I am a middle school ELA teacher. I believe in the power of books. I believe in the benefits of independent reading. I believe in sharing my literacy life with my students.
But do you know how many books I have read this school year?
Yes, I said zero, and I am not proud of that number.
I started working on my Master's in September, so my reading life has come to a standstill. Oh, I am reading, just not books with my students. On Facebook, I commented on this new dilemma I was facing on the Passionate Readers Book Club page.
Donalyn Miller gave me some words of advice, "Our reading lives wax and wane. You are not setting it aside forever." and then posted a link to a Nerdy Book Club she had written titled: Guilt Trip: Accepting My Reading Slump.
In this post, she talks about reading binges and dry spells. She gives such great advice and offers grace for those of us who have had to set aside our reading lives when real life gets in the way. But I felt better when I read her words, "I must remember that my reading life belongs to me. I need to reclaim it for myself or I won’t have much to offer my reading community."
Last Saturday, I reclaimed my reading life. And it felt good.
My public library had just received a copy of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. (Actually the book wasn't even on the shelves yet. The librarian had to go get it from the catalogue department.)
I had recently shown my students an interview with Jason, and they begged me to purchase the book. Because I teach 6th graders, I knew I wanted to read it myself first before I put it in my classroom library.
And I didn't just read it, I devoured it...in about an hour.
And I couldn't wait to share it with my students.
I went to school on Monday with a new spark. I shared this book with other teachers, my assistant principal and anyone else who would listen. I even began to read it aloud in all of my classes. On Tuesday, the day before our Thanksgiving break, we had a reading day. I read Patina, another wonderful book by Jason Reynolds.
I am once again living a literate life.
So no, Donalyn, I haven't set my reading life aside forever. It is back, and on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for its reappearance.