Written by Rhiannon Navin
Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a … journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.
Primary Source Pairing:
From the first page of this book, the compelling narrative of six-year-old Zach makes you want to simultaneously close the book and keep reading. Zach’s true and genuine understanding of the world is a strong juxtaposition to the action or lack thereof to ensure children like Zach do not need to hide in classroom closets for safety. We live in a generation where school shootings are terrifyingly common. Any student in a K-12 public school has done lockdown drills as many times as they’ve taken the Illinois standardized test, if not more. For this primary source pairing, invite students to watch a speech given by President Obama on January 5, 2016. In his speech, President Obama talks about the “fierce urgency of now” in passing safe gun laws. Now almost four years later, there is still legislation waiting to move forward on safer gun laws, universal background checks, and mental health support. Begin watching the video at 33:34 minutes for President Obama’s comments on school shootings.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see and hear.
- What do you notice first?
- What’s happening in the video?
- What people and objects are shown?
- How are they arranged?
- What is the physical setting?
- Make a connection with something President Obama spoke about and a passage you read in the book Only Child.
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“The President Announces Commonsense Steps to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands” The Obama White House YouTube
“10 years. 180 school shootings. 356 victims.” CNN
Use the multiple infographics for visual analysis.
March For Our Lives: https://marchforourlives.com/