The best part about being back in school is the 20 minutes of sacred independent reading time. When students come into class, either virtually or in person, they are expected to settle into reading. Pre-Covid, students would be scattered about the room, some at desks, some sprawled on the floor and pillows, others tucked into little crevices in the room, reading. Now students must remain at their desks lined in neat rows, spaced six-feet apart. I am pleasantly surprised by how easily students have settled into this new routine.
By the time the bell chimes, books are open, and students are reading, browsing the bookshelves or requesting a curated book pile. This twenty minutes offers me time to work with a few students who are looking for new books.
Book buzz is beginning to infiltrate the classroom.
One student, who has not read anything this year and probably didn’t read a single book last year, said she likes books with intense subject matter. I gave her a pile of books with edgy plots that would hook her immediately. She ended up selecting the only memoir in the stack, A Child Called It, an intense true story about surviving an abusive mother.
Another student, who is a voracious reader, asked if she could take several books home over spring break. YES! I encouraged her to take home as many books as she could fit into her backpack–she left with five novels..
One boy in my 6th period recently checked-out and finished Flamer. Today, he quietly recommended it to his friend, also in the class. The friend raised his hand to ask if he could check-out Flamer? YES!
Finally, a student who struggles to find engaging books, selected Female of the Species from the pile I book-talked at her desk. The heart-pounding novel is driven by a strong female character who seeks revenge for the murder of her sister. “I’m only a few pages in, but I like how this author writes,” YES!
There isn’t much I love about teaching in this new concurrent environment, but connecting kids to books and watching them fall in love with reading again is the gift I’ll hold onto until June.