Library Day: Magical Realism with Grade 7-8

By Lisa Elchuk and Anne Rojas

We created a magical realism genre-based program with a social/emotional literacy focus. 

The program was delivered to students in Grades 7-10, over three sessions. The delivery of the programming for the students was first created in English, then translated to Spanish.

We read aloud the first chapter of A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, together with the students and engaged with them by asking for volunteer readers. The students were hesitant to read at first; students in the older grades ended up being more likely to offer to read with us. As the reading progressed, students grew more confident and we had more reading volunteers.
They were all actively engaged in the story, turning pages synchronously with us. There were gasps from some students, in each of the grades, at the end of the chapter. 

After answering a few social and emotional learning reflective questions, the students and LWB volunteers worked together to untangle a human knot. The idea behind this was to model positive, collaborative relationships between the students and adults.  A few students were embarrassed and hesitant at first but all rose to the occasion; each group ended up very proud of their problem-solving prowess, even though some human knot untangling failed!

The final activity was a prompt for the students to describe a person place or activity where they feel safe and happy.  Answers ranged from playing soccer with friends, being with friends and loved ones or listening to music in their rooms. We asked the students to write their answers on leaves which we then affixed to the paper tree LWB volunteers had used in prior programs for the Asturias students.

We created a booklist for the Asturias Library, with other magical realism titles including A Monster Calls, The Graveyard Book in graphic novel format, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Carry On. We reviewed the Asturias catalog prior to creating the booklist to utilize their offerings and then added additional titles to supplement their collection.
Overall the program was incredibly successful and we feel gave the students a different perspective on traditional library programming.

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