Still Thinking About This Today, Because on Thursday It Blew My Mind

Each year in September, I challenge my fourth-graders to read 25 books in a school year.  This challenge was a legacy from my predecessor--one of the very few useful things left to me.

This week I gave my "almost one-month warning" that the cut-off date was coming, so that either the last class or the penultimate class of the year (we meet weekly except when other events intervene, which is frustratingly too often) we have a little party, they get certificates for the fridge and little prizes, etc.  Usually at the beginning of class, they update their logs and often volunteer what they've been reading, or ask questions about something they've read.

On Thursday, a child who normally doesn't pipe up--and sometimes is too shy to ask for help--said she was reading Team of Rivals.

I actually had to repeat the title back to her to confirm what I'd heard.

"So are you reading it with a parent or just by yourself?" I asked her.  She said by herself, which very well may be true if, as I suspect, it was a book that was in the house because it was already read by one of her parents.  Lord knows when I was a kid I read anything people left lying around that I could get my hands on--not to mention the books I would steal from Older Brother's bookcase.  

Side note: After probably a year of sisterly theft, I got busted for borrowing The Hobbit because he wanted it back to re-read.  That probably explains why I have been cursed with starting that book and never finishing it, at least twice now.  I have a library copy in my car right now, not started, actually.

Anyway, I told the student she could count that as three books read (it's huge).  That was the start of probably the best class I had all week--pretty surprising, because they are a really volatile combination of kids, although I now recall that one of the agitators was on vacation, as was the special needs classmate (whose moods can turn on a dime).  Maybe the class felt more at ease.  We had a thoughtful discussion about a poet and did some poetry analysis, which we will finish next week.  I wish it could be like that all the time.

I wish it were enough to change my mind about everything I said in my last post, too.



C. Allen said…
I've been reading about your life for a while and want to pass on the suggestion that you may be interested in Michael Stephens' librarian web site/blog "Tame the Web". Recently he recommended a course (free, I think)about librarianship. Also, as my child was growing up I casually left books laying around that I thought she may want to or should read. If I had made a big deal out of them she'd avoid them on principle. (I would have had the same reaction!) She went on to graduate from St. John's - where her special talents in reading and arguing were valued. I am a retired librarian and often thought about working in a school library.
Kate P said…
Hey, C. Allen--I appreciate the comment. That's a cool story about "leaving books around"! You never know how you're going to reach some kids, right?
You probably would be awesome in a school library. (You know, if they actually wanted librarians anymore.)

I believe you did recommend Michael Stephens before; I don't know what to make of the site. Is it all-digital, all-the-time, or nothing? I'm not sure that's where I fit.

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