February 07

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The Wild in Us by Carrie Rodusky

“What is wild?

And where can you find it?”

These are the first two lines on the first page of this inspirational picture book written by Megan Wagner Lloyd with pictures by Abigail Halpin. As I read this story aloud to 3rd through 5th graders, I could literally feel my body relax and my breath and tone become smooth and rhythmic. Through the use of personification and beautiful language, Wild becomes a character that smells, feels, soothes, sings, can sometimes hurt, and ultimately calms. Wild is always there, even when it feels hidden beneath a cement jungle and an orderly world. Each page sounds lyrical and the illustrations compliment the verses with earthy colors and greenery that you can almost feel.

 

Humans crave nature – did you know that even showing people a picture of nature lowered stress and anxiety levels? If a picture of some trees and meadows can do that, let’s get back to actually going outside and walk in grass, touch the rough bark on trees, and listen to the sounds that flow on the breeze.

 

Children today are over-scheduled and have their days planned from breakfast to bed. How often do they get to go outside and just be? Recess times are not long. Sometimes they are only playing on pavement. “Stay out of the puddles” is an announcement that was made before recess on a recent damp day. I get it, wet shoes and socks are no fun to sit in the rest of the day, but that made me sad.  No snow-clothes? No outside time in the winter. Have you ever stood outside on a crisp, cold, calm winter day and closed your eyes and inhaled? I am telling you that winter has a scent. I have found it. Do children know that winter is it’s own being? That spring is not just allergies and itchy grass, but the smell of fresh mud with a hint of green and bees returning.

 

Children are natural explorers and the wild is the place to let loose. No wild near you? I challenge you to find a patch of grass, one tree, a potted plant! Any and all of these things can be a space to discover calm and quiet.

 

“Finding Wild’ is the perfect story to read and motivate children and adults alike to find their version of Wild. When I read this aloud, we followed it up by asking the kids.”What is your Wild?” The answers were unique and thoughtful; a sunset, my nana’s backyard, bees buzzing in flowers, the ocean. I read this on a snowy, gray day, where even thinking of budding flowers seemed like fantasy. That was the power of this book. The next day a fifth grader found me in the hall and simply said, “I loved that story.” I  knew exactly what she was saying and which book she meant. I love it too.

 

So go find your Wild, and make sure to take this amazing picture book with you.

 

Carrie Rodusky has been teaching since 1996. She is currently the fourth and fifth grade language arts  teacher and 4th grade social studies in a Catholic school outside of Cleveland, Ohio. She loves all things reading and can be found out under the trees on a summer day with book in hand.  She hopes all kids will identify themselves as readers and still tries with her own teenagers. She will read “Wild” and “The Secret Life of Bees” every year without fail.