Saturday, July 12, 2014
Saturday Sayings: Readers Need Readers
My best friend Paige recently finished reading My Story by Elizabeth Smart. Elizabeth is the one, who as a young girl, was kidnapped in the Salt Lake area but was eventually found and returned to her family. Paige admitted that as a mother of a young beautiful daughter, it was a disturbing read that hit her in a sensitive spot. Then she begged me to read it too. "I need someone to talk to," she said with urgency. I admit disturbing reads aren't typically at the top of my list, but readers need readers, so I'll read it with the knowledge that my windows are securely locked. I've a feeling we'll have some interesting conversations about this book in the near future.
In addition to this situation with Paige, I see repeated evidence that readers need readers when I think about my own interactions with books this summer. Books like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Veronica Roth's Divergent series begged to be discussed. It's what real readers do, and if it's what real readers do, it's what young readers do as well, or at least need the opportunity to do. I can't help but reflect on how I foster a community of readers in my classroom.
I'm reminded of an activity I do within the first few weeks of school inspired by Kathy Collins. Each reader brings their favorite book and gets the chance to talk about it with the class before there's free time to simply enjoy these treasures. I take it as an opportunity to verbalize the connections I see between readers in this new community. "Hey Shawn, I noticed that both you and Brodee love books about Star Wars. You should totally get together and have a Star Wars book club. If anyone else in the room loves Star Wars books, I'm sure they'd love to have you too! This is exactly real readers do."
As the year progresses, I know there are a myriad of ways in which I promote a community of readers who need each other, but when I read Donalyn Millers' thoughts, I'm challenged as well. I must continually analyze my own reading life and the ways that I interact with other readers. When I do, I see the lack in my own classroom practice. I can always be more intentional in the ways I consistently and purposefully ensure that my young readers are authentically benefiting from other readers. It's not simply an added bonus of reading. It's a necessity.