Along with reading R.J. Palacio’, Wonder, this week I’ve begun reading, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, as a morning comprehension read aloud. With high hopes, I was so excited to have the honor of introducing this philosophical stroke of genius to my 6th graders. Oh the many life lessons this gem would bestow upon the impressionable minds of my precocious sixth grade minds. They have been eating up Wonder like starving carnivores. I just knew, based upon the depths of their insights pertaining to the latter that these talented twelve year olds were going the bite up and savor the concepts of,The Little Prince.
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
These young brains are going to love this. Immediately they are entranced… hook, line, sinker… swallowing it up whole, connecting concepts and spellbound with the pure abstract silliness of Saint-Exupery’s words.
Still captivated… Clichés are strewn about the room… Don’t judge a book by its cover… Look closer to see the big picture…Don’t miss out on the details… You never know what lies inside…
I nod my head in approval. Yes… yes… my wise, little Padawans. Join the dork side. Let‘s continue dissecting this tomorrow.
Breathe it in.
Day two begins with instructing Luis to lower the blinds, Oscar assists with turning on the lamp, and students settle into the comfort of their nesting arms upon their desks. I begin reading… pausing periodically in reflection… What could the troublesome Boabab trees represent? A few arms rocket up to the open air signaling speculation… Small things can turn into big things if you don’t take care of them right away… Even little things can make a big impact…
Contently, on day three I continue on a storybook voyage through the galaxy, grazing and dancing upon asteroids; The lonesome king with no subjects… the conceited man lacking admirers…. The accountant with his ever accumulating collection of stars… I am immersed… Hannah, my ever eager, participating over achiever has her eyes locked on mine throughout the entire reading. On the others, however, I quickly notice a dull glaze give way over my once promising eyes as rhythmic breaths deepen, occasional yawns contagiously escape, and the entranced pin drop turns to a detached drop off.
Let’s just stop here for today. I ignore the hushed… yesssss’… murmured in liberation as I close our Little Prince. A slight sucker punch to the literary ego, but this Rocky of a reader teacher was still ready for round 4. sigh.
“Luis? Oscar? Blinds… lights…” I direct. Heavy sighs resound. I recognize immediately, I’m flying solo.
“I love this book, Ms. K,” Hannah informs me and the class. I had one compliant comrade.
As for the rest, it is mutiny aboard the vessel of our sacred read aloud…. I persevere with battered pride. Steadily, putting on my best expressive show, I endure. Unsure if the swing of my persuasion will amount to much… I go inwards to the wise lessons of our Little Prince… Perceptions are not reality – just because something appears to be a certain way doesn’t mean that it actually is. We must dig deeper to find the truth.
Just because they appear to be racked with boredom, does not mean…. Those yawns do not necessarily imply…This is not in vain… Something’s going to stick…osmosis… something…
“Ok. That’s enough for today,” I resign. “When I call your table, please line up quietly and single file.”
I am going to see these next 35 pages out. I won’t quit you Little Prince, I pledge as we walk silently through the halls to library.
The students disperse into the media center and begin to peruse the book shelves. Minutes later, I feel a little tap on my shoulder.
“Here Ms. K. Maybe I should check out this book,” Joey suggests in a whisper, now standing at my side. I glance over.
Driving the dagger ever deeper. Nice one, Joey. Real freaking funny. I can’t hide my smile. I have that weakness.
I will continue to read aloud my, recently dubbed, Little Lame Prince. I have an inkling that despite the subtle, defiant groans they will remember these words and lessons. Call it false hope, call it forced fueled pride, I have that feeling and I’m running with it, with blind optimism and high held hopes.