The Clever Stick by John Lechner is another sweet little find that my students loved when I shared it with them recently. We've done so much talk about creating metaphor to explain our thinking that my students immediately started wrapping this text around the work we've done as learners this year. Case in point, one of my students said: "The stick is like me, Mr. Allen, sometimes I have something really important to say and you always make sure that I get to talk about my thinking, write about my thinking and share my thinking with others."
This book is almost fable-like. It's really about finding your voice. In the text, a stick that is "sharp" has so many things to say, but can't think of a way to get his thinking out... until he comes up with a creative way to let all his thinking flow for others to see. It starts... "Once upon a time there was a clever stick. Ever since he had fallen off the tree he had been sharp..."
From the beginning, this simple text is filled with humor and wonderful lines. I can see using it as a mentor text in writing. But, more importantly, I'm thinking it will be a wonderful launching point to our discussion of "trust, tone, and respect" next year as I begin with a new group of learners. Bringing clarity and honesty to our workshops is something I work on with my students on a regular basis. Helping them find their voices as learners is such a critical aspect of a well-running, "trust-filled" learning environment. The Clever Stick is a perfect addition to a constantly growing list of books that I've collected that illustrate the importance of building independence... slowly, gradually, and metaphorically.
This is a perfect book to add to your classroom picture book collection, whether you're a first grade teacher or an eighth grade teacher. It's quaint simplicity adds to its richness!