Saturday, January 18, 2014


Discover. Play. Build.

Almost every Saturday, I participate in Ruth Ayres "Celebrate This Week!"  Lots celebrate today!

First, it's my oldest son's birthday! Today I celebrate him- his huge heart, his kindness, his perseverance, his courage in the face of huge adversity. I'm sad to not be there to celebrate with him, but his brother made the three hour drive, and I'm hoping they are out having fun. And I've set a goal of texting him 20 times today, to tell him 20 things I love about him.
Besides Zay's birthday, I'm celebrating middle schoolers that are growing into readers. I've worried lots, in the last two years because I just don't see the older kids at my school loving books, the way that I wish they did. I've talked books and talked books and talked books and felt like I was getting nowhere. This week, though, it felt like there were several breakthroughs.

M is one of my favorite kids. A sweet, sweet girl, one of those quiet, sit-in-the-back, always-do-the right-thing kind of kids that often get overlooked. She usually has to wait for quite a while for her ride after school, and we've become friends. While she would do just about anything any adult asked her to do, she is quick to admit that she is not a reader and has no interest in becoming one. Reading is hard for her, and she is currently reading about two years below grade level, probably mostly because she doesn't read much.

I've recommended lots of books, but until this week, I wasn't having much success. Yesterday, M came up to me when I was in her science class. She had a book in her hand. "Look, Miss," she said, "I'm reading. I like scary books. Can you help me find more like this one?"

(I'd love any recommendations anyone might have for scary books for this growing seventh grade reader).
B couldn't wait to show me a Manga novel. "I bet you don't know what these are, Miss!" he said, almost tauntingly.

It just so happens that my oldest son went through a Manga phase when he was in middle school. "I do know what those are," I said. "We have a bunch of those at my house."

B was blown away. "For real?" he said. "Can you bring them? I want to read them."

Finally, I stopped by J's desk. J's very similar to M, a really good kid but so quiet that he often gets over looked. And he's another kid I worry about as reader, mostly because he just doesn't read much. He was totally engrossed in a vampire book by Darren Shan, and told me it was one of a series. "This is #4," he said, "and I've read 1 and 2. I want to read some more, but we don't have them in our library."

I suggested he might try the public library and asked if he had a card. "Are you sure they have those books?" he said.

"Pretty sure," I said. "They seem like a pretty popular series." I didn't have my laptop with me, but I explained the catalogue system, and told him he could put holds on books from anywhere in the city and get them sent to a library close to his house.

J was very impressed. "I'm gonna ask my mom if we can go tomorrow," he said. "I want some more of these. And I think he has another series too."

Today I'm celebrating growing readers, one book, and one relationship at a time…


Michelle Haseltine said...

Scary books? I love Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (with the videos) and 3:15 Things that Go Bump in the Night (short stories also by Patrick Carman. April Henry's book Girl Stolen is great too. Congrats on finally getting to see M turn into a reader.

Happy Birthday to your son! Happy Celebrating!

Ramona said...

Celebrating readers, one book and one relationship at a time! Thanks for sharing these stories. Carol, these students are so lucky to have you in their lives. I love your idea of 20 texts for Zay with 20 things you love about him. I may have to borrow it for a future birthday with my kids.

Mrs. Braithwaite said...

Such great moments to celebrate; not just the way you are connecting your students to books, but also the way you are connecting with them.

elsie said...

What joy for you to discover growing readers! I hope more and more pop up everyday. said...

What great celebration of your readers and your love for your son. Your pride is evident in your post!

Linda B said...

Happy Birthday to your Zay, Carol. I hope he had a terrific day with his brother. Your text idea is terrific, will keep for my grandson! I love your stories about your readers-wonderful! How about The Graveyard Book, Coraline, or any of those (maybe old) Joan Lowery Nixon books? I know these, but was reminded from an old Nerdy Book Club posting. The others seem a little old for your student!

Mary Lee said...

Love the 20 text challenge!

James Preller has a new series. Might be too young for a MS reader. Or you could sell it as Book Candy.

Holly Mueller said...

I love your idea of sending 20 texts to your son. Did he love that?! Thanks for your stories of your reluctant readers starting to come around. I don't know a lot of scary stories, but I thought of Mary Downing Hahn: Continue to get those kids to read!! :-)