Our first chapter book read aloud this year was Save Me a Seat by Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks. It’s an amazing book for so many reasons, and was the perfect first read aloud for our class. While we felt it allowed for natural segues into many of the beginning of the school year discussions and activities, it’s a perfect book for anytime of the year.
There are two narrators which leads to two vastly different perspectives (often on the same event). Our students reflected often on how two people can experience the same events very differently. This helped them brainstorm ways to be understanding and empathic. One of our students referenced part of the book as an explanation of how misunderstandings happen and why assumptions are dangerous.
One of the main characters, Ravi, is a new student (and recent immigrant). His experiences helped us talk about how we want people to feel in our classroom. Joe, the other main character, feels like a target at school, and before we brainstormed agreements (rules) for our class contract, we discussed what we can do to make sure no one has to feel like Joe did in our community. Students also really identified with Ravi’s frustration when his name was mispronounced and talked seriously about the importance of using names carefully and respectfully. The other day, when a substitute teacher was in our class, the students took it upon themselves to carefully learn her name even after she said it was a hard name and they were welcome to call her Mrs. K instead. Continue reading.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks, Gita Varadarajan
Published by Scholastic Press on 2016
Genres: Bullying, Friendship, Immigration and Emigration
Reading Level: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Review Source: Teach Pluralism
Publisher's Synopsis: Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they're both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL. Joe's lived in the same town all his life and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi's family just moved to America from India, and he's finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don't think they have anything in common — but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.