Of Libraries, Pipes, and Teaching

As one of my classes ended recently, a particularly shy student wanted to know if she could ask me a question. A personal question, she clarified.

Running through the faculty handbook in my head, I braced myself for a number of personal questions so my face would not betray any shock, outrage, or mirth. Even if it was a grossly personal, blushingly inappropriate question, the most important job I have as an educator is creating a safe space for inquiry.

“Do you have, like, a library at home where you sit and read and smoke a pipe?”

The efforts to steel my countenance were in vain. I broke into a laugh and answered yes to both. Until quite recently, my Twitter avatar even featured me puffing on a pipe. And, while modest, the library I’ve assembled with my wife grows by the week. It spans about 250 feet of shelf space and holds books in the six languages we can read or stumble through. (One favorite is Winnie the Pooh in Latin.)

I draw on many of these books as I plan lessons and expose my students to a world of words—Jabberwocky makes its way into every class I teach—and as YARN’s Educational Coordinator, I have a digital library with which to do the same. Every month, YARN editors update the site with prose, poetry, and essays of the highest caliber. In addition to their creative merits, many of these pieces contain accessible didactic possibilities.

Our Teach section has seen multiple updates recently. We’ve added to some of the lesson plans in our inestimable toolbox (here, here, and here) and will be developing even more lesson plans in the next few weeks as our cherished teachers approach seasonal breaks and plan for the new year.

Speaking of teachers: We want YOUR feedback, so comment and e-mail and tweet about these lessons. Let us know what works well and what can work better. And, of course, keep sending us your YARNs.

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What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

So. What's your YARN?

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