Miss Rumphius may not seem an obvious choice for reading to your students at the beginning of the school year, but it’s one that poses a question I like students to ponder at both the beginning of the year and again at the end – how will you make the world a more beautiful place? The main character is Alice, also later known as the Lupine Lady, who is tasked by her grandfather to do three things in life: go to faraway places, grow old and return to live beside the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. Making a mark of beauty in the world is a task I like to present to my students as well. I like them to think of all the ways they can make our classroom, school, community, and world a more beautiful place. Many will go with obvious answers like clean up the classroom, pick up trash at a park or on the side of a road, or plant flowers like the Lupine Lady. However, if you allow them to dig deeper they’ll realize that beauty goes beyond the literal definition. Beauty can appear in a hug you give your mom, a helping hand you offer your father or the gentle gesture of standing beside someone who feels down. Beauty can appear in the poem you write in class, a story you share aloud, or the song you sing with the chorus. Beauty can be the time you spend working in the garden with your grandmother, cooking and sharing a meal with family, or making peace with an enemy. It’s a question that should be posted in every classroom; a constant reminder that we all have to do our part to make a lasting, beautiful mark on the world around us. Grab the freebie bookmark here.