It isn't uncommon for girls that age to love horses, but
how many times does an entire class "become" horses on the playground?
Yeah, having a chance at recess was unusual too. We didn't have a gym most of that time because of reconstruction, so they gave us outside recess instead.
And most of the girls played like we were wild horses in first one, then rival, herds.
The Power of ReadingBecause of the building configuration, our junior high in those years was 5-6-7.
In the fifth grade, for part of the year, we used readers that consisted of four HALF novels. There were two such readers, each side of the room having one of them for a semester, then i think we returned to more conventional readers. Anyway, we didn't trade them across the room.
MyGuy and i can still remember some of the novels in ours.
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George.
Hakon of Rogen's Saga, by Eric Christian Haugaard.
The Wild Heart, by Helen Griffiths. ***If you follow only one link from here, follow this one!!***
Four/Eight Half Novels????It never occurred to us then, being kids, but WHY would a publisher put out, & a school use, readers with four half novels?
Four half novels, ending at cliffhangers?
i rather think the idea had to have been to inspire us to get our hands on the rest of the book and finish it.
i know any of us girls would have killed to finish the saga of the Argentine mare LaBruja, she of the Wild Heart, to read the Rest of the Story.
But, were these books made available to us?
Finding Our Other Halves (of those books, that is)Well, My Side of the Mountain is a classic. It may have already been one at that time. Anyway, Scholastic offered it about the same time as we came across it in the reader, and i think we pretty much all ordered it.
MyGuy and i both brought copies into our marriage, anyway.
But What About the Others?Looking at this as the teacher i can't not be, i wonder, why? What happened?
Did the person with the purchasing power not get the point? Did money get tight somewhere between the conception of the idea and the usage of those books?
At the very least, there should have been opportunities pointing us to "This local bookstore carries/will take orders on the book you want to finish."
Or provide copies for us to buy or just pass out to own. i think My Side of the Mountain was under a dollar at the time - of course, so was gasoline.*
Horse CrazyAnd what about us girls and our horse herds?
In Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet, sixth grade teacher Ms Hussey tailors her classroom assignments around the students' interests. Reading, math, and science, are not neglected, though not taught on some imposed from on high schedule. The kids are breathlessly excited about learning, not just about the mystery that is the heart of the story (well, except for a few students who really enjoyed & did well with traditional read and take a test lessons, thank you very much).
Even before i came across Balliet's novel, i had the notion that teaching ought to work out this way.
And i would certainly have provided copies of Helen Griffiths' The Wild Heart to those tweens who lived as wild horses, framed math problems as horse questions, and anything else i could have thought of to introduce horses into the conversation.
Just like you practice handwriting or calligraphy with inherently interesting words & sentences, and you make quick sketches of the the breakfast you're ravenous for, or the maple tree you lovingly planted. Interest squared, as it were. to get you through the boring parts.
There had to be something in that extraordinary horse book that so many of us seventh graders were still playing that game two years after we'd seen the story, and that i remember it now.
Results, available to see years later if only someone wished to look?
* i haven't dug out the Scholastic paperbacks of that era, but to the best of my memory, they were twice that cost of gas, incidentally the first gasprice i remember.
artwork above shows horses that i drew when i was about that age. Some were on memo paper, and others were paper doll types, which i cut out & played roughly the same type of horse herd games with, except alone.