Today I sat in church with a good friend whom I happened to run into yesterday at the Book Exchange. She asked me if I found any good books, and I sheepishly replied that I bought about 10. I told her that I also raided my mother-in-law’s Young Adult bookshelf at her house for about 15 other books. I am quite proud of the books I picked up yesterday!
We started discussing our reading habits, and she confessed to me that she loves to read fiction, but she is trying to branch out and push herself to read more nonfiction. I told her that I have been reading a lot of professional books here lately (keep reading and I will tell you my top two favorites), but I am looking forward to diving back into some Young Adult novels. I also shared with her the title of a book I think she’d love even though it’s for younger readers. (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi – if you haven’t read it, get it and do it! It’s fabulous!)
We continued to discuss the books I’ve recently acquired for my students. I told her that my goal is for my children to do the same thing that she and I had done while waiting on the service to begin – to discuss what they’ve read, to make goals for expanding their reading repertoires, and to share good books with others. I was eager to get some good deals on new books so I could recommend some new (i.e., new as in titles I don’t currently possess in my classroom library, not new as in recently published) titles with them.
I’ve recently finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller at the recommendation of my friend and colleague (Lit Lady). If you teach upper elementary or middle school reading (heck, even high school), YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. This is stronger than a recommendation – read it, read it, read it! (Click here for information on how to order it.) Donalyn is the inspiration behind my recent book acquirements!
I love situations like today where I can sit with a friend and discuss what I’ve read. I want my students to be able to do the same thing. I loved reading The Book Whisperer because Donalyn makes it seem easy with down-to-earth and self-tested strategies for how to make this a reality for your students. She also discusses some of her attempts at getting her students to love reading that have failed. When you read it, you will say, “me too,” and “uh-huh,” and maybe even a “preach it, sister!” If you teach reading and you want your students to do more than know your state’s standards – if you want them to know the standards and develop a hard-core lifelong love of reading, get this book!
After discussing books with my friend, I enjoyed a wonderful sermon. I found it amusing, however, that as our pastor preached, I thought, “ooh, that’s a simile,” laughed at a pun, and even found examples of personification and alliteration sprinkled throughout the sermon. It made me nearly laugh out loud at how nerdy I am – for heaven's sake, I sat there and dissected his speech for examples from my state standard curriculum! Even though I was nearly ashamed of myself for delighting in the literary aspects of the sermon, I hope that my students internalize these concepts themselves and find themselves being just as nerdy as me when they grow up. What fun!
So here’s to a love of reading, nerdiness, and all wonderful things teaching! Have a wonderful week!
PS - Another book that has absolutely transformed my outlook on teaching is by Rafe Esquith, a teacher in Los Angeles, entitled Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire. If you love teaching, this is also a MUST READ! I'm sure one day I'll devote an entire post to this book since I love it so much!