A book is like a garden carried in your pocket.
January in Brazil means lots of rain and children on vacation fretting about not being able to play outside. At least, when I was a child that’s the way it was. I remember imaginative stories told to keep me entertained, such as the sky being washed and all the water cascading down as the rain.
But the fondest memory was when my father used to tell me: “look at the rain falling…now look closely to all the beautiful flowers and plants in the garden…be very quiet and listen to them. They’re all happy, smiling and singing songs thanking the rain – it gives them life and makes them more beautiful than they already are. Now, get yourself a book and just like the rain, give the stories life and listen to all the beautiful sounds. Then come and tell me all about it!”
So, there I was in the garden trying to make the stories come alive with my imagination. Reading out loud, talking to flowers and birds. Not only that, but as I read, I used to add notes in the margins, writing other stories or messages in loose papers, placing them in the middle of the books. Then, returning to my father, telling him the new stories – the books I gave life to with my imagination and my contributions. My books were alive!
Many times after my Dad passed away, I used to return to those books, trying to find the magic he taught me: watch and listen to all the images and sounds of the world. To my surprise, not only all the memories came back, but the notes too! What a joy to see what I wrote as a child so many years ago. I can say all my books have life – even the ones I bought later in my life, the ones I still buy today. I give them life!
Learning to see all the beauties of life, making stories come alive, sharing with others and adding your precious part is something I always bring to my classes. My students are all the living things in the garden waiting to be watered, so that they can come alive, blossom and write their own stories in their own way. So, as we start a new year, give some time and interest as fertilizer and sprinkle it among your students. Their stories will come to life and flourish.
Where do your stories come to life?
P.S.: I’m writing this story in a lovely warm summer afternoon in January in Brazil, sitting on a swing in the porch, facing my Dad’s inspirational garden…and I still can see all the stories gently nestling and growing.
Malu has been working in Brazil for 20 years as a teacher, material designer, Cambridge examiner and freelance speaker and consultant for publishers. She has taught in schools, language institutes and in companies, where she has developed a new concept of ELT in the workplace. She is also an Associate at iTDi.
She is passionate about helping students find their own motivation. She believes that if we, as teachers, create these motivational conditions in the classroom, learning will be a great adventure. She is also an enthusiastic runner and she loves dogs.
Note: This article by Malu Sciamarelli originally appeared as a guest post on Teaching Village and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.