Friday, December 16, 2011


One more day and then winter break. Like many schools, we no longer have holiday parties. Today we are having a read-a-thon. I'm bringing in all my holiday books and we'll spend the morning sharing poetry and books and snacks and friendship.

I hope that we will have a blast. My students don't have much in the way of material things. Yesterday one of my little gals told me Santa is coming to her house on January 15th because he has to buy her mom a "new" car this month. Most of my kids get stuff like shoes and coats. Some won't have Christmas at all.

More than anything, I want my students to know the power of books. I want them to understand, in a deep and life changing way, that books are a place of deep joy, a way of understanding your own life and the lives of others, a ticket to unknown worlds, and maybe a ticket to college. I want them to know that books and poems and words bring a richness that money can't buy.

This week, as I was reading and rereading some of the CYBILS poetry nominees, I found a poem that captures what I want for my students. "Who's Rich?" by Naomi Shihab Nye is one of thirteen poems in Lee Bennett Hopkins, I AM THE BOOK. Lots of terrific reading-related poems in this book-- couldn't decide today, whether to use "Poem" by Jane Yolen, or "When I Read" by Beverly McLoughland. Also thought about "I Am the Book" by Tom Robert Shields, or "What Was That?" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Karla Kuskin's "Wonder Through the Pages," or "Book" by Poem Farm (and Poetry Friday's) Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. All of the poems in this book are just plain lovely.

"Who's Rich?"
Naomi Shihab Nye

Who's rich?
The boy with a book he hasn't read yet
The girl with a tower of books by her bed.
She opens and opens and opens.
Her life starts everywhere.

Who's rich?
Anyone befriended again and again
by a well-loved book.

This is a wealth
we never lose.

Poetry Friday is at Kate Coombs' BOOK AUNT.


GatheringBooks said...

For a bibliophile such as myself, your writing has just moved me in so many levels. I feel blessed getting to know so many fabulous, dedicated, kind-hearted teachers through Poetry Friday. The things that you do change the lives of your students who undoubtedly adore you. I'd prefer poetry reading over a loud boisterous party any time of the day. Food for the soul.

Plante-Fitch said...

Any anthology edited by Lee Bennet Hopkins is wondrous wise. A poem in the arrangement. And Yayo ---well I'm biased there --- but as an artist / interpreter of poets --he's one of the the best.

Linda B said...

I bought this book this fall & have enjoyed it so much. What a wonderful gift you are giving your students, wrapped up in your enthusiasm I imagine you share each day about books! You might like The Table Where Rich People Sit, by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall. It has a similar flavor to the poem by Naomi Nye. Happy vacation!

Sue Cowing said...

A Readathon? Sounds like a party to me! Thanks for the Naomi Shihab Nye poem, and hello! to her if she's looking in.

Tabatha said...

Wonderful poem! I have talked to my kids about the many things you can be rich or poor in -- things like common sense, for instance.

Thanks so much for sharing this poem and for giving us a glimpse into your classroom.

Laura Lynn Benson said...

Book blessings and infinite love to you, treasured friend...Time for shared celebrations xoxox

Mary Lee said...

I LOVE the idea of a read-athon! We still have a scaled-down version of a "winter" party -- 1/2 hour with a snack. I will teach my students to cut for-real six-sided snowflakes, and we will make a blizzard in our classroom. Pretty sure it will take more than one half hour, but just try to stop a kid once they have experienced the magic of unfolding a newly cut, like-no-other flake!

Carol said...

We went for 2.5 hours (we get out early on Fridays and that's all the time we had) and I think the kids really did have fun. Started by finishing our read aloud of Hugo Cabret- I am meeting the kids at the theater to see the movie today. After that the kids had the choice of reading alone or in groups of two or three. I brought in a huge bin of holiday books and they read and read and read. When they got tired of reading, I pulled them back together and we did "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (and yes, all of my students actually do celebrate Christmas, probably the first time in many years), then they either went back to reading or made a Christmas card for someone they love. At the end, several kids asked if that was all the time they got. They want to try a write-a-thon next!

laurasalas said...

Carol, your post made me tear up. Love your dedication. I AM THE BOOK is a terrific anthology, sure to touch reader's hearts and make book lovers of them if they aren't already!