When I was a kid, book reports were dull, lifeless regurgitations of novels. They lacked all creativity and excitement. Yet how could they be anything different when we simply filled out the same dumb form for every book?
The English teacher in my kids’ school comes up with amazing book report ideas. Once, Eldest made a movie poster for his latest Artemis Fowl read. Arnold Schwarzenegger played Butler. His Book in a Bag sported snippets of all the pertinent information from Inkheart along with lively illustrations. DD’s book jacket gave 19 Minutes a whole new look.
Even their timelines on non-fiction are no longer the straight and boring lines with dashes slashed across the page to denote significant events. Run Baby Run careens across DD’s poster from immigration to the mean streets to church spires. The background is a dark sketch of a concrete jungle opening to lightness for the end of the book. Nicky Cruze’s life was not easy.
I love how this makes kids really consider the words they read. It connects ideas and vibrant pictures with the written word and allows them to express the impact a novel has on them. These book reports are no longer summaries, formatted to bore children to tears. Instead, they create a physical and intellectual connection with the reader and the novel.
They are a visual reminder that we all experience things differently. Which, of course, is the beauty of literature.
Another book that has as many interpretations as there are readers is the Bible. Tomorrow is DD’s confirmation, where she will stand before the church and declare her intent to walk in her faith. I’m proud of her. Not for memorizing Bible passages or her ability to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Rather, I’m proud of her because she taken information, her experiences and created her faith.
I will never know exactly what that means to her. Just as I will never know what it means to my DH, my MIL or my next door neighbor. Faith and spirituality are sacred to everyone in their own ways. We all believe, or disbelieve, for a reason. There are no right answers. There are only life experiences, hope, love, happiness and the search for personal meaning.
Today I am baking bread for DD’s celebration. It is something I love to do. I thoroughly enjoy shaping the bread into edible reminders of an event. For Valentine’s Day I made hearts. Today, I shall twist and mold the dough into crosses, hearts and doves.
Faith, love and hope.
They symbolize my interptretation of the Bible. They are the words that form the poem for my DD. They are my wish for her as she steps forward tomorrow and declares the journey of her life.
If I were a teacher, I would take book reports to a whole new level. I would ask my students to make a food that symbolizes the essense of the story.
Think of your favorite book. What shape would your bread take in this delicious version of a book report?