Radio is the theater of the mind.
My husband and I spend time each winter in Hatteras, a tiny fishing village on a spit of sand 70 miles from the nearest movie theater (and even farther away from a Starbucks or big box store). In the winter, it’s only a few visitors and the 502 residents who live here year-round. The ice cream and clam shops are closed up, and you can walk a mile on the beach and not see another soul.
We love the beaches, the fishermen at work, and the feel of a town at the end of the earth that time almost forgot. But one of the things we love the most is Radio Hatteras. It’s a community-owned radio station that is staffed fully by volunteers. We listen to it whenever we are out and about. We never know what we’re going to hear, but it’s surprising how good the music is, in genres and artists we wouldn’t normally listen to — golden oldies, obscure songs from well-known groups, and loads of rockabilly, blues, and beach music. My husband and I scramble to remember who the artist is, or wax nostalgic about memories evoked by a particular song.
Radio Hatteras is a reminder to me about the limits of choice. It is good for a few weeks of the year to put away my carefully curated playlists for walking and working and cleaning and just turn on the radio. Sure, I can listen to my collections and know I will like what I hear. I’ll be getting exactly what I want at the moment — comfort food for my ears. But where is the growth in that? Radio Hatteras makes me wistful for a time when I was a teen and everyone listened to the radio, because that was the place where you’d hear the latest from your favorite musician, or even come upon a new artist to love.
In classrooms, allowing students to read the books they love and choose themselves is probably the most important thing in helping children become lifelong readers. But reading texts together as part of daily routines — through read-alouds, “one book” community projects, and classics every teen reads once with classmates — is essential for building a community too. Hearing or reading the same text with others, especially one you’d never pick on your own, expands horizons for what’s next in your reading life in a way free choice never could. Sometimes you pick the book. With texts someone else has selected, it’s a surprise and wonder to have a text pick you, and share that delight immediately with the community of readers around you.
This week we look at new books, budgets, and weeding libraries. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Gigi McAllister reorganizes her classroom library checkout system, and finds that a little up-front investment in time pays big dividends all year long:
Christy Rush-Levine finds that a community of new teachers bonds over a text highlighting addiction struggles. The experience leads her to think through what elements are essential for whole-class texts in her middle school classroom:
Katherine Sokolowski explains why it is important to sort and weed out books carefully at the end of the year:
Should you ditch a whole-class novel? A parent who is also a teacher reflects on her child’s negative experience with whole-class novels and considers alternatives:
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There are scores of new children’s books that continually tempt teachers. But how do you stock your classroom library with a limited budget? Shari Frost shares proven strategies:
Bitsy Parks has a simple seven-step process for a hard day’s work of weeding out her first-grade classroom library:
Katherine Sokolowski had a dream — her whole community reading and celebrating the same book. She explains how she helped coordinate, organize, and purchase hundreds of books for a community-wide reading of Wonder:
In this week’s video, Katherine Sokolowski demonstrates her book talk skills when she presents The Last Fifth Grade to her students late in the school year:
In an encore video, Christy Rush-Levine explains her formula for successful book talks in middle school that grab students’ attention. We’ve also included a sample book talk:
That’s all for this week!