If only it were true that all teachers (and not just reading teachers) would read to kids, read books kids might like, avoid asking kids to perform mindless tasks after reading (what DO kids learn from doing a diorama, anyway, right Donalyn?). If this were to happen, imagine how many more readers we might be supporting and encouraging in our schools.
Someone asked me recently why I read so many books. I think there are some key points here. My initial response is: Why is anyone surprised that someone who loves books as much as I do reads a lot of them? But them I have to pull back and consider what the unspoken questions might be. One might be this: how do I find the time to read so many books? I get that one often enough, and it is a fair question. For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know I ding time in odd moments. Donalyn Miller calls these "edge" moments in READING IN THE WILD. I call them fringe moments. I read a chapter or a poem or a short story or a picture book as I drink my coffee. As I unpack boxes at the office, I try to find time to stop and read a short book. I listen to audio as I drive. I read on planes and trains. I read while waiting for appointments or waiting for my hair to turn the proper shade of pink.
I do think sometimes the implied question is: why do you read THOSE books (and I see a tad of that attitude in the post I am referencing which constantly talks about the classics though it mentions some more contemporary books, too)? That ties us to the quote that opened this blog post. I read books FOR kids. I teach courses ion literature for children and tweens and teens; i serve on selection committees that focus on these books. Reading them seems something I should be doing. But I would read them in any event. I enjoy them. I enjoy them probably more than I enjoy most adult books. I read so few books that are at my level :-)
Back to the quote. I love the idea that racing THOSE books to and for kids is like silence and play and prayer. While your reading might yield different results, I see this triumvirate as books that we read and then simply end and let kids mull them over in their heads (silence), books we read and talk about author craft (play because that is the level I would like the discussion to have rather than sharp focus and rereading and all that CLOSE jazz), and books we reread and perhaps analyze a bit more carefully (prayer) so as to uncover more. I think, of course, there needs to be more silence and play but prayer is an essential too. As I finish this post, we are heading off to church with College Girl. I will meditate more on books as prayer. I am returning to this post again tomorrow to examine another piece.
In the meantime, may your day be filled with fringe/edge times (and maybe longer times as well) and with books that bring silence, play, and prayer.