I was first introduced to Aaron Becker’s Journey while doing a teaching placement not too long ago. What I did not realize at first was how versatile this book would become, on not only an age level, but a conceptual and skill-teaching level as well. I have since read it to students at the primary and junior levels, and each time, this book has not failed to create a splash. Becker relinquishes the use of words to tell a story completely in the hands of a child’s imagination. He trusts our young readers, as we must, to make their own meaning out of this heartfelt tale.
I will intentionally not discuss the plot of this book, as I do want to create any skew toward a certain interpretation when the book provides for many. Suffice to say, this book is about a young girl who begins a journey and along the way, discovers much about herself and life.
Juxtaposing grayscale pictures with bold singular colour in the beginning, and then opening wide a world blossoming with colour as the book progresses, Becker unfolds a world that students can envelope themselves in. With magical crayons and castles, boats and hot air balloons, rescue missions and the king’s guards, this book will allow your students to draw the important messages of friendship, selflessness, generosity, imagination and compassion. The sensitively-coloured and poignantly-drawn illustrations provide your students with the opportunity to lose themselves in another world where they can tell you a story as it plays out in the turning pages. For once, you will not be the one narrating, they will, and they will take much pleasure in making their own tale. The thing I love most about this book is that it allows for a variety of different levels of interpretation that your students can attach themselves to. It prods their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, it allows them to use language to describe pictures, it helps them with recall and attention to fine detail, and at its best, it provides them with the opportunity to acknowledge the value of a variety of perspectives. It is especially great for those of your students who just do not like reading; a great place to start to show them that books can be fun and instructive, without the burden of a multitude of words.
Teachers, this book is well worth the investment, and a true gem that will prove timeless for your students each year.
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