1st Edition

Start with Joy Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness

By Katie Cunningham Copyright 2019

    In Start with Joy: Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness, author Katie Cunningham links what we know from the science of happiness with what we know about effective literacy instruction. When given a choice about what to write, children express hopes, fears, and reactions to life's experiences. Literacy learning is full of opportunities for students to learn tools to live a happy life. Inside, you'll find:

    • Seven Pillars: Cunningham discusses the seven pillars that guide her classrooms and are involved in each literacy lesson'sConnection, Choice, Challenge, Play, Story, Discovery, and Movement.
    • Ten Invitations: Designed for teachers to improvise and make their own, these ten lessons may be presented at any time of year in the context of any unit and include children's literature suggestions as well as recommended teacher talk to meet children's specific needs.
    • Teaching Tools: Tools and resources that will help students tell their stories and make literacy learning something all students celebrate and cherish.
    This book honors the adventure that learning is meant to be and aims to make happiness more tangible in the classroom. By infusing school days with happiness, teachers can support children as they become stronger readers, writers, and thinkers, while also helping them learn that strength comes from challenge, and joy comes from leading a purposeful life.

    Chapter 1: Why Happiness? Why Now?; Part 1: Happiness Pillars; Chapter 2: Connection; Chapter 3: Choice; Chapter 4: Challenge; Chapter 5: Play; Chapter 6: Story; Chapter 7: Discovery; Chapter 8: Movement; Chapter 9: Becoming a Designer; Part 2: Invitations; Invitation 1: The Best Part of Me; Invitation 2: What Do I Notice and Wonder (About Me?); Invitation 3: What Makes Me Feel Strong?; Invitation 4: Power Poses; Invitation 5: Closely Reading Characters to Closely Read Me and You; Invitation 6: I Am, I Can, I Did; Invitation 7: Hmm . . . Yes, And; Yes, But; No, Because; Invitation 8: Three Good Things; Invitation 9: Asking Questions Gets Us to Better Questions; Invitation 10: Listening with Love


    Katie Egan Cunningham believes in the power of stories. First as a classroom teacher, and now as a professor and consultant, Katie strives to let her students know their lives are full of stories. She lives with her husband and two sons where hilarious, heartfelt stories happen each day.

    “An insightful guide full of stories and research to promote the contentment of children in the classroom. Cunningham’s book about happiness and advocacy for a mind-body connection is more relevant now than ever before!” —Michael J. Hynes, Superintendent of Schools, Patchogue-Medford School District

    "In Start with Joy, Katie Cunningham shows readers how you can nourish happiness while still maintaining high literacy standards and getting the results you want—happy students who are readers, writers, and effective communicators. It's a win-win for all." —Jennifer Allen, author of Becoming a Literacy Leader, Second Edition

    “This book is beautifully written to help teachers visualize what true student happiness looks, sounds, and feels like. After reading Katie’s suggestions, teachers will have a clear pathway for what they can try tomorrow to increase happiness levels. What I love most is that this is not one more thing to fit into the day—it is framed as ways of being with children that can be incorporated into what all teachers are already doing. My hope is that every single student has a teacher who designs with happiness as the main objective and I am grateful that there is now a place to turn to for ideas and support.” —Gravity Goldberg, author of Teach Like Yourself: How Authentic Teaching Transforms Our Students and Ourselves
      “This is the book I have been waiting for. Teaching is more than a profession; it is a way of life. Teachers and students alike need to live and learn with greater happiness and joy. With some ‘self-literacy’ strategies as a key goal in every lesson, Katie shows us how to make connections with our learning and with others in more meaningful ways. I believe that connection is at the heart of happiness, and I believe this book is an invaluable tool to help us achieve it.” —Paula Bourque, author of Spark: Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms
      “If anyone knows how to cultivate a ‘culture of happiness’ in the classroom, it’s Katie. In Start with Joy, she challenges educators to ‘prioritize happiness’ by embracing the seven main pillars she’s developed through her extensive research that, used alongside culturally sustaining practices and attention to students’ hearts, minds, and bodies, will ultimately lead to more joyful, playful, and purposeful classroom experiences for all.” —Shawna Coppola, author of Renew: Become a Better and More Authentic Writing Teacher
      “Katie Cunningham proposes in her new book, Start with Joy, that by teaching in ways that value the heart of our humanity—connection, choice, challenge, play, story, discovery, and movement—we pave the pathway to help students become stronger readers and writers. Katie’s book offers readers inspired ideas, compelling research, and a treasure trove of rich, carefully selected children’s literature recommendations to give us a sensible, refreshing road map for breathing life back into our literacy classrooms.” —Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, authors of Who’s Doing the Work? How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More
      “In Start With Joy, Katie Cunningham draws on a robust body of research to prove that happiness should be cultivated, observed, and reinforced. By reflecting on the stories, accomplishments, and relationships that bring them joy, students can rely on their own resources rather than outside factors in order to feel happy. Finding boundless happiness in her work with children and teachers, she offers a road map for inviting joy into all literacy learning. When building a collection of teacher resources, start with Cunningham!” —Suzanne Farrell Smith, author of The Writing Shop: Putting 'Shop' Back in Writing Workshop
      "A while ago, a few friends and I discussed what we hoped for in life. After much discussion, we all came to the conclusion that we hope for happiness for ourselves, our loved ones, our students, and each other. So, when I sat down to read Start with Joy! I was thrilled! In our increasingly standards-based, testing-focused, stress-inducing school system, happiness is typically neither prioritized nor valued. Enter Katie's beautiful call to action. Katie’s Seven Pillars will benefit all teachers and students in all classrooms by bringing the focus back to happiness without sacrificing literacy learning. In fact, her practical suggestions and invitations will enhance literacy learning in classrooms- I know it will in mine! I look forward to turning to this text again and again in my work with both students and teachers."  —Christina Nosek, co-author of To Know and Nurture a Reader: Conferring with Confidence and Joy