Tuesday, February 27, 2018


They don't love to read.
They really don't.
I drag them from the hall into the room.
Lock the door.
Set the timer.
Open my book.
Cast the evil eye.
Point to my own book.
Read a few paragraphs.
Answer the knock on the door.
Watch the eighth grader saunter across the room to drop off his homework.
Go back to my book.
Flinch at yet another noise.
Move to a vantage point across the room.
There is reading going on.
But there is also wiggling,
pencil rolling.

But there are signs of hope.

Baseball crazy D
races into the room
waving Jewell Parker Rhodes'
newest book,
"I only have one more chapter, miss,
only one more."
He finishes.
And then immediately picks up
Kwame Alexander's newest book.
At the end of class
it is sitting out on the desk.
I tell him to put it away before he leaves.
"No miss, I'm taking it home,
I want to read some more tonight."

Sweet, shy M.
New to our school this year.
In September she has a hard time
finding something to read.
I suggest a novel in verse.
She comes back a few days later.
"I like books like this.
Do you have any more?"
She trudges up the stairs after the four day weekend.
"Miss, I finished, DEAR MARTIN.
It was so good.
Did you know it was about racism?
And I started another one."
She stops in the middle of the hall.
Drags the newest book out of her backpack.
"It's really good too," she says.

who is currently leading
the race for most lunchtime detentions
in one month
shouts at me from twenty feet down the hall,
"Miss, miss, miss,"
I turn.
"Did you see my book log?"
I tell him I haven't yet, but I will.
"Last time I was on chapter 8," he says.
"And now I'm all the way to chapter 13."

Perhaps my biggest challenge.
I try all my favorite tricks--
sure hits,
graphic novels,
love stories,
pop star/sports star biographies
much-loved picture books.
Nothing works.
Most days, I consider it a victory
if she just lets the people around her
focus on their books.
But today she spends time
examining the Scholastic book flyer.
Selects two books
fills out the order form.
and spends the $7
allocated by a local book charity
"There, I did it," she says,
pushing the form back at me.
Up to this point I have chosen books for her.
This is the first time she
ever ordered for herself.

I wish I could say I have one of those classes
where everyone loves to read
where kids are falling over each other
to get to the books
That's not happening.
Not yet anyway.
But we are taking baby steps
in that direction.

1 comment:

Ramona said...

Baby steps and signs of hope are fuel for the teacher fire! Keep at it. I l celebrate the small victories with you!