In case you need to read about something good.
  1. For the past month, we've been reading a novel called The False Prince. The author, Jennifer Nielsen, was visiting our school, and we wanted to get the kids pumped for her visit.
  2. My kids ADORED this book.
    Many said it was their favorite book they've ever read in school.
  3. But I have this one student. Her name is Callie.
  4. Callie's life has been hard. She has dealt with more in her 12 years than most adults I know will ever face. She has seen real darkness.
  5. Part of her coping mechanism is that she is now selectively mute.
  6. She will sometimes talk at home, but never ever at school - particularly to adults.
  7. She is keeping herself safe.
  8. Well, in The False Prince, there is a character named Imogen.
  9. Imogen has reason to fear for her safety.
  10. Part of her defense mechanism is to be mute.
  11. She has one character who she talks to, but that is it.
  12. She is still strong. She is still brave. She is smart and capable and caring.
  13. She is also mute.
  14. And Callie connected with this character in ways I've not seen. It was incredible.
  15. So today was the long-awaited author visit. She gave a great talk; the kids loved it.
  16. The teachers had lunch with her, and somehow, Callie's name came up.
  17. I told Jennifer Nielsen a little bit about this precious girl, and why she related to Imogen so much. How much it meant to her to see a character like her in a book.
  18. Her reaction touched me - she froze, just for a second. She hadn't heard a reaction like Callie's before. But she was affected. And we talked about what books can do for kids, and that's why she writes.
  19. After lunch, my special education teachers and I hatched a plan.
  20. They took Callie downstairs to meet the author, and take a picture with her.
  21. I wish I could have seen it.
  22. Here's what they told me:
  23. Callie was beaming.
  24. The author was great with her. She said "I just wanted you to know what your teachers said about you: you are a smart, wonderful girl that they are so happy to know. I'm so glad that you connected with Imogen."
    And a little more in that vein. She was so respectful of Callie's mutism. She met her where she is in her journey, and made that child's year.
  25. Callie was so happy. And proud.
  26. I'm not going to forget that, ever.
  27. This is why people read.
  28. This is why people write.
  29. And most of all, this is why I teach.