Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wordplay Challenge #21: Commit It to Memory

This week's challenge is based on an assignment that my eighth graders are working on this week. Inspired by Langston Hughes's poem "Aunt Sue's Stories," they are retelling family stories that they would like to continue to pass down through the generations. Some students are writing stories, while others have chosen to compose narrative poems.

Each day this week, we have heard stories about births and adoptions, escapes from war-torn countries and immigration to new countries, arranged marriages and romantic elopements, and moments that tore families apart and pulled them together. I've been amazed and overwhelmed to discover which stories these young people have identified as truly valuable, stories that they will no doubt share with their own children someday.

As storytellers and memory keepers, we are responsible for finding ways to ensure that our family histories survive. The oral tradition is one way of doing this, but by recording these stories in our scrapbooks, we "commit" them to memory.

This time around, our challenge is to find a way to document a story that you hope each generation of your family will remember. It is a chance for us to remember (and I know I've used this before) "what it would impoverish us to forget," as Frost once said

Even if you don't have a photo, tell the story. If you feel the need to include a photo, consider taking a photo of something symbolic -- something or someone that represents the story that you are documenting.