By Cindy Chiem, AmeriCorps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team with Dever-McCormack Middle School
“What are you reading for you independent reading log?” I asked Chris*. There was a long moment of silence. “Nothing? Did you pick out a book?”
“I don’t like to read. I didn’t pick out a book,” he said, while still concentrating on doing his math homework.
“Well you know that you have a reading log to do every night, right? You need to read for at least 15 minutes a night or else you’ll get a zero for a homework grade,” I said. Chris just shrugged his shoulders and kept working on his homework.
“How about I find you a book? I have one in the City Year room. It’s one of my favorites.”
“Maybe.” Chris still didn’t seem too convinced.
“It has a lot of pictures. It’s a comic book.” Chris finally looked up at me.
“What kind of comic book?” he asked suspiciously.
“It’s a Calvin and Hobbes collection. They used to publish it every Sunday in the newspaper, and it normally follows a story each week. How about we just give it a try?”
“Fine.” He let out a sigh. “I’ll try it.”
While many people may not think of Calvin and Hobbes as a traditional book, it is still one that I am always excited to share with my students. Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson, is a comic series that portrays the adventures of Calvin, a six-year-old boy, and his best friend Hobbes, who is a tiger. The interesting thing about it is that everyone sees Hobbes as a stuffed animal, except for Calvin, who sees him as a real tiger. The two cause a lot of mischief and mayhem, but beyond their adventures, are deep, complex issues and questions. Often, the plot will revolve around many complex themes and issues, but deals with them in a way that is fun and kid-friendly. Calvin and Hobbes is an excellent option for students to read because it keeps the reader’s interest with how short each story is, but also incorporates rich vocabulary.
A few weeks later, I checked in with Chris about the Calvin and Hobbes book I had lent him. “I like it,” he said, “It’s really funny because they go on so many adventures, but Hobbes is just a stuffed animal.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Why do you think that everyone else sees him as a stuffed animal, but he sees him as real?” I asked.
Chris thought for a moment. “Maybe it’s because when you grow up, you stop having fun and lose your imagination?”
“Yeah, I agree.”
“Well, I hope that never happens to me.”
I looked at Chris. “Yeah, me too.”
*Name changed to protect student privacy.