Since the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, thousands of students in Texas have not been able to return to school. When they do go back, many will have lost their classroom, school, and public libraries. As part of an ongoing desire to teach our students empathy and the importance of community service, 4th grade teacher McKenzie Inigo and I decided to collaborate to create an opportunity for her students to take part in the Hurricane Harvey Book Club.
The Hurricane Harvey Book Club is an online book club created by Texas educator Kathryn Butler Mills. Butler Mills wanted to create a place that children in Texas could visit to hear stories while they were unable to attend school. You can find more information about the amazing project (and it’s more than 70,000 participants!) here. To participate, we started with a conversation about empathy – how are children your age in Texas feeling right now? What do you think they need? If you were in Texas, what would you want for people to know, and how would you want people to help? Students answered that they wanted to give comfort, entertainment, laughter, and hope.
Next, students set off in the library to choose stories that matched the message that they wanted to share. Once they found just the right book, it was time to practice, reading aloud for stuffed animals or classmates to find just the right voices and inflection. Finally, students filmed stories and messages to share with the Texas community. Not only does this serve as a meaningful project, but it is great practice in reading fluently and with expression. Ms. Inigo and I also loved that it is a meaningful, real-life way to use technology to show that one person can have a positive impact on the lives of others. The videos will be posted to the Hurricane Harvey Book Club Facebook page, and you can find the link to to full videos on my YouTube channel below. We hope to find additional ways to share these videos, perhaps with children in our own community, who would benefit from access to amazing read alouds.
If you’d like to see more of our Hurricane Harvey Book Club read alouds, including full videos of each of the students featured above, check out the Fitz Between the Shelves YouTube Channel (you can also the the read aloud that Mr. Fitz and I recorded for the Book Club!).