Posts tagged Books
Posts tagged Books
There is something quite fulfilling about finishing a book and either thinking or saying out loud, “Now that was a great book!” I finished the book The Marble Queen by Stephanie J Blake today. I started this young adult chapter book shortly after lunch on this snowy spring break day and finished right before dinner. It was a great book and I couldn’t wait to tell my wife - who bought the book. I have had the same feeling after reading Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck, Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Katie DiCamillo to name just a few. I love the feeling I have when I finish a good book. The former fifth grade teacher in me thinks immediately of the possibilities. I also love that I can easily recommend the book I just read to students. They also offer me suggestions as well.
There are many perks to being an educator. One of them is that my reading circle includes a wide variety of children’s literature. I simply love this. My next quest is Mockingbird by Kathryne Erskine. I have heard it’s a good book from several adults and joyfully by a fifth grader as well. I try to balance my reading cycle with professional, children, and personal reads. I also enjoy non-fiction audiotext in the car to and from school. But there are simply few feelings in the world similar to the one I have when I close a good book after reading the final few words and can say, “Now that was a great book!”
I like my Nook. I was intrigued by it the first time I saw the device, and was blessed to receive a Nook pretty early in its life as a birthday gift. I have since graduated to a Nook Color and see the horizon laced with tablets which offer both the ease of E-Books and the extras that allow for greater use and application.
I like my Nook because everywhere I go I have several of my favorite books. I also enjoy the ease in which I can take notes and highlight. I can then scroll through my notes and find the key points so much easier than having to turn every page. I like my Nook because it is bright and shiny. Most of the books I read are black and white pages, but I have found great joy in my very inexpensive subscription to Reader’s Digest - the pages even turn like I was reading the book myself. I also will occasionally purchase an ESPN The Magazine and be drawn in by the bright colors and the vivid images. I find a certain comfort in my Nook. It serves a purpose.
But I also like books. My house is filled with them. Most of them deal with education. Being married to a teacher who is committed to her craft helps that too. But I like books. As much as I love my Nook, I can never imagine grabbing a group of students and reading them an E-Picture Book. For some situations this book projected on a white board could serve a purpose, but there is an intimacy to my reading and sharing that comes from turning the page, the way you hold the book, the way you close it to make a point, and the fact that children want to reach up and touch the pages. That’s the power of a book.
I like bookstores and libraries too. I am pulling for Barnes and Noble because quite honestly, they offer a comfortable space. In some ways, they are a giant coffee shop which happens to share its space with a several dozen book shelves and a few thousand titles. It’s a unique space. It’s comfortable and I like it. I have gone to Barnes and Noble with my Nook and sat in a big comfy chair and read. It’s just nice. Sometimes when you’re getting your tires rotated, or your family is shopping, you need a place to sit and just have some introverted time. Book stores allow that. Libraries are wonderful spots as well. Every time I go, I say to myself, “You need to go back more frequently.” The librarians are so knowledgeable and the space is so comfortable. It’s a gather place of sorts but it’s also a treasure.
People are picky about their books. Our family has invested thousands of dollars in books. Some books are the type that can be shared willingly. Others, not so much. I have always felt the biggest compliment anyone can ever give me; or for that matter I can give them is to say, “Here, I think you will like this book.”
That’s the problem with E-Books. You can’t do that. I know, I know - it’s about business. But most times the simple art of sharing does one thing - it cultivates purchasing of the book down the road of life. Take for example the wonderful story, The Help. I was given this book by a dear friend to read who had borrowed it from another friend. I was told to return it to the original owner, a mutual friend, when I was finished. I did. It then created a situation where my wife and my stepson wound up purchasing the book because I had read it and raved about it. My wife loved it too and others have followed her advice and purchased it too. I don’t see that happening with E-Books because you can’t share. It’s almost like the publishing companies forgot that their greatest asset is word of mouth. I don’t care if you limit the shares to 2 or 3 - but allow sharing. It creates common ground and it creates a culture of reading and for heaven sakes, we teach sharing in kindergarten.
I see devices like Nooks or iPads slowly taking over at school. It just makes sense. It is more efficient, it is less expensive, and the amount of environmental impact for paper, etc. will be limited. Plus, it is very manageable for young bodies to take to and from. However, when I go to purchase a book, I still in my head stop and ask myself, “E-Book or Not?” Sometimes I go with the E-Book. Sometimes Not.
One of my mentors and I have a revolving lunch date about once a month. When we get together, the first thing we do is to hand each other reading material. I don’t know how it started, but I know that when I am going to see him, I need to try to remember to bring him something. He always talks about the ‘Smart’ books that I bring him, but I also find great joy in bringing him human interest stories like A Good Walk Spoiled or A Walk in the Woods. Because in my revolving door of reading materials, I try to balance ‘smart’, with fun, and with children’s.
I guess when it’s all said and done, the good thing about both printed and electronic text is that reading is being promoted. There is such wonderful reading material out there now for children - I am a big envious. Not because I would have read it as a child - because I wasn’t so into reading then, but because so many of my classmates and family were. But on the flip side some of the treasures from my youth like Bread and Jam for Frances, The Biggest Bear, Blueberries for Sal, and Matt’s Mitt are not mainstays in today’s culture but need to be. They are wonderful!
So if I ever walk up to you and hand you a book and say, “I think you will like this book”, realize two things: 1. I purchased the book with the idea that I would share it and 2. It’s one of the highest compliments I can offer you.
I have started a new collaboration with my students. They are recommending books for me to read and I am kind of getting into it. This collaboration began with Isaac told me, “I read the Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan and it changed my life as a reader forever. Interesting. I had to read a book that would change a fifth grader’s life as a reader forever. So, I said, “Go check it out of the library in my name.” Little did I know that it was 500+ pages. But it was interesting. It taught a lot about Egyptian mythology. Even though I am not particularly a cat person, I enjoyed Bast, the Goddess of Cats the best. This genre is not my favorite, but the book held my interest and I did become exposed to several Egyptian Gods and Goddesses along the way. What was the coolest was the dialogue with Isaac: “Mr. Pinto, how far are you in the book?” “Do you like it?” “Isaac, I’m at this point in the book. This character is kind of creepy.” Riordan has written several more books. My goal is not to read the entire series, but to get a flavor. These students would not have been exposed to this information most likely had it not been for the book.
Next, it was Drew’s turn. He recommended The Lightning Thief again by Rick Riordan. This is the first in the Percy Jackson series and deals with Greek Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not my favorite genre, but I have enjoyed the dialogue. What I am amazed with has been how engrossed the students are in the characters and how much they know plot lines. Drew was no different. He seemed genuinely excited by my progress through the book. He also was a walking encyclopedia of Greek Mythology knowledge. Fascinating to me. I finished this book and again enjoyed my time with the book and with Drew.
Next, 39 Clues by Rick Riordan, was the referral by Josh. Are you noticing a theme? Lots of Rick Riordan. This time, the book I read took me with the characters to Russia where I learned about Rasputin and some Russian history. Josh again asked me for my progress and again filled in some clues along the way. I finished this book this morning.
Carson gets a crack at me next; then Evan; then Sarah. I am hoping that a non-Rick Riordan book appears at some point. But I have some great take-aways from these books. First, I read only the books I have not read before. So if someone suggests a book that I have read, I said, “Nope, give me another book or another series.” This I hope branches student thinking, but also forces me to read something new and different. Second, students try to find books that I might like but I also get a feel about what interests them. And, it keeps me present and up with what is popular and what is hot in the world of my elementary readers. Also, it has increased my dialogue with students on an academic front in a way similar to how I would converse with an adult who I offer a book and say, “I think you will enjoy this book.” Finally, this interaction has opened another gate. I am now referring books to students to read. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is making its rounds through the fourth and fifth grade. My question, “Do you like it better than Hugo Cabret? If so, why?”
I have always said that one of the highest compliment I can offer someone is to offer them a book and say, “I think you will like this.” It is nice to have this interaction with students. I have learned a lot. And, it is interesting that the books I have read so far are teaching students a lot without them even realizing it.