A Mindful Celebration of World Book Day
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Hey inspiring teacher,
Trying to keep yours and your students´ spirits up during this strange time could feel challenging. I´ll tell you what I find really overwhelming – keeping social-distancing. Even though I am aware this is the right thing to do, I feel awkward every time I have to divert off my route on my daily walk when someone is approaching me. I sense how my body gets tense and I want to shout out “I AM ALRIGHT. There´s nothing wrong with me!” So I pause for a second, smile kindly at the person to shake off the tension and continue my walk.
How does social distancing make you feel?
This reminds of the time when I started teaching online eight years ago. I was rebelling against the fact that a computer screen kept me apart from my students. Fortunately, during the years I have worked out my own ways to connect with my students at a deeper level. Building up a strong sense of connectedness with them is something I feel is of crucial importance and I know you would agree with me.
Exactly! I knew you would say YES!
One of the ways I strengthen this relationship is by befriending my students´ interests. We read stories/ books together, watch inspirational videos and create puppet shows. One thing I´ve come to realise in the last couple of years is that I´ve watched cartoons, read children´s books and played with more dolls than I can remember.
That´s what I call a pure blessing in disguise!
Mentioning books, especially now when we have to stay at home, they offer us the opportunity to visit known and unknown worlds through their pages. So reading an inspiring book/story with your students is something I recommend wholeheartedly. At the end of the post, you´ll find a list of some of the books I have been reading with my students recently.
So since it is World Book Day this Thursday, 23rd April, I decided to share with you a mindful way to celebrate love for books. Here in the UK, we celebrate International Day of the Book on 4th March and this is a mindful writing activity that I did with my students a month ago.
We talked about the importance of reading books and what genre they prefer. Some extra questions to consider:
1. What is your favourite book?
2. Who´s your favourite book character?
3. Do you prefer reading ebooks or their paper version?
4. Why are more and more people turning to ebooks and audiobooks?
Please, choose questions which are appropriate for your students´ level and age.
I have written a few blog posts about using meditations in the EFL classroom. One of them is Meditate your way to English where I explain further why it is a good idea to use this mindful tool and how it could be applied in our English lessons. There´s something very powerful in creating stillness in the mind which enables us to tap into our imagination.
So I played the meditation BEING AWARE in order to prepare the students for the follow-up writing activity. It is suitable for teens and adults (level B1 +)
NB. If you have not done a meditation with your students before, please, make sure that all
mobile devices have been switched off. If you have the chance, you can sit on the floor or
rearrange the chairs for this activity. Invite the students to close their eyes while listening.
However, if this brings them discomfort or you are aware of students, who suffer from anxiety, kindly encourage them to soften their gaze or look at the floor. You may want to explain this in L1 if you feel to.
After the meditation I read a writing prompt. I have three writing prompts which I did with different students so choose one which you find appropriate or you could read out three of them and they can choose one they feel closer to their heart. I gave my students 15 min to write and it was wonderful to see how the meditation had unleashed their creativity.
Writing prompt 1:
Imagine you could meet your favourite book character. Write a dialogue between two of you.
I have to admit I heard lots of dialogues with Harry Potter or Hermione.
Writing prompt 2
Imagine you met your favourite book character. Describe a day you spent with him/her.
Writing prompt 3
Write a dialogue between a book character and an object they are associated with, for instance, Harry Potter and his magic wand.
This prompt came about after one of my students claimed she could not imagine that her favourite book character would sit next to her. So when she said “I usually talk to objects around me.”, I provoked her to write a dialogue between a book character and an object he/she is associated with. We had just finished reading the book “Pollyanna grows up” so I suggested writing a conversation between Jamie (a disabled boy) and his crutches. She gladly accepted my challenge and oh, boy, I am so happy I listened to my student. This is what she wrote:
Jamie was sitting by his bed, thinking of his lame legs. He had a feeling that his legs were rubbish. They couldn't stand by themselves. They couldn't jump or run. He felt really sad. Suddenly he heard a voice.
"Jamie," the voice said.
Jamie looked up, turned his head around, "Who's there?"
"It's me, Jamie, your crutches.” said the voice.
Jamie looked at his crutches at once. It didn't seem to change much.
"Let's talk, Jamie, my old friend," hissed the voice, "Yes, let's talk. How do you feel about your lame legs?"
"Er - uncomfortable," said Jamie, "yeah, extremely uncomfortable. I can't run or jump like the others. That took a lot of fun out of my life."
"Sure, you can feel bad about that." that voice seemed to lighten up a little, "That's the outside. What about the inside? Have you ever taken a look deep inside yourself? That's who you're meant to be. You are Jamie. You are positive and smart. So don't feel shame about your legs. They make you more unique. They make you the only Jamie in the world. So take great care of yourself and see who you are inside."
Then the voice disappeared. Just like it has never been there before. Is this just a dream? Jamie thought. But then, he truly felt he was unique and powerful.
Sissy Ma, 13, China
Hearing my student´s story left me speechless. I was happy that I tweaked the prompt and let her follow her intuition.
Please, share with me the stories/dialogues your students have come up with.
And finally, as promised, here are some of the books I have been reading with my young learners recently:
The power in me by Meaghan Axel
A time to fly by Nancy Cartie
All the wonderful books by Cathy Domoney
The secret garden by Frances Burnett
Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
Pollyanna grows up by Eleanor Porter
Ami child of the stars by Enrique Barrios
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Ollie and his superpowers by Alison Knowles
What books do you engage your students with?
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Until we meet again, be blessed