This week the book fair swept into my school.  I always have mixed feelings about it… on the one hand – books!  On the other hand, there’s so much ‘stuff’ masquerading as books… and it always seems my little friends always gravitate towards the ‘barely books’ stuff or books geared towards older grades… but I digress.

This year, there were diaries.  There was one with a dragon on it.  It locked and had ‘ancient paper’ inside and the entire school was infatuated with the dragon diary.  Well my school isn’t large and there were only about five or six of those dragon diaries and they went fast!  And that’s where my story begins…

Yesterday, my little first grade friends came popping in as they usually do and after reading my morning message, looked to see what our share would be.  Now there are two types of shares we do – a writing share where I have kids write something and we use that as a scaffold to our thinking and straight up thinking shares, where I ask them to think about something and then we’ll share it at morning meeting.  Yesterday was a think share:

After reading the prompt, one little girl came right up to me.

“Mr. Halpern, I know exactly what to share.  Last night I was upset because those dragon diaries were gone… my brother saw how sad I was and felt empathy for me… he made me my own dragon diary!”

And with that, she popped the ‘diry’ from behind her.  There it was in all it’s glory, full of pages which she’d already begun writing in and her sweet face, full of all the love her brother must have been feeling when he made it.

Well my heart felt that love and I knew her brother’s fourth grade teacher, who happens to be right across the hall from us needed to hear that story – so we marched over and showed her the homemade dragon journal and told the story of empathy and made the poor fourth grade teacher cry in front of her whole class.

And it was so good because the students saw how this act of empathy touched their classmate’s little sister and how that story made their teacher so swelled up with emotion it poured out of her eyes and don’t we want our kids to know that’s possible?

And the little girl carried that dragon journal around all day – even out to recess, finding places to sit and write.

So thanks to the book fair and the ‘stuff’ like dragon journals.