What Does HATCHET Have To Do With Preschool?

I’ve spent the last few weeks reading aloud the book HATCHET by Gary Paulsen on my Facebook page (it’s public, so you’re welcome to check it out). A few people have asked me why in the world I chose this book when I own a preschool?? I can see their confusion. 🙂 Hatchet certainly isn’t for 3 and 4 year olds. 
 
The simple answer is: I like Hatchet.
 
The more complex answer is: I see reading a book online as a way to bring consistency and calmness to people during a time that feels uncertain, at best, and sometimes even chaotic or scary. Taking a time-out to focus on someone else’s life can be pretty comforting when our own lives seem up in the air; a chapter book allows this more easily than a picture book.
 

Why Hatchet, in particular? A couple of reasons: 

  1. We’re taken along, as guests almost, on one boy’s unasked for adventure of a lifetime (see any parallels to our own lives right now?). Through reading, we are invited to witness his response to the tragedy — his transformation from a scared, somewhat helpless and dependent boy to a thoughtful, confident and resilient young man. Brian wasn’t in school, but there’s NO question he learned a TON during his 50+ days in the wild (kinda like a quarantine) — not the least of which was a strong sense of self and belief in his own instincts and ability to figure stuff out.
  2. The things kids face as early as elementary school get pretty rough (feeling like emergencies to them), making this a crucial time in children’s lives for empowering their own sense of self. Are we giving them the tools to get past the initial shock of whatever their situation is? To help them think through their emergencies and come out of them stronger? Seeing how others deal with hard situations (even if it’s ‘only’ in a book) provides them with examples they may be able to draw on in their own real-life experiences.

I’ve worked with children from preschool through high school. I have found there is one ingredient successful* students have in common: self-confidence. Without it, many kids lack the emotional safety to take risks and keep on going even when they’re “wrong” — crucial for learning. Given that HATCHET embodies so many of these characteristics, and celebrates the journey to acquiring them, perhaps it is easier to see why I’d choose it as a read aloud.

What’s next? Join me on FB on Monday to find out. 😉

* Success is a moving target and is assuredly as individual as each of us. Stay tuned for a blog post on this topic.  

What Does HATCHET Have To Do With Preschool?
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