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Monday, January 3, 2011

A Snowy Day Thought

It snowed again today, adding a sparkling layer to the already tall snowbanks. The lovely snow globe scene outside the library windows was in sharp contrast to the blizzard we witnessed a few weeks ago. Fortuitously, the read-aloud selection for library time prior to that storm was Carol Otis Hurst's Terrible Storm in which she recounts her grandfathers' experiences in Westfield, Massachusetts during the Blizzard of 1888. Students loved how the each grandpa shared his version of the blizzard and endured the opposite of what he preferred (one was social and one liked being alone). When I brought out Jim Murphy's Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America and showed them the actual photographs of that intense storm, they were mesmerized and overflowing with questions and comments. Little did we know our community would be faced with problems similar to those of the Northeastern United States more than 100 years ago.

Two weeks later we shared The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright, set probably 50 or so years ago. Ronald Himler's watercolor illustrations reminded the children of the blizzard they had just experienced, and they laughed along with the Billy when he tells his father they have company. In fact, they have all the children of the nearby one-room schoolhouse since not a one can get home in the storm. One third grade class suggested it would be great if we all got stranded at school. "You could get a microphone at the desk and read aloud bedtime stories to everyone," a student told me.

I love how these books created background knowledge for students who were not yet born when the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 dumped snow on our city...and then helped them extend that understanding to the schoolchildren's experiences in a different book.


  1. I love how you enrich the children's experiences, make them stop and look at what is around them, help them to understand a snowstorm, to get perspective on their experience of it, how it is different/how it is like snowstorms of other places, other times. The very best in education going on there.

  2. They help me see things I might have overlooked as well. That's why I had to start writing this. I need to reflect on all the things I learn each day.

  3. I want YOU to read aloud to me every night! Can you do a podcast? Pretty please???

  4. Think of how long it took me to get to this stage! I have to consider that option, Joyce. It has a certain appeal.