Every year, we have tried to create a meaningful end to the year. A meaningful way for all of us to come together one last time, to cement the year we have had. To realize just how far we have come. In the past few years, it was our This I Believe speeches, given on the last few days where students sometimes decided to delve into their past as they looked at their future.
This year, I wanted something different and an idea I have heard both Donalyn Miller and Teri Lesene mention came to mind; the reader memoir. A seemingly simple narrative that would allow us to see the growth of our students as writers while they reflected upon their reading. A way for us to hear the truth that they carry within them, to see the hopes or fears they have for their future reading life.
So three weeks ago, as we started our final reading challenge (a self-selected book club or an independent reading challenge), I unveiled the project, to see the slides, go here. Write about your life as a reader. The good, the bad, the future, the past. Tell me about who you are now, how you have grown, the books you have cherished and those you didn’t. About what made you a reader or turned you away from reading.
At first, some kids were skeptical, after all, why would they want to write about that, and yet as the memoirs themselves start to roll in, I cannot help but sit in awe as my students dive into their own reading experiences to share who they are as readers now.
“If we lived in a world without books, I’d make my own…”
“When we’re asked to read in class, I actually read.”
“I don’t think I was meant to be a reader.”
“My parents would sit with me and my siblings, reading us stories, and we would huddle close and listen. Then I would begin to slump, falling asleep to the flowing words.”
As my students’ words surround me, I cannot help but be grateful for the words they have chosen to share, the truths they have given me as I prepare for another set of readers and nonreaders next year. What a way to end, by knowing them even more. What a way for them to end, by knowing themselves a little more. Perhaps, this will be something they also remember.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first 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.