As a teacher librarian I'm constantly seeking out new offerings for my students and as a member of a state book award committee, I have committed to reading what is on our consideration list. So other than my yearly re-read of Pride and Prejudice, or the odd re-reading of another favorite, I find that I don't have time to re-read books. I also tend to discourage my students from re-reading books. I have a variety of reasons I do this: a) they want to re-read because it's easier and I want them to challenge themselves as readers, b) they want to re-read because they know they will like a book and I want them to find others they'll enjoy, c) I suspect they're taking the easy way out for assignments. All rational, considered reasons. There is a world of amazing literature out there for middle grade readers and I want my students to experience what it has to offer.
However, this summer I've had a bit of an epiphany about re-reading books. I've had a few stressful situations crop up, as is wont to happen in real life, and although I have shelves of shiny new books with creative titles and fabulous covers, there are some days I don't want to read them.
What I want is the macaroni and cheese of my bookshelf - something comfortable and familiar, something that doesn't require me to stretch when I'm already stretched, something that won't rock my world when it is already a bit off kilter, something that will quiet my noisy mind and heart, and... make me laugh.
Perhaps my students are looking for something in the same vein, something that will take them away from whatever is troubling them and allow them to live somewhere else for a bit. This August, when we go back to school, I will still encourage my readers to try something new, but will also not discourage them from reaching for the familiar.
On warm, sunny days, this is the view from where I read.
My next thought was: I wonder if putting kids in surroundings like this would make reading more enjoyable to them?
As a librarian in a school setting, I work with all of our children. Some of them love to read, others tolerate it, and some actively dislike it. I know that there are many things that factor into this - reading ability, finding a book of interest, appearing "cool" to peers are just a few. But could part of this be the environment?
When I read, most often I find a quiet, comfortable space to slouch into with my feet up and a cup of coffee or tea by my side. Creature comfort = pleasant reading time.
After check out in my media center, if they're lucky, students can snag one of the spots on my middle-aged (ca. 1974) couches or a padded bench; otherwise they sit at tables, completely upright in wooden chairs (that they may not tip back). Not quite the same experience.
Would I help students enjoy reading more if I created a more relaxed environment in which they could read?
Budget and physical space constraints hinder my creating anything too extravagant, but working with the means available to me, I think I will try to effect some change. I've been hoarding Scholastic Dollars from my book fairs over the years and have amassed a small nest egg. I've ordered some comfy chairs and pre-ordered some beanbag chairs. My reading space is small, but by making the seating flexible and comfortable I hope that I've begun to create an atmosphere more conducive to reading for enjoyment. Time will tell.
Does anyone have ideas on how to create comfortable, inviting reading spaces within limited means? If so, please share them in the comments.
I've been sitting on my porch the past few days, catching up on some reading I need to do. The porch is shady, peaceful (the breeze through the trees and chirping birds are the main source of sound), and my four-legged reading companion is content to hang out with me all day. I've finished four books thus far. As I got up to go inside to grab the next book, I looked around thought about how conducive this environment is to truly enjoying reading.
I hear that question several times a year. My stock answer is, "No, but I wish I had the time to do that."
As the Media Specialist I recommend books to children and give book talks, but I wonder:
Last year I made a resolution to read 100 books between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. I further resolved to add the titles to my Goodreads list and write one sentence about each book.
Amazingly, I accomplished this goal and Goodreads gave me a visual record to share. I also kept a spreadsheet that recorded the number of pages. During a lesson where I had language arts classes setting reading goals for the year, I shared my reading list. The number of books read got a mild reaction, but when they saw the total of 28,005 pages they were astonished.
This year I'm again recording books and reviews on Goodreads. I've created a chart paper record of titles read, dates completed, and number of pages.
Last week, without comment, I displayed it on an easel in the corner of the library in an act of passive-aggressive librarianship.
I've spotted folks examining it, I've heard conversations among students, teachers, students and teachers about those titles and what books they've been reading.
If you're curious to see for yourself, my online record can be found at Mrs. Porter's Goodreads Shelf.
As a teacher librarian in a 6-8 middle school, when I'm not dreaming up all sorts of tactics to get books into my students' hands, I am seeking new ways to harness technology to help them learn.
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