Visit Ruth Ayres’s blog to find out what others are celebrating.
This week, I’m celebrating the reading community and #booklove I see developing in my Children’s Literature class. Tuesday’s class was really exciting to me. I looked around the room and saw that most students had brought a small stack of books with them to class. When I asked if anyone had a title to book talk, many hands shot into the air. And they had wonderful books to share. It was clear that students have been spending more time in the library finding books that they will enjoy reading. I saw students adding recommended titles to their lists and using the Good Reads app on their phones. Many of the books I book-talked were borrowed. And on Thursday, several students had already finished books they borrowed on Tuesday and were asking for more books!
I’ve taught this course many times before, but this is the first time I’ve ever made building a reading community and growing #booklove as my main goals. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be to achieve these goals. Many of the students haven’t enjoyed reading previously, so they have some negative reading experiences to overcome. Most have full course loads and jobs. A couple have children. They have many assignments due in their other courses, and “go read for a few hours each week” is an assignment that’s easy to postpone indefinitely, especially when you don’t like to read in the first place and have no idea how to find good books. The class only meets twice a week for an hour and fifteen minutes, so we miss the daily time to read, confer, and share together that elementary, middle, and high school teachers have with their students. It is hard for me to get to know students I only see for 2.5 hours a week well enough to make good recommendations for them. It is also impossible to have enough time in class to confer with students and help them grow individually as readers. And of course we have no classroom library, though I do my best to create a different library for each class by bringing dozens of books with me and displaying them on the whiteboard and window sill.
But this week, our class felt like a real reading community. I still have so many things I want to do with this class and very few weeks left in the semester. But I am going to make sure we have plenty of time during each class to look at books, read, and talk, because those are the keys to community and #booklove.