In the Classroom: Real and Fictional Hurricanes

Anyone that says he ain’t scared in a hurricane is a liar or a fool. That’s what the Colonel says. A hurricane spins up like you’re nothing, and takes your world apart like it’s nothing too. There’s no time in it, no sense of the sun moving, no waxing or waning light. All you can do is breathe and ignore the world flying to pieces beyond your door.

I’m looking forward to seeing my 4th graders tomorrow after a week apart. And as I reworked my lesson plans it hit me that we would be in the midst of another hurricane, the one in the climax of Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky. I have to say that the idea that my New York City kids would be listening to this book after their own serious hurricane experience was the last thing on my mind when I decided it would be our first read-aloud of the year.

I decided because Sheila’s publisher brought her to town in early October and we were one of several schools she visited. It turned out that she and her book have been great hits. After every session I am surrounded by children wondering who, who, who killed Mr. Jesse. Their answers shift constantly as they learn more. And they knew that hurricane was coming, the one in the book much more than the one we just experienced.

I was incredibly touched when just as I was making my own hurricane preparations a little over a week ago, Sheila emailed with some very smart tips for dealing with a hurricane. She’s been through a few. Now I had already planned to fill up the bathtub, but others she provided were surprisingly useful given that Sheila lives in rural North Carolina and I live in urban New York.

I should say that while Sheila’s book has plenty of scary moments, I don’t think they are anything my hurricane-experienced fourth graders can’t handle. Last week it was the real Hurricane Sandy. This week it is the fictional Hurricane Amy.

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1 Comment

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One response to “In the Classroom: Real and Fictional Hurricanes

  1. I think fiction, especially realistic fiction, runs the risk of “hitting close to home.” You never know when you’re reading stories about children living in unloving homes which of your students are going to really connect with your story. But t hat’s the power of fiction–it can make us see our own circumstances in new light. It can change the way we think, and feel.
    I hope in the case of your students, that they’ll be able to empathize with the fictional victims of Hurricane Amy. I applaud you for continuing to finish the book. I hope that it opens the door for many great discussions for you and your students.
    –Sarah B.

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