I haven’t taught reading in ages. In the school where I teach, we’ve always switched classes for different subjects. While I have taught reading even in the switching model, it’s been a while since that subject was officially on my plate. I’ve been teaching math, writing, and social studies for the past several years.
Mostly I waded through math. I love numbers and computations and problem solving and how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square.
But teaching math? Well, that’s another story. With the standards we are required to teach, I often feel like I’m attempting to teach college-level mathematics to eleven-year olds which, by the way, is preposterous. I know I wasn’t solving for “y” until at least eighth grade.
In my old schedule, once I muddled through two periods of math, I looked forward to two periods of writing where we were writing machines, letting the creativity flow freely. Social studies always involved a trip to Revolutionary times which students consistently found fascinating.
Teaching reading this year, however, has breathed new life into my at-work experience. I’ve read so many children’s books over the summer and during these first weeks of school. I now see what I’ve been missing—the sheer joy of sharing treasured stories with children. I’m also digging the connections I can now make for students between reading AND writing because I can teach the two together to the same group of students. Our conversations have been so deep and meaningful and mature. I love hearing students’ thoughts about character, theme, and conflict. Watching them get lost in books is like watching magic happen. Listening to them talk to one another about stories is wonderful too, especially when they say things like, “I believe the life lesson the author is trying to convey to the reader is…”
Seriously. One of them used the word convey. I can die happy.
What’s really awesome is that many of these books we are sharing in reading class aren’t just entertaining for kids. I’ve laughed and cried through many of the pages, the stories truly moving and so well written. Even if you don’t teach or don’t have kids or grandkids, these are books you can enjoy just for the poignant tales they tell, the poetic words the authors use, the life lessons they offer. You might even learn a thing or two about writing.
Here’s some of the children’s books I’ve read so far (and the pile of to-be-reads grows every day):
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo
Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
Sophia’s War by Avi
The House of Tailors by Patricia Reilly Giff
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park
Freak, the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
The Promise, by Nicola Davies
A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson
Mr. Lincoln’s Way, by Patricia Polacco
As I said the list is endless. I’ll never live long enough to read all of them. I’ll give it my best shot though, and I can’t wait to discuss them with my students.
What’s a favorite children’s book that has stuck with you?
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