11 May 2012

Lunch with the book thieves

This week at school we have not only celebrated/honored Teacher appreciation week, we've also celebrated/honored National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.  The theme for this year's NCMHAW is "Heroes for Hope" - an effort to honor the adults who care about young people and help them emotionally work through trying times and encourage them as they grow into mentally healthy adults.
This year - especially this spring - has been very trying mentally and emotionally for our school, but we've come through it with flying colors.  We have proved that as a school community we are strong, we care for each other, and we can succeed and flourish even when things are terribly difficult.
So today was a special day at school - it was Super Hero Day!  There are many people out and about sporting Batman t-shirts, Superman capes, etc. etc.  Originally, I was planning to come to school dressed as the library ninja that I am - I thought it would be cool to sport my "other uniform" at school.  However, something amazing happened yesterday at lunch that caused me to completely abandon the library ninja and spend about 50 minutes last night creating super hero costumes for myself and four of my students.
I have a group of students who come in and have lunch with me every day.  To an outsider, they would probably be considered "book nerds", but to me, they're awesome.  Its a group of girls who are unique, intelligent, funny (sometimes ridiculous) and caring.  Last year we met after school as a book club.  This year, after school didn't work so great for me because of my athletic director duties, so a few of the girls started coming in for lunch a couple days a week, and now it's a daily thing.
We talk about any and everything.  Today, the main topic of discussion was the very controversial cover of TIME magazine.  They don't know much about breastfeeding, so we talked about what each of us knew, someone jumped on a computer and googled it, and we discussed what we thought about breastfeeding and the cover as well. Our discussions have ranged from the deep and intellectual (how do we make education better) to the downright silly (how do we survive the zombie apocalypse).  Yesterday they came in wondering why today was deemed "Super Hero Day".  So I explained it to them, and we talked about who the "heroes" in our world are.  One of them said I was her hero because I'd introduced her to so many books that had helped her see the world differently (*sniff* is someone cutting onions in here?!?). The girls joked about dressing up as me, and one girl asked me "What does a book super hero look like?"
My response was oh so intelligent: "Uh, I dunno."
So we stared talking about what she would look like, and someone said she looks like the book or character that has most inspired her.
In case I haven't said it eighty million times, one of my favorite books ever written is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  And yes, the entire lunch group has read the book and five out of six loved it.  So long discussion short, we decided to come to school as:

The Book Thieves!

You might be asking yourself, what exactly a "Book Thief" is, and how in the world someone named "thief" could be a hero.  We talked about this yesterday and again today.  The Book Thief is about Death, and his experience following a little girl named Liesel Memminger and his various encounters with her throughout WWII.  So our "super powers" as Book Thieves is the ability to see people as they truly are - just like Death can.  One of my girls also noted that this fits in well with NCMHAW because if we can/could see people as they truly are, we would be more able/willing to help them if they need it.
You might also be wondering about our costumes.  Lemme 'splain.  See, the cover art (er, one of the covers) features white on black dominoes, so we decided to put dominoes on our shirts.  Originally, we were going to do white on black dominoes, but half the girls didn't have white t-shirts, so we switched the colors.  The capes are a)awesome and b) to represent the different colors each person sees when Death comes to collect them (pg 4).
 As my time here winds down and comes to an end, days like today are extra special.  I know that I will miss the staff and the students here immensely.  I will miss these young women who make me laugh, drive me crazy and help me be the best teacher I can be each and every day. My office is littered with their books, lunch sacks and the sweet little notes they leave regularly on my desk/computer...

and when I have moved to be with my guy and am (fingers crossed) working in another library, I won't forget the day I was able to be a super hero with some of the brightest students around. I'm blessed. Really, truly and deeply blessed.

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