Friday, March 28, 2014


I pass the signs out at the weekly faculty meeting.

There's a space at the top for the name. Underneath that, it says, "Over Spring Break, I am reading ________________." I want teachers to fill out the posters and hang them in the hall by their classrooms. I want our students to see their teachers as readers. I want us to model the idea that readers have ongoing plans.

I don't have any trouble thinking of titles for my own sign. First,  I'm hoping to finish BOOK THIEF (I have had 75 pages to go since the weekend my mom had her medical issues). I also want to finish Cynthia Lord's newest, HALF A CHANCE, which I started last weekend. And I want to read BEHOLDING BEE, which has been overdue at the library for about two weeks now. Oh, and my book club is meeting on Wednesday, and I am supposed to read Sue Monk Kidd's INVENTION OF WINGS. And I should read TANGERINE, because the 7th graders at school will be reading that book when we get back from spring break. As far as professional reading, I've got Diane Ravitch's REIGN OF ERROR and Chris Lehman and Kate Robert's FALLING IN LOVE WITH CLOSE READING. That's seven books I want to read in the next nine days. I wonder how I will ever find time to clean my house, grade papers, or do my taxes.

I am surprised, then, when most of the people on my staff have trouble thinking of something they will read. In fact, less than half the teachers on my staff plan to read a book over Spring Vacation. Two are new moms and wonder whether they can count the board books they will read to their little ones. Several others mention newspapers or magazines. A few more say they might read a professional book or article.They fill out the posters half-heartedly. And only half actually get hung up, even after I put out an email thanking people for hanging them.

I leave the meeting feeling more than a little disheartened.

How can we ask kids to read for 20 or 30 minutes a night,  if we don't commit to that same measly twenty minutes ourselves?

How can people recommend books to kids or run a successful readers' workshop if they aren't reading?

And maybe most importantly, how are we ever going to help kids become readers if we don't see the value of reading in our own lives?


Tara said...

Yes, tis is the situation I find myself in , too. And it is disheartening and lonely - but, it is what it is, Carol. You can do your part, and encourage others to follow - but that is all you can do.

Ramona said...

I attended a workshop in another school with signs by teacher's classrooms that proclaimed, Mrs. _ is reading _______. I added one by my door. Unfortunately, it doesn't get changed nearly often enough, but I'm always reading or listening to something. Just finished P.S. Be Eleven last week and I have Sylvia Vardell's new edition of Poetry Aloud Here, Toby's Room (a WWI adult read), and The Ghost of Tupelo Landing all ready for my trip to sunny CA. Spring break is still one week away. Happy reading, Carol!

Linda B said...

Sadly, I hear you, & I don't ask much anymore because I find it true at my school too, Carol. You & I could have quite a talk about books I think! (I'd love to find time to re-read The Book Thief!) What a terrific idea you had-proud of you! I've heard Half A Chance is really good. I want to read Paper Boy, have Seraphina on cd's from the library, & want to read Thrive also, among the picture books. I hope I can do more, but that's probably it. Happy Spring break!

Kyle said...

OK, I panicked when I first read this because I didn't know what I would have written. After rereading Many thoughts rushed into my brain. First, I left the book I am almost done with at school. I brought in on Friday to share with some boys. Second, if kids don't see us as readers they will not be readers. My students laughed and laughed when I showed them a photo of my TBR stack. Finally, I think I have narrowed it down to Goldfinch and Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody.

Unknown said...

I agree and fight this battle with my team all the time. I couldn't wait to get home last night and read a new book I just got, Prince Pugglynof Spudd and the Kingdom of Spiff. It is written in verse and uses creative text throughout. It was so fun. Next up, an ARC of Poached by Stuart Gibbs. That, and along with the 40 some books on my NetGalley shelf, will be my spring break. At least you don't work with teammates that lie about reading to their students.

Judy said...

How lucky your students are that you read. Too many of us say we are too busy grading papers for that. You could be one of those people, but you're not.

Concentrate on that and enjoy your spring break. BTW, you'll love The Book Thief. It's up against The Hunger Games in our March Madness contest. The winner will take on the victor of The Outsiders versus Divergent. Care to bet who'll take it all?

elsie said...

Keep promoting literacy, even when it seems like no one is listening. Maybe one day they will get the bug and take off. I understand the deflated feeling when you mention books and they give blank stares. Why would kids read if their teachers don't see the value? So sad!

Chris said...

I think you really got to the heart of the matter when you mentioned that teachers wanted to know if magazines, board books and newspapers "count." People at our building get defensive when I ask what they are reading. Keep at it!

Michelle said...

Bingo! You said it, but sad that this is true in many, many schools. We can encourage. We can share our excitement. We can share book titles. But we can't make them read. Perhaps we can show them the research? What's Donalyn Miller got to say about it? :) (I might be on to something here...can't deny the research, right?) Love the idea! And good job for trying!

JenniferM said...

So sorry to hear of this discouraging discovery. Sadly, I think the same would be true at my school. Take comfort in the fact that YOU are making a different though... and while everyone may not have hung up their sign or even filled it in, I bet you've given them something to think about!

I keep a "Mrs. M is currently reading..." whiteboard outside my door, and I've gotten comments about it from staff as well as students... spreading little sparks!