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Engaging grades 5-6: The Costumed Crusaders, Charlotte (Vt.) Central School

When the fifth and sixth graders gathered in the cafeteria for my visit to this K-8 school, quite a few were wearing unique and original superhero costumes, with colorful capes and hoods and masks. I soon found out why.

Groups of these characters came to the front and told how they had contributed, as superheroes, to their class's reading of The Revealers. Declared the Purple Phantoms: "Our role during our reading was to find hidden acts, both good and evil." Said The Red Caped Robins: "Our role was to identify 'the truth of the matter.'" Explained the Yellow Lanterns: "Sometimes it was obvious what the characters should do. But other times our Darkland friends were lost. That's when we come in." Said the Batman Darkland Protectors: "We ... made suggestions in our journals about what should have happened, what the school should have done, and how the children could have reacted in not-so-great circumstances."

Combining kids' love of costumes and heroic escapades with the story's focus on finding your own power, Charlotte Central made a reading experience that got students digging deeply—and dissolving the distance between a work of fiction and their own inner lives.

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