Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sensing and Connecting

I had always thought that the connections we make between life experiences and the five senses were fascinating.  Several years ago, upon reading A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman, I became even more aware of the ways in which I perceived particular moments in time, as well as how others "sensed" them.  Ackerman explores the senses in historic and vivid detail in this engrossing book which I go to again and again.  I highly recommend it.

My interest in this topic was peaked again when I came across A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.  This young adult novel is about Mia, a 13-yr old for whom letters, numbers, and sounds have color.  In the course of the novel she is diagnosed with synesthesia - "a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway." (Wikipedia)  How fascinating! 

While we watch Mia struggle with her condition in this story, we also get to see the reactions of people who are close to her.  This is a story about growing up, discovering who you are, friendship, and family.  I enjoyed it.

As soon as I started A Mango-Shaped Space, I began making connections to A History of the Senses, which was a nonfiction piece.  This kind of text-to-text connection makes learning concrete.  It's a big part of teaching reading to children.  Being aware of these connections makes us better readers and teachers!

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