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24 July 2016 @ 07:54 am
Recapture  
I love when my brain makes unusual connections. This morning, over the first cup of hotel room coffee, I was capturing a critter on PokemonGo and, in the background, the TV was touting an anti-aging cream called RECAPTURE. This weird juxtaposition sent my thoughts ricocheting in two different directions.

First, the beauty cream ads, the ads that talk about going back to a "better you," all remind me of political slogans that say our past was a better time. Think of a kinder, gentler time or a time when there were two chickens in every pot. Why not go back to that time? I really do not want to go back in time no matter how much I love the memories I have from the past. The fact is that each and every year I have inside me makes me who I am today (for better or for worse). As Sandra Cisneros observes in "Eleven," a short story fro her collection WOMAN HOLLERING CREEK AND OTHER STORIES, the way we grow old is rather like those Russian nesting dolls or like the rings inside a tree trunk. One year builds out to another and another.

The fact is that I continue to grow and develop as an educator each and every year, each and every professional book, each and every new colleague. Last week at the Scholastic reading summit, Dr. Smith used the term "unsuccess" instead of failure. That is more than just word play, folks. That is learning to look at what went awry and try to figure out howe to make it work next time. It is a positive spin, surely, but it also makes my brain work in a different mode. I can build on my "unsuccesses."

How does the PokemonGo fit in? Sometimes, I have had to recapture a critter. It is frustrating. I mean, I had it, and then it escaped. So, I had to lure it back. Is this not what we do with kids? I meet some folks who think all it takes is ONE, and kids are hooked. Not true. How many of you hit reading slumps? Surely, it is not only me. There are days when no book seems to speak to me, where I pick up and abandon book after book. Why should it be any different for kids?

And so I read as many books as I can including professional books. Imagine if I had stopped with LESSONS FROM A CHILD (Calkins) or IN THE MIDDLE (Attwell) and never found WHEN KIDS CAN'T READ, WHAT TEACHERS CAN DO (Beers) or READICIDE (Gallagher) or THE BOOK WHISPERER (Miller) or BOOK LOVE (Kittle) or any of dozens of titles that have informed my teaching and, more importantly, my thinking. What if I stopped after I read 25 or 50 or 100 YA books? I would have missed the hundreds of thousands of other possibilities. If all I read were the award-winning books, I might never have found the books that have become some of my favorites over the years.

So, I will take the toll the years have etched on my face and body. I will use the experiences of the past to help inform what I am doing now. I will remember the books I have read that deserve another generation of readers. But I will also keep working at the recapture--at finding new tools to help build a lifelong love of reading. The work is important.
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