It is the day before Thanksgiving break, and the kindergartners gather in a circle for story time. Whereas a few months ago, the children in her class had trouble sitting still, now they listen attentively, ready to answer Mrs. Harris’s questions.
Today’s book is about a child whose grandmother has come from another country to visit for Thanksgiving. Much is made of the enormous hug that she gives her grandchild at the airport.
Mrs. Harris pauses from the story. “Does anyone have relatives who like to give hugs when they come an visit?” Her purpose is to help children learn to connect information and events in texts to real life.
Half a dozen hands shoot up eagerly. One by one, she hears accounts of hugging relatives—Mae, whose grandmother squeezed her tight when she went to Vietnam; Andre, whose aunt hugged him when she came from Guiana; Molly, whose grandfather hugged her when he came from Minnesota. After each child speaks, Mrs. Harris repeats the response, often asking the child to elaborate in some way, or add more detail.
Finally, after listening to six or seven accounts, Mrs. Harris remarks, “Isn’t it interesting that so many families from so many different places all like to hug their kids. You seem to have something in common with the child in this story. Okay, let’s go back and read the rest,” she says and resumes reading. The children are quiet again, hanging on to her every word.