The scholastic box came today. We have been waiting and waiting. . . forever it seems, with spring break in the mix. What is it about a box of new books? My favorite thing is to unpack the books with the kids, and savor the excitement. Today I had to unpack the box without them, so I left the stack on my table and realized a stack of books might be even better than a box. I enjoyed the questioning eyes, the pointing, the asking, “Are these books for us?”
Each time students asked me about the books, I pretended to think about it for a moment, but couldn’t let them worry about it for long. Yes! Yes the books are for you.
One lucky girl caught me before lunch, and asked for a copy of Counting by 7s, but the rest of the students have to wait until tomorrow when we will look at all the new titles together and settle on our lists of who gets the books. Tomorrow we will also choose our next read aloud. It will be a day of reading choices: My favorite kind of day.
But today was good too: A day for browsing and grabbing and previewing. Students came up at the end of the day to take a look at what their next book might be, ask to be first on the list, and recommend books from the pile to others.
I find it hard to describe, this feeling of joy while I listen to my students’ excitement over new books. My smile is hard to contain, and I love to listen in.
As I was reflecting on this time we spend in our classroom enjoying reading, I wondered if people might consider it wasted time. After all, “choosing books” is probably not a question on the state tests. (Although, I wouldn’t know since I’m not allowed to see the tests…) Yesterday I got a parent email that I think answers that question. The parent wrote “… she has finally and surprisingly become a lover of reading — thanks to your own love of reading and your great book suggestions. I want to thank you for the personal attentions that have helped her gain confidence. I am sure that she will be reflecting on your gentle and powerful influence for many years to come.”
I think she is most likely exaggerating my influence – her daughter is a reader and became one for many reasons. But, I like to think that the time we spend loving books, reading books, talking about books… and enjoying stories makes a difference to these kids.