My kids had a sub in library this week. The books they were proudly parading on their way out of the library gave it away. About a third of them had checked out chapter books, and their faces exuded such pride and joy as they made sure I noticed each book. (This wouldn't have been the case if our librarian had been around, which I can understand why.) This was followed by miscellaneous chapter books appearing from home as well. For the rest of the week, those books became like pets. The kids took them everywhere and even clung to them in situations when they should have been doing something else. When not within their grasps, the books were often found sitting in a place of honor on tops of name tags but picked up at every possible moment. If for some reason they were in a backpack or cubby, they didn't remain there long. "Can I go get my library book?" The kids wanted them close. I often found the readers tucked away in corners, sitting on pillows, laying under tables with their noses in those books, because that's what we do if a task is finished early. We don't do activities saved for early finishers. We read.
Wouldn't it be cool if my kids were actually reading and fully comprehending those chapter books? I'm no fool. I knew fully well the majority of them weren't able to handle the complexity of the texts they were cherishing. I believe that lots of easy reading makes reading easy and repeated exposure to difficult texts makes for frustration. That's why during our daily Read to Self time, the chapter books were left abandoned on name tags while the kids read books from their baskets. Yet, I felt like the barrage of chapter books this week was worth rejoicing about. Especially at the beginning of the year when I highlight habits of readers, I repeatedly say, "Readers read every day they need to breathe." I say it so much, my kids can finish the thought for me. These chapter books were a small token of proof that my kids are catching on to how readers think and act and a reminder of how much more deliberate and purposeful I need to be about teaching them that readers simply cannot live without their books. They're up there with eating, sleeping, and breathing.