Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.
In her forthcoming book, The Hired Girl, Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz’s main character and narrator, Joan, describes her first day of school. She was particularly nervous about starting school because her brothers did not like school and were often in trouble. But the day proved magical when the teacher took Joan and the other new students outside to sit under a tree as she read aloud to them. Miss Lang read the young students “Thumbelina” from a collection of stories by Hans Christian Anderson. Joan’s retelling of the experience–which includes an emotional relaying of the ups and downs of Thumbelina’s adventures–captures the way great stories, particularly when read aloud, engage us in powerful ways. Joan wraps up her description of that first read aloud experience with Miss Lang:
Oh, that story! I never, never could have thought of anything so beautiful. When it was over–I couldn’t help myself–I forgot to raise my hand, and I cried out, “Oh, please, teacher, read it over, read it over!”
Then I was aghast because I had called out, and I thought Miss Lang would punish me. But she gave me a lovely smile and said, “When you learn to read, you will be able to read the story all by yourself.”
I became a scholar that day. (p. 32)
We think, talk, and write a lot about joy — how to bring more into our personal lives and into classrooms. Joy is a tenet around which we try to frame all our work. We hope as summer begins you are celebrating your final moments with students. As you plan for the coming year, save room for joyous and powerful experiences with stories–perhaps even under a tree–as you read aloud from books. Show students the promise that is theirs on the other side of the words: as they become better and better readers, such wondrous experiences will be at their constant disposal. One day they may speak of a story you read and say, “It was then that I became a scholar.”
This week we explore book clubs and other reading conversations in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris
Contributors, Choice Literacy
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris blog at Burkins and Yaris — Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy, where their instructional resources have drawn a national audience. Their new book, Reading Wellness, is available through Stenhouse Publishers.
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Karen Terlecky combines teaching kindness, building community, and developing reading skills in Do They Care? Empathy Book Clubs:
Megan Skogstad from the Nerdy Book Club shares the Top Ten Reasons for Starting a Staff Book Club:
In Learning is Social, Mary Lee Hahn describes different types of groups (from focus groups to partners) and how she explains them to students:
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Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris are rethinking questions used in one-on-one reading conferences:
Melanie Meehan finds read aloud is a great time for Provoking Young Readers to connect opinions and experiences:
This week’s video is a getting to know you reading conference from early in the school year. As she confers with first grader Kendall, Deb Gaby skillfully weaves questions about home and reading together:
That’s all for this week!