The Slice of Life March Writing Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers – 31 days of a writing community.
It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts
Day dreamers have a special place in my teaching heart. It is true that they need extra doses of reminding, and that one can never be sure if they are with us or hundreds of miles away even as their bodies are right there in our classroom. And it is also true that sometimes the questions they ask and the answers they give bear little relevance to the material we happen to be studying at that very moment. But the thoughts they share, they things they say and write, often take us to unusual places; daydreamers are special people.
In her verse novel Words With Wings, Nikki Grimes gives us Gabby – a memorable daydreamer, who finds comfort and delight in words.
Gabby’s world comes apart when her parents divorce: her daydreaming, word-spinning father moves across town, and her practical, take-care-of-everything mother has little time for Gabby’s daydreaming ways. As she adjusts to a new school, and a new home, and now a deep hole in her heart where her father used to be, Gabby finds that her daydreams protect her and give her both solace and hope:
But, buckling up for her word rides gets Gabby in trouble in school – it’s hard to pay attention to her teacher when her own thoughts beckon to magical places. Her teacher is patient, to a point: “Dreams are great things, Gabby,”/he finally says…”Still, sometimes you have to/slide your daydreams/in a drawer/and let them wait until later…”.
So, Gabby tries to still her imagination and be the kind of student (and daughter) that everyone seems to prefer, even though stilling her imagination makes her feel sad and dull. She finds a daydreamer classmate who pins his flights of fancy down in drawings, and one day she puts her own words with wings down in writing. Those words are snatched away by her teacher, but they become the key to how Gabby can keep her word dreams until later: he makes time every school day to daydream and write. Gabby’s notebook is soon “thick with daydreams”, with words taking flight:
Words With Wings covers just a year in Gabby’s life, an important year. But Nikki Grimes’ verse is packed with a spare power – you feel the full range of Gabby’s experiences and emotions. And, of course, I loved that her teacher found the perfect way for Gabby to let her imagination take flight during the school day – he made time to dream and write!