August 27, 2015

Great Beginnings

Here we all are, at the start of the school year.  For our preschool children and our Kindergartners, this is a real beginning. For our families who did not attend Friends’ last year, this is all new.  For all of us, this is the beginning of a new adventure and untold stories.

On our first day of elementary school this week, I shared with the students that the first day of school can be like the first line of a new book.  Some first lines are not very exciting, and the book isn’t great either.  Some first lines are not very exciting, but nonetheless they lead to a fabulous story. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis comes to mind.  It’s a wonderful tale that has entertained generations, but the first line is a bit of a snoozer: "Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy."

There are books with dynamic first lines, but the rest of the story may not live up to the first billing:  “The whole thing would never have happened if I hadn’t worn my brother’s underwear to school that day.”  What an opening!  I didn’t find the rest of Bruce Coville’s Jennifer Murdley’s Toad quite so compelling.

And then there are those stories that dazzle at the start, and go on to even greater things:

"All children, except one, grow up."

"Where's Papa going with that axe?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

You likely recognize both of those lines from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web respectively. Two of the best books ever written, in my humble opinion.

Here we are at the beginning of school.  We’re at the first line.  We’re not quite sure how the story will unfold.  Like any good plot, there will be successes as well as obstacles to overcome. There will be heroes and allies, people who help our characters get to where their hearts desire. They may get  sidetracked and sent on some unforeseen quests.  But, like any great book, the story will unfold in the way it’s supposed to and we fully anticipate a suspense-filled and ultimately  happy ending.  At the end of the year, we won’t be able to wait for the sequel!

I’ll leave you with another of my favorite first lines, written by the fabulous Jon Scieszka in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs:  "Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do. But I'll let you in on a little secret. Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story. I'm the Wolf."

There’s always another side of the story! Let’s all have a wonderful school year.

(To see some wonderful photos of the first week of elementary school, please visit our Facebook page.)

No comments: