It was 1:10 p.m. on a recent B day, and a Second Grade class was entering the Lower School Library. We had just had a Kindergarten class, so there were books displayed on our big rectangular tables. A few Second Graders walked directly to the tables and started shouting, “Where’s Matthew? Where’s Matthew? There’s a baseball book on the table and he loves baseball!” The students found Matthew at the back of the line and showed him the baseball books, and all was well.
Did the students know that they were practicing empathy and kindness at this moment? Probably not—they were just connecting a friend with a book. But that’s a great example of the type of kind and caring behavior we see every day at Colorado Academy. Whether it is recommending a book, helping a friend on the playground after a fall, walking with a classmate who is a little slower or a little faster than the others, CA students practice kindness everyday.
Back to Second Grade. In the library, Second Graders began the year with a trimester dedicated to reading biographies about inspiring figures who positively impacted the world. We read about Celia Cruz, Yo-Yo Ma, Helen Keller, Chef Roy Choi, Charles Atlas, Momofuku Ando, Tammy Duckworth, and Sylvia Townsend. For each figure that we read about, the Second Graders were asked to discuss the Formative Five skills (grit, integrity, empathy, embracing diversity, and self control) that they associated with that person, using illustrative examples from the books. They did great with this exercise, finding many examples of the Formative Five that our biography book figures demonstrated in their lives.
What always impressed me during this unit was the way students observed empathy. I had to ask myself, is this life imitating art or art imitating life? Are students who participate in a community that practices empathy more observant and attentive to empathetic feelings? Do students who read about others who practice empathy and kindness exhibit those same traits more often?
I’d argue that it is part of Colorado Academy’s mission in action. When students see others caring, they learn to care. When students learn about individuals who put themselves in another’s shoes (or cleats, in Second Grader Matthew’s case) they can imagine how another person might feel. When the Second Graders saw a baseball book on the table, they thought about their classmate and friend and knew that he would feel excited about that book. Empathy. Kindness. Caring. It happens at CA daily!
And now, as someone who can empathize with those excited about the new baseball season, it is time to share some books about America’s favorite pastime. Following are books available in our two campus libraries. Batter up!
Jack at Bat by Mac Barnett
Goodnight Baseball by Michael Dahl
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon
All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball by Audrey Vernick
Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories by Derrick D. Barnes
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series by Traci Sorell
Mascot by Antony John
Heat by Mike Lupica
The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch That Changed My Life by Rick Ankiel
The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League by Anika Orrock
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena
A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White