Over the last few weeks, all lower school students read I Am The Subway by Korean author Kim Hyo-eun (translated by Deborah Smith), a beautifully illustrated depiction of passengers on the Korean subway. As the Bergen Street Book Club (BSBC) fall selection, the book introduced students to the concept of sonder—the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, in which you might appear only once in the background.
Students were invited to pay closer attention while on their subway rides, become more aware of the other passengers, and to consider that every person on the train has a story, a family they love, and dreams they cherish. They were also asked to reflect on their own feelings and sensory experiences such as sounds and visuals while on their commutes.
Through read-alouds, discussions, and activities, students explored the commonalities and differences between Korean families and their own. Students created ‘in-transit’ written reflections, poems, haikus, and graphic depictions that were displayed on bulletin boards for all to see. They were excited to check out each others’ projects on a gallery walk through stairwell B.
The Bergen Street Book Club gives students the shared experience of reading a single book. It is wonderful to witness the variety of ways students across age groups and skill levels can connect with, learn from, and enjoy the same book. The spring Bergen Street Book Club selection will be chosen in January.
Special thanks to LS librarian Rebecca Beck and also to Head Teacher Divya Seshadri, who volunteered to take on the task of creating resources and guides for the faculty this year.