|image from icanread|
I have always been a reader. Some of my earliest memories revolve around books and when that book stumbles back into my life the memories flood back. Sleeping Beauty was my first book that I read in English, not bad for a Danish 6 year old girl. I just offered that same copy to Thea as she turned 4 and she gleefully accepted, well-knowing that it had something to do with a princess. I always have a book going, sometimes more than one but I try to remain faithful. I read whenever I can and have even been known to sneak books to school for my recess and lunch time. Our home has many books and spend way too much money at bookstores and too much time at libraries.
So why is it, that I have always hated teaching reading? At least, until today.
Teaching reading is a different beast. After all, how do you teach that a book can feel like home? That a book can make you less lonely when you once again move to a new place. That a book will bring people back from the dead, if even for a short time. That it will transport and transform an otherwise humdrum train ride, afternoon, or even class if snuck into a desk properly. How do you teach that? Sure, you can talk about it but books have to seep into the lives of children for them to full understand.
I can teach reading, sure; how to read the words, how to sound them out, figure out their meaning, but I cannot seem to teach the falling in love. And yet, something has changed in my room this year; I have finally brought myself into the room as a reader.
I had never shared much of my reading life, sure I would tell the kids how much I read, but I didn’t share the stacks of books next to my bed, or the excitement over discovering a new book. I never rushed into school just to grab a book I forgot or excitedly handed a book to a kid, knowing that they would love it as much as I did, telling them to hurry up and read it so we could talk about it. I loved to read but my kids didin’t really know it.
This year our books take front and center. We read and we read a lot. We now share our books through Biblionasium and through conversation. We swap books, borrow books, and abandon books when needed. We keep our reading time sacred; not the first thing to be sacrificed in an otherwise hectic school day, but the last. We talk about us as readers and just how excited we are. I have finally brought myself into the room in all my glorious book nerddom and the students have embraced and cherished me as one of theirs; a fellow reader who happens to have a lot of books to share and sometimes have to share some lessons.
Sure, there are days where kids drag their feet. Sure, there are days where my lessons fall apart and the kids talk too much and we don’t get to what we need, but then we read. And when we read everything else seems to go back to being ok.
Today I watched in awe as 20 5th graders sat silently, not through threats, but through the power of books. They groaned when I told them it was time to pack up. They asked if they could read just one more minute and dragged their feet when the end was inevitable. They are readers. And I am a reading teacher.