St. Jerome School is dedicated to bringing rich literature into the classroom. We do this for a number of reasons. Many people prize the great books or the classics because they see them as more rigorous and therefore better at developing reading skills. A case could certainly be made for this. Think of the mental work required to appreciate Shakespeare or even The Wind in the Willows as opposed to Captain Underpants or Dork Dairies.
But good literature does so much more than give us mental skills. Rich literature shapes us and teaches us the most important things about being human. It teaches us to love goodness and resist vice by showing us the consequences of each—without forcing us to live through as many painful lessons. It urges us think through life’s central questions and helps us to become wise. It delights us with beautiful language and teaches us how to appreciate beauty and the power of the written and spoken word.
Here are two examples of the rich literature being read at St. Jerome. Currently, Mrs. B’s second grade is reading—and appreciating—A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh with its wit, playful language, and beautiful lessons on friendship. The class especially enjoys hearing of Owl’s spelling mishaps and Eeyore’s glum, but silly, outlook. They also relished the scene where Pooh and Piglet are tracking what seem to be a growing number of “woozles” but cannot figure out that the multiplying tracks in the snow are their own because they are walking in circles.
Here Mrs. McCarthy is showing off one of her favorite books for fourth grade: a collection of fairy tales. When asked what she most enjoys about teaching fairy tales, she responded with a Chesterton quote: “The objection to fairy stories is that they tell children there are dragons. But children have always known there are dragons. Fairy stories tell children that dragons can be defeated.” What better justification could there be for any story? These stories inspire students to stand with courage in the face of evil.
As demonstrated by this peek into two of our classrooms, St. Jerome School strives to give students the best literature so that they can learn to love what is best. What a wonderful foundation!
Stay tuned for next week’s post to learn how St. Jerome works to foster wonder in its students.