These talented girls from a small island in Maine sure got this right. It really is all about the books.
Earlier this week our class got a generous donation of books from a very generous Maine author. My kids LOVE her books and the fact that a few brand new books came into our classroom from her made them all the more special.
When I walked into the classroom with a bag full of new award winning books for my kids, they went wild. They were crawling out of their skin to get their hands on one of these new books. The best part was when I told them who the books came from; they went silent. And if you knew my kids you’d know how unusual that is!! The first utterance to break the silence was, “Can we make her a special Thank You card?” You bet we can. Then I heard that magical sound. That special once in a book’s lifetime sound. The sound of a new book (many new books) being broken open. This was made even better because it was by the hands of happy children. And it was clear that the kids heard and noticed it too. Then a few of them did what some of us do, they smelled the books; and contently smiled.
As I read aloud from a few of the chapter books just to wet the kids’ whistles, they sat contently and listened, and protested when I stopped. Then they took turns requesting the book they each wanted to read. And for the next thirty minutes they all sat and read. And then complained when the thirty minutes was over.
That was a first.
A few weeks ago I cleaned out our classroom library. Spring cleaning clean. I cut our library down by almost half. I had wanted to do that for a while but was nervous about it. It almost felt sacrilegious. But I rationalized that the books were going home with kids who needed books and it would open up space for new books. We needed new books. As I watched their reaction to the new books I brought into the room I realized that I was absolutely right. Right to clean out the old and make room for the new. The kids are now eagerly reading when one week ago they moaned about silent reading. They are actively discussing the books they are reading without my even encouraging them. And they are waiting eagerly for their time to read books others are reading. So I think I’m going to refine my notion that “kids + books = love” to “kids + new books = love”.
It’s really all about the new books, the award winning books.
Thank you lovely, generous, author.