These past two weeks, I’ve noticed very unique moments taking place in our classroom. To be honest, they’ve been occurring all year, but I’ve really just begun to really appreciate these moments as un-ordinary moments. Most of these moments happened during or immediately following a read aloud. Let me tell you what I mean…
Upon returning from Anderson’s Children’s Literature breakfast this past weekend, I shared a new book I got signed by Laurie Keller, Arnie The Doughnut. We laughed our way through the book as we read little comments Laurie inserted to the various characters throughout the book.I don’t know really what made this read aloud so special, but it was truly a “moment”
Another new book I shared was Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin. There are so many good takeaways from this book, but I decided I was just going to read it and see where discussion lead without any probing. It leant itself to wonderful book conversations, and many connections to other books I had not even made. It was conversation that would have never taken place had we not shared this book together.
Today I shared What’s Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle and friends. I told students to watch and see if they recognized any artwork before reading the names. They loved Eric Carle’s story about his cat and a string bean. When we came to Mo Willems’ page, they all screamed, “MO WILLEMS!” We’ve really been reading Mo Willems books and celebrating him this month, so this was an instant connection. They also instantly recognized the Steven Kellogg page, because Steven Kellogg visited our school in November, and his artwork immediately caught their attention. Instances like these showed me that it’s not enough to simply read authors’ works to our classes- we must make connections with the authors. Students appreciate authors’ works better if they know more about the author. While I know this is impossible to do with every book, it is possible to connect them with at least some authors over the course of the year. We study a different author every month in my room, and celebrate his or her books all month.
I also found out the reveal of the cover and publication date of Judy Schachner’s new book, Skippyjon Jones: Snow What . Again, many cheers upon hearing the news, followed by speculations of what this exciting new adventure might be about. “It’s going to be wonderful!” someone said. Yes! Of course it’s going to be wonderful. Judy Schachner wrote it!
What makes these moments so unique is that they are so rich- the conversation has depth; it is not shallow. I see excitement I don’t see many other places. If there is one time I want rich conversation and excitement from deep down in the heart, it is during reading.
Randomly, my students were talking about what life would be like without me in second grade. I assured them that life does go on after first grade, and there are many other teachers waiting to teach them other new things. Someone remarked, “Well, we’ll always remember him by the books he read.”
I am okay with that. I am more than okay with that. I hope they think of books when they think of me. I hope they think of books when they don’t think of me. I want books to be on their hearts and minds no matter where they are.
And it’s moments like the ones we shared this week that lead them to developing such a heart and such a mind.