The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Report from the Field: Caldwell Public Library, New Jersey

Caldwell, New Jersey

Carissa DiMattia's photograph inspired by "The Rainy Day"

For the month of March work by 38 of art teacher Linda Stewart's students was on display in the Caldwell Public Library as part of the community?s Big Read of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"It was all, 'Oh, Mrs. Stewart,' rolling their eyes, and whining, 'This is hard?.""said Stewart about telling her students at Mount St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell, New Jersey, that they would be creating photographs inspired by the 19th-century poet for The Big Read.

Elisabeth Lembo's photograph inspired by "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls"

"But you know, soon they started to get into the poems and realize all the phrases of his they already knew and why he was so popular. It was like he was writing today," Stewart added.

Stewart loved witnessing the transformation and remembers one student in particular struggling with the lines from Longfellow?s "Kéramos." "All things must change/To something new, to something strange;/ Nothing that is can pause or stay;. . . "

"She was very quiet, very shy and she kept trying to say what the lines meant to her, finally I said, "Stop trying to impress me and just tell me what does it make you think of.'"

Christa Kelly's photograph "Footprints" inspired by "A Psalm of Life"

Then the student said, "You know when I was in eighth grade we used to go to a pizzeria and in the back there was a booth where we used to sit, the same booth all the time, and it was such a cool place. Now I?m 18 and I went by there and saw the booth and it didn?t seem like anything at all. It?s just a pizzeria."

"'You got it,' I told her," and Stewart said the student went on to do fantastic work.

To learn more about Caldwell Public Library's Big Read of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, visit The Big Read website.

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