Monday, May 25, 2015

Hate That Cat #bookaday 5/25

Hate That Cat is a novel in verse, narrated by Jack in Miss Stretchberry's class.  The book, written by Sharon Creech, is the sequel to Love That Dog, which I read years ago and loved.  At the heart of Love That Dog, Jack transforms from a boy who hates poetry and writing to a gifted poet telling the heartbreaking story of his dog getting killed by a car.  

In Hate That Cat, Jack is back in Miss Stretchberry's class and he again uses poetry to tell his stories, this time about getting a new pet, a cat.  Through the book, you discover that Jack is also trying to understand how his hearing impaired mother processes the world even though she cannot hear sounds.  

This is a beautiful book.  As teachers, I feel we often read children's literature with different lenses. One lens to read and understand and enjoy.  Another with our teacher lens- how can we bring this book to our class in a meaningful way? As I read Hate That Cat, my teacher lens reflected these things:

  • I want to be Miss Stretchberry.  I want to believe my reluctant writers CAN become prolific writers through believing in them, showing them quality models, and having them engage in the writing process all year long.
  • Miss Stretchberry did not limit poetry to April.  She incorporated it throughout the year and gave frequent feedback to student writing, asking questions and caring about her students' lives.
  • Miss Stretchberry filled the classroom with mentor texts and let her students approximate different styles and poems. 
  • While in Love That Dog, Jack didn't think he was a writer, in Hate That Cat, he seemed much more comfortable in the role and easily attempted new styles and techniques.  We need to help our students embrace the idea that they ARE writers.
  • Next year, I want to read both Love That Dog and Hate That Cat to my students.  It is accessible, relatable, and sends the message that we are all writers with stories to share.  Poetry is one way you can share your story.  
  • I need to read more of Sharon Creech's work! In graduate school, one of my assignments that I will never forget was a literature response project after reading Walk Two Moons, which remains a favorite book.  Prior to this year, I taught kindergarten for a long time and didn't keep up with Sharon Creech's work.  She is an author who writes #heartprint books as JoEllen McCarthy would say and I can't wait read some more. 

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