember and reflect on what kindness really means. Inspired by the work of Robert Fogarty and the countless others who’ve previously demonstrated the power of photography + words, I finally had my method. Students would write down their pledge and we would document it visually. Thus began our Naperville Reads 2013: Choose Kind video pledge:
*Next installment I’ll share how I made this happen and how you too can do this at your school.