Deborah Hopkinson‘s A Letter to my Teacher (2017, Schwartz & Wade Books) will be the first read-aloud text in my methods course next fall.
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter, this children’s picture book introduces readers to an exasperatingly curious and vivacious young girl who is lucky enough to have the perfect second grade teacher.
Written in the form of a letter to her former second grade teacher, A Letter to my Teacher is a tribute to all of the curious students in our classes and the teachers who nurture them. Although the young girl provides her teacher several opportunities (e.g., heading off on her own during a field trip, not being the best caretaker for the class pet during Thanksgiving break, and yelling out during the read-aloud) to discipline her, her teacher only encourages her. The teacher knows that her student needs more confidence as a reader, but she focuses more on developing the person. She also knows she has to connect with her student before she can help her develop as a reader.
I am reading Susan Engel’s (2015) The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness – Not Money – Would Transform Our Schools right now, and I could not help notice how A Letter to my Teacher reveals the wonderful learning possible when students are allowed to explore the world around them in authentic ways. The narrator does not thank her teacher for teaching particular skills or standards but for fostering her curiosity and cultivating her sense of self. As a literacy educator, this is exactly the vision for teaching and learning I hope to inspire in my methods students.
Not only a great book for young children, A Letter to my Teachers is a great book for the methods classroom or as a gift for any teacher you know!