During shelter in place orders, connection and community can feel elusive. This is especially true for adolescents, many of whom are used to collaborating and engaging with their peers every day at school. Yes, students and educators can continue to connect with each other and in small groups via online meeting platforms. But, how can students connect on a larger scale and with larger communities? A 2,000 person virtual meeting may seem like a great idea, but as soon as you try to navigate muting 1,999 microphones at once it becomes a logistical nightmare.
Our technological infrastructure is built around community and connection, but exactly to what scale. How do we utilize tools we already have to make adolescents feel empowered in their education and part of a larger community of students?
At XQ, we are constantly searching for examples of schools, districts, and states, who use creative solutions to troubleshoot massive and unprecedented problems, especially in ways that encourage students to engage in their own education.
This week, we have been inspired by the stories of wide-scale connection coming out of Rhode Island, where policymakers have engaged directly with students. We’ve seen Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo, and Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green launch an April Reading Challenge—“RI Reads at Home”—to build a statewide community of readers. The mission of the initiative is to inspire every Rhode Island student to read for 60 minutes every day. Through the hashtags #RIReadsAtHome and #ReadTogether, the project aims to connect students, policymakers, and educators to each other online.
We were so energized by the project that we compiled a list of books to help students, educators, and parents find a book through which to connect with each other. And, who knows, maybe the book could lead to an inspiring discussion, an exciting project, or a new connection!
Now, let’s get to it!
FOR THOSE LOOKING TO ESCAPE REALITY:
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS BY URSULA LE GUIN
THE POWER BY NAOMI ALDERMAN
PARABLE OF THE SOWER BY OCTAVIA BUTLER
FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING PHILOSOPHICAL:
THE STRANGER BY ALBERT CAMUS
THE LEMON TREE: AN ARAB, A JEW, AND THE HEART OF THE MIDDLE EAST BY SANDY TOLAN
ISHMAEL BY DANIEL QUINN
FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING EPIC:
EAST OF EDEN BY JOHN STEINBECK
THE OVERSTORY BY RICHARD POWERS
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND BY ELENA FERRANTE
During times of crisis, books can provide solace by allowing us to escape reality for a moment. They can offer enlightening observations on the current moment and lead us down journeys of self-reflection. More importantly, books can connect us to each other, by building out our empathy and—when paired with the proper technology—provoking discussion.
We’d love to know what books you are reading with your community and how you are building larger networks of communication for your students! If you have tips or just want to explain how your school is getting it done, fill out our Blog Contributor Form or send an email to [email protected].