Pulling the door open, the wall of noise hit me, nearly falling into the category of jarring. Good grief, what was going on in here? This was no normal, run-of-the-mill day of class in sixth grade.
Ah, wait a minute. This is a book club meeting day. Around the room, tables were scattered with post-its, notebooks, books face down on binders, number two pencils, and DaSani water bottles. Faces were a mixture of consternation, rapt focus, harmless daydreaming, and concentration, as varied levels of interpretation filled the classroom space.
Sidling up next to a group of four girls, I attuned my ears. They were discussing a book entitled Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo, a powerful book about child labor and one young boy who made a difference. Ideas were flying from one side of the table to another. Sometimes one idea would flutter across the table and land in another girl’s lap. The recipient would then scoop up the idea, affix more to it, and sail it back across the table to her clubmate.
And books were open. Paper books. Paper books were open. And across the conversation, the girls referred to page after page of printed text.
Quietly exiting the classroom day, I came to realize that I believe there to be something magical about watching kids engage in face-to-face conversation as they hold a physical book in their hand. There is something enchanting about observing kids converse as they refer to notes they made with a ballpoint pen on a small piece of physical paper. There were no Kindles, no laptops, no iPhones or iPads, no snapchats or Instagram photos, no YouTube videos or FaceTime.
Maybe this is just nostalgia here. But human interaction cannot be dismissed as antiquated. It just can’t. Writer Carson McCullers once said, ““We are homesick most for the places we have never known.” I hope that the domain of human interaction never becomes a place we do not know.