Hand Over the Lid


Lori Sabo

May 17, 2024

My parents and I were working on a jigsaw puzzle recently, and I wondered about a piece. I asked for the lid so I could Where’s Waldo?—style find the answers to “What is this?” and “Where does it fit?”

Having access to the picture on the lid helped me move the piece from isolation to how it fit into the whole.

If we were to dump all the pieces of reading on a table, you might see these:

Those of you teaching reading know that’s not all. It is more like a 1,000-piece puzzle.

Isolated skill and strategy lessons are important pieces to creating competent readers, but if we want to create lifelong readers, we must metaphorically hand over the lid often. Students must see the beauty of the complete picture, and that comes from things like read-alouds, audiobooks, and exposure to exquisite writing.

I handed over the lid this week when I read A Walk in the Words by Hudson Talbott, and a fourth grader exclaimed, “That is me! He is talking about me! I have dyslexia! I have to work hard at reading just like he did!” He was elated to see his experience captured so beautifully, and inspired that someone like him became an author/illustrator.

I hand over the lid every time I read The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak or Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems to a new group of first graders. The laughter is uproarious, and they want into this amazing association where written words can delight.

I handed over the lid when I got excited this week, learning something brand new as a third-grade student shared that my prediction about who would win in Crocodile Monitor vs. Southern Cassowary by Nathan Sommer was incorrect. I responded with the right measure of horror, amazement, and delight as he taught me about “the most dangerous bird on earth.”

I hand over the lid when I give a student a book and say, “I have been saving this for you because I think you will love it” and they come back a week later and say, “I did love it. Do you have any more books like this?”

I know you do it, too. We are deeply involved in the daily work of putting pieces together. Let’s be aware of and celebrate the moments we give students a glimpse of the joyous, beautiful, whole picture.

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