|Reading Orbiting Jupiter, Gary Schmidt's latest, at a coffee shop. Spent a good bit of energy trying not to cry in public.|
It’s not just about the students.
It takes a village...you know the rest. Probably to cliche and beyond. Well, it takes a village of readers to raise a reading child. So here are some of the books I’ve had conversations about during the last two weeks with adult members of the reading community that surrounds my students outside the walls of their English classroom.
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt—When the superintendent’s secretary returned it to me, she said, “Now I need to read Jane Eyre.” “And then you can read The Eyre Affair,” I reminded her. (It was one of the fun books I recommended to her after she accused me of recommending all excellent quality but emotionally devastating books.) The book never even made it back to my classroom library before I’d passed it off to the art teacher.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio—I passed it on to a 6th grade teacher when I saw the posters his students put up around the middle school about bullying. (I had only gotten around to ordering and reading it a few weeks previously on the recommendation of a 3rd grade teacher, who didn’t currently have her copy because she’d loaned it to a 7th grade teacher.)
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd—A community parent borrowed it from the bookshelf in my classroom and returned it before school one morning this week with a breathless, “This is the best book I’ve ever read!” Which is saying something, as she reads approximately a book a day. I’d given it 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads, so I was curious about her extreme enthusiasm. A big factor was that last year she had read a history book about the Seneca Falls Convention—good, if a bit dry—and then suddenly in this novel she found herself living and breathing the lives of the Grimke sisters who figured in that first women’s rights convention in the US. It drove her back to the history book to re-read the parts about the Grimke sisters.
What I Talk about when I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami—Because I carried it into another meeting and pulled out the Post-it note marking my place in order to jot a note, I had a brief conversation with a math teacher—one Murakami fan to another—about re-reading this memoir just after teaching After Dark.
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich—I ordered and read this book last fall when the author received the Nobel Prize for Literature, then passed it on to a Russian colleague. She recently assured me she was still working on it—the second time through being less traumatic and more interesting than the first.
Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writers’ Workshop by Jeff Anderson—Not forgetting professional books, I passed this one on to the middle school literacy coach this week in response to a query about using mentor sentences. A high school English teacher was standing next to her at the time, and put in a request to be next in line for the book.
So ultimately, I guess, it does come back to the students. What are you doing to contribute to the reading community of adults that surrounds your students?
Now please excuse me….I really have to find a box of tissues and hole away somewhere private to finish the last 10 pages of Orbiting Jupiter….So after I recover I can decide which one of my reading friends and colleagues needs to be the first to get it on Monday. Or whether my students get first dibs.