Saturday, February 7, 2015

Celebrate Book Love

When I returned to school this week from my time at ALA Midwinter, I noticed a shift in my classroom community. The struggle I had been experiencing with my 8th graders to motivate them to read independently seemed to be waning. As students wrote about their favorite choices for this year's Caldecott awards, I observed something extraordinary: not only were they talking about books, but they now seemed to be enjoying it. Something I've learned this past week from having students write about their favorite Caldecott pick? No matter what grade you teach, to foster book love, start with copious amounts of picture books!

MS9 book love
I loved the debate the boys in the photo above were having  about what was really happening in Aaron Becker's wordless picture books Journey and Quest. I especially loved that the student who had to explain to me just what the heck was going on in Quest needed me to explain Journey to him. A moment of reciprocity in our little teacher/student dynamic.

The student on the bottom left was very possessive over his Caldecott pick, Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson.

The student on the bottom right is a kid who has been begrudgingly opening books for the past few weeks. He wasn't reading at all at the beginning of the school year and said the only stories he likes are ones that come from TV and movies, not inside the pages of books. He has said in no uncertain terms that he hates books. So usually when he finishes his work in English class, he dawdles. He attempts to use that time chatting with classmates or playing computer games. A reading life? Nonexistent. So I looked over at his computer yesterday and noticed that he had finished his Caldecott essay and was actually engrossed in the pages of a book. He had seen the movie American Sniper and wanted to read the book because he had heard that the book had more of a backstory and so he wanted to know more. Never underestimate the power a movie can have on a kid to read a book. Now I have a place from which I can talk to this kid about a building a reading life.

Yes, indeed. It seems Book Love has finally infiltrated Mrs. Shaum's 8th grade English class. 

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres


  1. I love seeing 8th graders read picture books. It is such a perfect way to get them all to read and think about story and message. Thank you for sharing this, especially the pictures. I teach 2nd grade now, but my heart has always been with 8th graders.

  2. Time to celebrate, indeed, Beth! I love sharing picture books with my students, and see them 'sneakily' picking them up to re-read. Love hearing about that boy who hates books!

  3. What a great idea to have older students read picture books. When I see middle and high schoolers volunteer to clean out children's books they do end up so happy when they see books they loved as kids.

  4. My favorite line in your blog "No matter what grade you teach, to foster book love, start with copious amounts of picture books!" YES!!!

  5. Love! This is some beautiful and celebratory book love! Hurrah for picture books.