We’d been talking about what it means to feel different – to be misunderstood because of how you look, the clothes you wear or the language you speak. The conversations stemmed from a book we were reading called Lead With Your Heart in which the main character decorates an ugly pair of white tennis shoes and wears them to school. The reaction of the other students was predictably unkind at first, and most of the students reading the story with me could understand why. As one eleven year old put it, “She was asking for trouble. You don’t want to mess with the fashion police.”
Fast forward a week. The students had had a chance to read how the challenge was resolved in the book, but more importantly had been asked to design their own shoes. We asked them to decorate their shoes so they showed what they were like on the inside. As usual the kids surprised and delighted me with their creativity and candor as they revealed their love of rainbows and stained glass, pit bulls and Jurassic Park, and Notre Dame football. But don’t take my word for it. Here is what some of the 2nd – 4th graders had to say about their shoes:
Bianca – Go Black Hawks!
My shoes have a lot to say. I put bows on here because I have lots of friends. The rainbow shoelaces show I am a happy person, and the hearts show I am a hugger. I like to hug people. I also love cats, so there is a cat down here on the side beside the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is there because I am part French. Oh, and I love the Black Hawks! Go Black Hawks!
Emily – My Dog Shoes
My shoes show that I love my dogs and they love me. I love them like they are human. My mom has three pit bulls and my grandma has two. Grandma also has a border collie named Rocky. Pit bulls are the best dogs. They are loving and kind and sweet.
Elyssa – Bob’s Shoes
I love Bob’s Shoes because they make purple and green shoes and those are my favorite colors. Green is also my Mom’s favorite color. Blue makes me think of watching TV. I used orange because it shows I like playing and purple because it makes me think of playing outside.
Gloria – Fuschia Shoes
I really like to paint things pink. These lines show water moving. I like the way water sounds when it moves. These lines here show trees blowing in the wind.
Arjum – You Rock!
My shoes have stars because I rock. I also made them red and green because I like Christmas. The purple and yellow are to show a cool pattern, and the blue reminds me of water.
Caleb – Notre Dame Shoes
These are my Notre Dame shoes. I made them because my brother plays football for Notre Dame. He is a defensive lineman. I love football, but I miss my brother. He left in September and I hope he comes home soon to visit.
Diego – Stained Glass Shoes
I like rainbows and stained glass a lot. I used blue because it’s my favorite color.
Shivam – Jurassic World Shoes
I made Jurassic World shoes cuz I love Jurassic World. I used yellow in my shoes because yellow is the color of a lot of dinosaurs. I used blue to show the creatures that live in the water and green to show the leaf eaters. I used red to show the meat eater animals. In my Jurassic World you can level up so I created a three star system.
Okay, so now it’s your turn! What do your shoes say about you?