Hogwarts Reading Cave (Day 189/365)

Today I designed my Hogwarts reading cave.

This is like a cardboard “fort” for March 2, Read Across America Day, not coincidentally the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Mine is one of about ten such structures being designed and built by various classes at Newnan Crossing. On March 1, we’ll assemble our reading caves, and on March 2, classes will come to the media center and snuggle into the cave of their choice to read for a while.

It ought to be very cool. We did this before, a couple of years ago when I just plain forgot about Read Across America Day. Usually media centers schedule people to come read to classes. I get friends and theatre folk, plus cheerleaders and high school athletes. It’s a big deal, and it’s a lot of work, so when I realized that RAAD was one week away, I had to punt.

It was about as cheesy a ploy as you can imagine. Carol Ward and I turned tables on their sides, dragged stuff around, and covered all kinds of spaces with sheets and bulletin board paper. We borrowed lamps and extension cords from teachers. We put out a sign-up list, turned out the lights, and the kids had a fabulous time.

The prototype of the idea comes from A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander et al., which is a 70s kind of grammar in urban/living space. It moves from “small towns separated by green space” (…oh well…) to “well-defined neighborhood areas” to ideas for rooms in individual houses. One of these ideas is “Child Caves,” because children like to have places they can hide from everyone.

So it doesn’t matter that what we provided last time was just bulletin board paper taped over overturned tables. It was a “secret place,” and the kids snuggled in just fine.

This time, of course, we’re using cardboard rivets and getting fancy. I’m putting two tables at opposite ends of an aisle and surrounding them with cardboard. Outside, it will have some semblance of Hogwarts drawn/painted onto it. Inside, there will be four “rooms”: the entrance hall and the Slytherin commons room beneath the tables, and the Dining Hall and the Gryffindor commons room on top of the tables.

I’ll collect the cardboard over winter break, and maybe get it drawn out and painted as well. If not, then I can always con the members of the 100 Book Club into helping out in some kind of “special meeting” that week.

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