Come With Me
Sometimes a picture book comes along at the perfect moment and touches each and every reader. That is exactly what occurred with Holly McGhee’s picture book Come with Me.
By the way, the title of this blog post comes directly from Holly’s picture book Come with Me. I tried to come up with something new and different, but this title fits so well with both the book and what I want to write about. I thought why not stick with what works and what to me is perfection.
I received a copy of Come with Me from the author herself. I remember being amazed and touched by the text and illustrations. It was obvious that this would be a picture book that I would use with my students.
Our first experience with the book occurred the last week of September. I shared with my fourth graders how I came to know both Holly and her newest work of fiction. If I can share a personal experience about either an author and/or book, it becomes more meaningful to my listeners.
The first time we shared the text, I read through its entirety. After I finished, the listeners shared their “noticing” and “wondering” statements. This is a new strategy I began during last year and found it powerful, engaging, and purposeful.
We then did a second reading and stopped throughout the book to talk about specific pages, passages, and illustrations. I was amazed at how quickly the fourth graders were able to grasp the meaning, message, and theme of the story. They GOT it! We talked about various real-life events that had happened and how it is important to be brave and courageous during these difficult times.
The next day we shared the story again and following the reading, my writers got busy writing their own versions of Come with Me. They could use Holly’s version as a mentor text and/or write what they do, or could do, during times of stress, anger, or fear. It was astonishing how quickly they headed off to their writing spots and put the pencil to paper. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but was anxious to see their writing product.
I wish I had the time, and space, to share some of the writing here; but know each writer shared a personal version of what the story meant to them, what they could do to make the world a better place, or fictional version. The sharing of our writing was a beautiful experience and I could tell the “products” were meaningful to each young writing.
The following week our country experienced the largest mass shooting in our history. As we discussed it during our morning meeting, several students shared personal stories and/or connections. During one of these discussions, I glanced over at the book tray and saw Come with Me. The feeling I had at the moment hit me like a ton of bricks. This was the picture book we needed at that very moment.
I told the class I was going to reread Come with Me. When I finished, I looked out into the faces of my beautiful fourth graders and had to take a moment to compose myself. They got it and commented that Holly had written the book for times just like what we were all experiencing at this very moment. I’m not sure I have ever felt such a powerful and heart-felt community reaction as I did then.
Our first Skype session of the year was with Holly McGhee. It occurred on Wednesday, October 11th. We learned that one student in our class was neighbors with a man who lost his life in Las Vegas. Her mother commented to me that her daughter had shared about the picture book and the writing we had done. The student had the opportunity to share this with the author herself.
During our conversation with Holly, the fourth grade writers were able to share their comments and/or questions with her. It was a bit “eerie” and “surreal” that Holly and Pascal had created this picture book way before the Las Vegas incident, and now we were discussing how the book and the real-life event were so closely tied.
A few of my writers had the opportunity to share their own writing with Holly. I was so proud of them at that moment and could tell that Holly herself was truly touched by their words. I’ve had some incredible Skype visits in the past, but this particular one took it to a whole new level.
|Patrick Andrus and Holly McGhee|
Picture books can change the world. They can change the way we view events, incidents, and people. They can also change how we choose to respond to a horrific, tragic, and upsetting news story that we all witness via the nighty news.
I want to thank Holly and Pascal for giving teachers, and other readers, this important picture book. I want them to know what a difference a piece of literature like this can do for both educators like myself and the students we work with on a daily basis.
My invitation to my fourth grade readers and writers is to “Come with Me” on this journey we will take together. I want us to experience the magic, the meaning, and the experience that picture books can offer us.
Won’t you “Come with Me” also?!?
What the listeners/writers thought...
Horacio - I thought this story was amazing because it was about not living in fear.
Kadie - Something I learned from this story was that fear isn't the answer because if you live in fear you’re showing the world they have won.
Audrey - Something I learned from this story was even if something pulls you down, you can get back up if you have courage because no one can tell you to go down if you have courage.
Hunter - I thought this story was sad, but was also hopeful.