You’re a reader; you know the feelings a book can evoke within us. Most often, they are feelings we did not even know a book could elicit. You’ve marveled at the way a character handled a situation, and shuddered at the way a character was treated. You have imposed your thoughts onto a character, and vowed to handle it differently if it were you. Because of the strong feelings that a book can create, you encourage students to find a book that they love. It is that desire that implores us to have our children experience the feelings that books can evoke; the thrill that can be replicated and hook the most reluctant reader. We want to Open a World of Possible for every child.
It is with this hope in my heart that I carry a book around the building - especially in the cafeteria.
“What are you reading Dr. Outlaw?”
“One for the Murphys. I’m near the end and the main character is in a foster home because her stepfather beat her, and her mom is in the hospital because he beat her too. The family that she's with is really good to her, and now she has to decide if she's going to stay with the family or go home with her mother.”
“Oh, wow. I read Wonder. It was good.”
“I read that one, too! It was good. Well if you liked that one, you’ll really enjoy Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. In that book, the main character Ally gets into a lot of trouble. When a substitute teacher arrives, she is back at it again, but this time, something is a little different. This teacher helps her to see that the way things are, does not dictate the way things have to be. If you want to read it, stop by my office. I'll have a copy waiting for you.”
He didn't move. He gave a noncommittal, “Okay.” My mind began racing - I had pushed too hard. I had embarrassed him in front of his friends. He’ll never come take out that book.
But... he did!
Before the end of the period, he was there. He was in my office asking to borrow the book. My heart leaped with joy; Yes! The smile on my face matched the glee that filled within me.
But then - my mind began racing again. He’ll never read it. Watch, he won’t even mention it again. My mind filled with thoughts of disappointment. I would never hear from him again.
But... I did!
Before the end of the day, his math teacher approached me with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. She said, “You are not going to believe this!” My response was half-hearted; I wasn’t sure what to expect. She then related her encounter with the student while he was organizing his binder. She beamed with joy as she relayed the story. He had asked if he could keep reading his book. He told her that he was in the second chapter, and was really liking the book. When permission was given, he opened the book, and read for the remainder of the period. When I saw him the next morning, he told me that he really liked the book. He quietly smiled from ear to ear and told me that he was up to the part where she gave the sympathy card. His excitement filled me with glee again.
One book, two buckets filled.
Something so small made such a huge impact. You see - I walk around with a book in my hand, especially in the cafeteria. When I walk around with my book, I position my hand, and the book, just so - allowing the title of the book to be visible for all to see. As I walk around, I open the book, read a little, and then continue to circulate among the students. I realized that the book that I held in my hand was a sign to students that the book must be worth a read. I did not realize the power I had when I blessed a book. Tech Crazy Teacher offers a myriad of suggestions you can use to Bless the Book children can read.
By walking around the cafeteria with a book in hand and talking with students about what I'm reading and what they're reading, a difference has been made in both of our lives. I’m elated to see another at-risk youth, who only picked up a book when he had to, really enjoy a book. This book wasn't assigned to him. He had a choice, and he chose to take a chance. Now he's seeking the next book recommendation from me, and I'm more than happy to oblige.
As for his bucket being filled, he's entered a world of possible. He has now seen that books offer more than just worksheets and labored projects that relate to the book. He's now interested in finding another book that he’ll enjoy. This could mean that he will know that he's a reader too! The statistics are astounding. An at-risk reader has fewer minutes reading than his/her counterpart. The research shows that if we bless a book, students are more likely to spend time reading. The research shows that the best intervention is a good book.
One action by a teacher, or an administrator, can change a child’s world. Here are a few suggestions for filling someone’s bucket with a book:
- Stand by your classroom door during passing with the book that you’re reading. Hold the book’s cover so that the students can read it.
- When walking to get your lunch, carry the book that you’re reading. Let students see you walking with it close to your chest.
- Provide a popular book to your administrator. Share a brief summary, if it is one he/she has not read. Then ask the administrator to walk around with the book as he/she visits classrooms and walks around the cafeteria.
- Share a few book titles that you know are popular with the administrator, or have a few book titles in mind, that can be recommended to students.
Open A World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and the Power of Reading 2014
RTI: The Best Intervention is a Good Book Lois Bridges, Ph.D.
Bless the Books. Tech Crazy Teacher June, 2016