There I was, finally, a seat at the big kid’s table. I’ve only been literacy department chair for a month, and as if I wasn’t already feeling woefully inadequate, the head of our school didn’t look pleased. Sitting around the table with the other department chairs, she wanted our input on the best way to develop, extend, monitor, and reflect on our programming at school. Now, she wasn’t actually mad at us. Our ideas weren’t bad ones, but our answers were perfunctory, run of the mill, and for lack of better word, a bit unoriginal. The qualities that had landed us the positions we’d earned were now about to be tested. I don’t quite remember how it happened, but one brave soul quickly sensed the vibe and chose to reframe the conversation. She said, “Let’s consider our ‘pie in the sky’ ideas. If money and time and obstacles weren’t in the way, what would the perfect program look like?” From there, the conversation turned up a few dials, as did the smile on my boss’s face. We not only began to dream, but to goal set as well. It was a powerful moment to recognize that our visions don’t have to feel so out of reach once we gain the courage to say them out loud. I find that kids have an easier time than we do at this particular skill – they see possibility in every nook and cranny. Thus, here are my four books about taking on the “unimaginable.”
It won’t be a surprise to you now that it was my Head of School who recommended Jane McGonigal’s Imaginable as a faculty read this summer. This is an engaging, interactive read from a professional futurist and gamer whose job it is to literally anticipate potential happenings in our world. City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, is the story of two kids whose city is under the brink of despair after three hundred years underground. No, they couldn’t possibly intend to journey beyond border lines… or could they? Oliver Jeffers does it again in What We’ll Build, a poignant tale of a father and daughter’s literal and figurative building of a life together. Finally, while MT Anderson’s Feed feels like a more hyperbolic example of what impact technology has on our world, there are nuggets of truth that pack a punch in this YA dystopian novel. Is it too corny to say that I imagine you’ll like all of these?!?!