Book connects MFL MarMac students to others from around the world

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Shelby Mielke (left) and Riley Moreland, along with the other students in Scott Boylen’s seventh grade literature class, are currently participating in the Global Read Aloud. Boylen is reading the book “Pax” aloud to his students, who then share their thoughts online, with students from around the world. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Have you ever wondered if someone halfway around the world—or even halfway around the country—is doing the exact same thing as you? For students in Scott Boylen’s seventh grade literature class, they don’t have to wonder. They know.

His class, along with several others at the McGregor Center, are participating in the Global Read Aloud, a project that works to connect the world through the reading of one book.

To get started, teachers select a book to read to their class(es) from the suggestions offered by Global Read Aloud. The books, Boylen said, are often new releases. Over weeks of reading, the students are encouraged to make as many global connections as they can, through avenues like Skyping and blogging. Since it was created in 2010, the Global Read Aloud has connected over a million students around the globe.

Boylen’s classes have been participating in the Global Read Aloud for several years. He was drawn to the project because it allows him to read the story, aloud, to his students.

“It’s important for them to hear an adult read,” he explained, as it helps them better understand the material. “It gives depth to it.”

This year, Boylen’s seventh graders are reading “Pax,” by Sara Pennypacker. The book, released in early 2016, shares the journeys taken by a boy, Peter, and his pet fox, Pax, as they work to reunite with one another.

Seventh grader Riley Moreland admitted she wasn’t excited about the book to begin with, but, as the story progressed, she got more enthused.

“The book is actually really good when you find out it’s not as simple as you thought it would be,” noted student Shelby Mielke. “Mr. Boylen taught us that it has more meaning.”

Mielke and Moreland both said they’ve enjoyed learning about the book’s symbolism.

“Everything has a meaning,” Mielke said.

That meaning is easier to interpret, Moreland mentioned, by listening to Boylen read aloud.

While the students discuss “Pax” in class, they also take their thoughts online, by posting on the site Kidblog. Students from around the world can read it, Moreland said.

They comment and talk with other students, Mielke stated. 

“This year, we’re breaking down the book. I made a prediction and someone reached out to me,” she explained. “It’s interesting, and it makes reading more fun.”

Moreland said it’s surprisingly easy to communicate with others.

“You can really get a conversation going,” she added. “It’s cool seeing that they’re actually seeing what we write, that they have the same thoughts about the book.”

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