How do you get water at home? “From the refrigerator, I think there’s a filter from the sink,” “We order big jugs. It gets delivered to our house,” adds another student showing the size with her hands.
Students are engaged and focused as they listen to the captivating voice of English Language Arts teacher, John Koski, as he vividly brings the characters of Varsha Bajaj’s book “Thirst” to life at the front of the class.
The book is part of this year’s “Global Read Aloud” program, an initiative founded in 2010 by US-based teacher Pernille Ripp with a simple goal: one book to connect the world. And over the past 12 years, the GRA has done just that, growing to connect millions of students around the world through the power of literature.
Our own grade 6 students are currently connected to children in three schools in the US, sharing their perspectives on the struggles of the book’s main character Minni.
Using a technique called “mirrors and windows”, the students are asked to consider the ways the settings, characters, or plot reflect or connect to themselves, i.e., “mirrors” or how the chapters give them a glimpse into something different than their own experiences or perspective, i.e. “windows.”
This help students understand how conversations are shaped around the globe and that they themselves are part of something bigger.
The deeper into the book the students get, many begin to reflect even more on their own situations as they learn about the hardships Minni faces to gain access to water in the impoverished area of Mumbai where she lives.
And in building understanding and sharing with others, the caring begins as each of the groups get a little closer to understanding themselves, each other, and Minni.
Thank you to teacher John Koski who contributed to this article.