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24 June 2015 @ 09:04 am
Some Common (not Core) Sense, please  
An educator posted a question to Facebook asking if anyone had taught a particular book to 5th-7th graders and if it would be appropriate. It was the straw that broke this reader's back yesterday. It is one thing to ask for some suggestions for titles to check out for your class. It is something entirely different to ask someone else if a book would be appropriate to teach without ever reading even a synopsis or review of the book.

When did this become acceptable? When did anyone decide to teach materials they had not read? I have seen some say that they want to experience the book as the students do: fresh eyes and all that. No, no, no, no, no. Before a book is added to any reading list or presentation or book talk, I. READ. IT. FIRST. Often, I read it more than once. I don't care if the book won every award under the sun; I need to read it as well. How does the book meet the needs of MY readers? How does it fit into other books and materials I will share or have shared? Is this a book my kids can ACCESS? Is it a book that will engage them? Is it a book that is worthy of some scrutiny if it is one I will tie to a lesson? Are there some other options I might offer students?

I could go on with the questions I seek to answer when I am considering a book. The bottom line is this: READ. THE. BOOK. Now that summer is here, carve out time every day to read. Find those books you might want to add. Read them. In the time it took for me to get a pedicure and have my hair colored yesterday, I read a book, an entire book. It does not take long to pick up a book and read it through to see if it is one to add to your collection. READ. THE. BOOK.

As I write this post, I am already piling up the books I will carry with me at the end of this week as I fly to Boothbay for the Heinemann Institute with Kylene Beers and Bob Probst. I will need at least 3 for the flights up. Then, I will need one for each day of the institute and another 3 or so for the flights back home. I will have some audio and eBooks along just in case of emergency. Think about always having a book at hand as you travel, as you indulge i a pedicure, as you dye your hair hot pink. READ. THE. BOOK.

Don't ask someone else to select a book for you to use. Read. Read widely. Read some more. READ. THE. BOOK.
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