Friday, May 27, 2016

The Joy a Book Can Bring

I think sometimes I take for granted that my two boys are avid readers and love to read. Sometimes I wonder how it all happened. What did I do to make them love to read? What did their teachers do to make them love to read?

The thing is, I don't think it was any "one" thing. I think there can be a variety of things that inspire the love of reading, and what inspired one child may not inspire another.  As I look around our house though, I notice something very obvious: we have books everywhere. Since before they were born there were books in the house.

This made me think about some of my students. I can’t help but think that some are going home to houses where the only books they have are the ones brought home from school.  How are they ever going to find that book that sparks their interest or inspires them to keep reading when they don’t have anything to pick up and read?

So I started talking to kids.  

We would sit in my office and talk about books.  Conversations varied depending on the students. Some sounded like this?

Me: Do you like to read?
Student: No
Me: Why not?
Student: It’s boring.
Me: What kind of books do you have at home?
Student: None

Right then I knew that they just haven’t found the right book.  We would continue to talk about their interests in order for me to help figure out a book recommendation.

Two Quick Stories
I’ve been working with a student who has had a similar conversation to the example above.  He always said there was nothing he liked until one day he mentioned that there was one book he liked.  Just one.  And his teacher had it.  He went back to class to get it. He brought it in and we hopped online and ordered six of them. He was so excited. The books came in and he couldn't wait to read them. He was in disbelief when I said he could take them home and they were his to keep.
Just a few of the books the kids picked out 
Two girls came in one day to talk to me in my office. They just wanted to talk. To be honest, they struggle sometimes making positive choices and they follow each other's lead. When one does something, so does the other. One of them saw a new book I had in my office and we started talking about books. One shared that her favorite books were Dr. Seuss. The other one agreed. I asked if they had any at home and they both said no. Actually, they said they don't really have any books at home. So I went online and ordered some books.  Every day they would check in with me to see if they arrived. We sat down and they went through all the books. Their faces lit up! We made a plan. They'd each get a book. Every Friday after that, if they were working hard in their class, they could come pick a book to take home and keep. They literally squealed in delight walking out of my office with books in their hands.

The story doesn't end there. My conversation with many kids turns to books. I always ask about books they have at home and when I hear they don't, we hop online and order, or I find books in my own home, or hit up the local garage sale site on Facebook.

I realized that buying books for kids is something I love to do.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but the light in their eyes and excitement in their voice is priceless.  From here on out I will always make sure my budget allows for books.  Not just for books in the library or classrooms, but books kids can take home and call their own.  

Will just the simple act of buying books inspire the love of reading?  Maybe, maybe not.  But nothing can deny what I saw and felt in those moments with the kids as they walked away with their own book.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Last Month Matters

I read How Many Days Left Do You Have to Make a Difference by Dr. Todd Schmidt and it inspired me to share my thoughts. 

As the end of the year approaches there's so much to think about as we wrap up the current year and plan for the text.  And we can't deny that some are daydreaming about time off and upcoming vacations during summer. But I can't help think about our kids. 

Our kids deserve our very best until the bell rings on the last day of school. Although some are looking forward to the end and moving on into the summer, some are not. 

Some of our students best hours of the day are at school. They look forward to coming to school to learn, to have fun, to be with friends, to find security, to feel loved, to experience calm and structure. 


So when some people talking about looking forward to the end of the year, some students might be dreading it. Anxiety increases. Fear of the unknown. Sadness hearing about vacations they're not going to take.

This is something I like to keep in mind when we approach a break from school, especially summer.  My hope is we continue to love them up, keep structure and learning in our classrooms, and have fun with them until the last day. Not only do feel they deserve it, but I strongly believe they need it!