Sunday, March 24, 2019


I had heard about X long before he entered our school in August.

X has autism, but he is pretty high functioning.

X was supposed receive two hours of SpEd support every day, but it would be push in (That's great with me, I'm much more comfortable with co-teaching, than pull out).

X has adapted just fine to my classroom.

Partly, I think, because he has his own unique role.

X is the DOGMAN librarian.

But maybe I need to back up just a little. Our school is part of a philanthropy called Book Trust. With Book Trust, each student gets $7 a month to purchase a book from Scholastic. The kids choose the books. Teachers order them. The kids write their names in them and they become part of their own personal libraries, which they can take home. Some of our students, who have been doing Book Trust since kindergarten, have collections of almost one hundred books that they probably wouldn't have otherwise. Book Trust is a terrific program.

This is X's first year at our school. In September, he examines the Scholastic flier, and find the DOGMAN books.

"I love these," he says. "I'm getting this." And he does.

In October he gets another one. And another in November. And in December. Until finally, now, in March, he has the whole set. And also one in Spanish.

But he hasn't taken them home. Instead he has kept them at school. For awhile, he kept them in his locker, bringing them to class every day. When he reached four, the stack got a little precarious, so I found him a box, which he decorated with freehand DOGMAN sketches. The box won't fit in his locker, so he keeps it in the closet in our classroom. Every day, X comes into class, drags out his box of DOGMAN books, and holds court in the front corner seat in our classroom.

X has become the resident DOGMAN librarian.

He has shared his love of DOGMAN and now everyone else is reading them too. D, an English Language Learner, who has only been in the United States a little over a year. A, the class romance novel reader. S, who recently finished THE LIFE OF PI. M, who has also read everything Alan Gratz has written, and has moved on to other WWII books. Everyone, it seems, is reading DOGMAN.

There is a set procedure for borrowing the books. Whoever happens to be sitting next to X, generally helps arrange the books in a stack, spines facing out on his desk. X really prefers to have them laid out flat, kind of patchwork style, but if he does it that way, he doesn't have any room to work, and they don't  really all fit anymore.

Kids are then allowed to borrow the books. X doesn't make them write their names down, but they do have to return them, and he counts them, at the end of class. We lose books, especially graphic novels, from our classroom on a regular basis, but X's DOGMAN books never go missing. The kids are very careful to return them.

Granted, sometimes things do get a little raucous in that corner. The patrons can be a bit loud and unruly. X not only likes to read the DOGMAN books, he likes to read them aloud, with sound effects. Occasionally, ok, actually every day or two, I have to remind him to read a little more quietly. And piles of books has been known to crash off X's desk and onto a heap on the floor, at which point three or four of his neighbors have to jump up to help pick them up.

I'm ok with all of those things.

Everyone needs a special role in the classroom.

And DOGMAN librarian is the role that belongs to X.


Anonymous said...

I love seeing this glimpse of your classroom. It sounds like you've facilitated a wonderful community around supporting each other and loving books. How great for your student (and, all the students in the class) that he can connect with classmates through books.

Diane Anderson said...

A great story, and well told!

Diane Anderson said...

A great story, and well told!

Heidi said...

This is priceless. How wonderful for X to be included in the classroom in such a positive way. You have created a a warm and supportive classroom community.

Eduardo said...

Your voice in this piece made me feel like I was in your classroom, watching the antics. Great fun and lots of laughs!

Elisabeth Ellington said...

Every classroom needs a Dogman librarian! I love that this series is so beloved.