I realized today as my students sat quietly reading that if a stranger were to walk into our classroom, it would all look so effortless. As if the kids had always quietly settled in with their books and this hush had fallen over us. As if the kids had always read when I asked them to. As if they had always known just what to do and when to do so. Yet, that is not the true story. Ask any teacher and they will tell you; creating a space for independent reading time is not easy, nor does it just happen. It is hard work. It takes effort. It takes planning, and boy, does it take a lot of patience. It takes great books. It takes dedication. And it takes a community, takes trust, takes respect, and takes conversations.
We build our communities in small pieces. We plant the seeds on the very first day when we welcome our new kids into our lives and into our classrooms. When we say this is your room, these are your books, and we mean it.
We build it when we ask them to pick up the books. To read a few pages. To talk to one another and to share their truths. We build it when we accept their truths about why reading does not matter and promise that we will try to help them change their minds.
Every day as we plan our lessons and build our communities, we give them the reading pieces to place into the puzzle of their identities and hope they will see the value. And we do it one day at a time. One conversation at a time. One book at a time.
It may be almost December, we have so much time still left, and yet I cannot help but marvel at how far so many have come. How many actually will read, not because I ask them to but because it is their habit. How many of them will casually abandon a book because they know they can find a better one. How many of them will recommend a book because they want to, because they need to share it, because someone else deserves to have the same experience with this book that they just had.
This is work. This is love. This is what we do. And we do it in such small steps that sometimes we forget to look back at just how far we have come. So as I sit tonight, exhausted, thinking back to all of the moments we shared today, I also realize that while we are not all there yet, we have come a long way. We have already grown. We have become better readers, even if if for a second I may have forgotten that.
I am currently working on a new literacy book. The book, which I am still writing, is tentatively Passionate Readers and will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge. I also have a new book coming out January, 2017 called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum. So until then if you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.