Roller Coaster is a picture book written and illustrated by Marla Frazee. It's about riding a roller coaster. When I first read this book I hated it. I thought it was lame, and then my students led me to an epiphany.
When I first read this book to my class it was obvious that I wasn't impressed with it, as one of my students observed,"Miss C, I am thinking you might not like this book."
"You're right. I'm sorry, I should not have read this to you, but I feel like there is a great read aloud experience somewhere in this book."
"Have you ever ridden a roller coaster?"
"No, I have not."
"Well, duh, Miss C. You don't like this book because you can't make a connection to it. Think about what you taught us."
A few days later, I read the book again. I had the students sit in a line in pairs, and we rode the roller coaster together. We locked ourselves in and when the roller coaster jerked forward to begin its ascent, we jerked forward and leaned back as we climbed to the highest peak before the drop. "Clickity-clackity, clickity-clackity, up, up, up, and then . . . . " At this point my teaching partner, Colleen, would scream at the top of her lungs, "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!" Roller Coaster is now one of my favorite picture books. I use it to teach text-to-self connections.
The reader may be thinking what kind of a lousy lead in is this? I want to ride a roller coaster. I want my heart to pound with excitement when I begin the ascent. I want the centrifugal force to push my dumbo ears to the back of my head. (Maybe if I rode more roller coasters, my ears wouldn't stick out.) I want to throw my hands in the air and scream with semi-delight and semi-fear. And when the ride is over, I want to look at my friend and shout, "Let's do that again," as we run on our wobbly legs to the end of the line. And again, my heart pounds with excitement . . . . . . .
But, I do ride a roller coaster everyday. Here comes the tacky cliche, I ride the roller coaster of life. I teach. Everyday my heart pounds with excitement when I step on campus to begin our students' ascent to excellence. As I zoom from one classroom to another, the wind whips through my spiky, short hair and causes my ears to flap. When I finish teaching a lesson that I know was spot-on I scream with delight. When I teach a lesson that bombed, I throw my hands in the air, scream and then I start thinking about how I will make it better. When the day is done and my dear friend, Janet, and I are making our way home at dusk, (I know the reader think teachers only work 8 to 3, but that is wrong. Most teachers work 12 hour shifts and carry a bucket-load of work home every night.) we look at each other and shout, "Let's do that again!" And the next day, my heart pounds with excitement . . . . . . .
I ride the roller coaster of life. I share air with Flip.
The Flip Side
I ride the roller coaster of life. I . . . I . . . I don't understand tacky metaphors.