Teaching Reading in Middle School

We are learning metaphors in middle school, 
metaphors as a literary device rather than a lesson about life. 

The textbook says black is a symbol of evil
and white a symbol of purity, and I omit that in my lesson
because onyx is black, and so is the mother’s breast,

and gentrification is white, and colonization, 
dispossession of a tribal land a flurry of white, 

the way the dust roils and the bones left drying in the sun
are white. My students won’t get all this, not today, 

but when one of them draws a picture of a fist, 
clenched and raised, and says it is her metaphor for resistance

we spend the rest of the class period talking
about how a wall can stand for violence
and how a fist can often be a metaphor for hope.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Holly Kelso is a career educator, and has made the language and literacy of children and adults her focus for twenty-four years. An English Literature major from Stephens College, her writing appears in a variety of literary journals and publications. Holly resides in Boulder City, Nevada, the town that built Hoover Dam, where she teaches reading to middle school students.

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