Monday, December 21, 2015

Making a Plan for Reading

I've been a reader most of my life. There are pictures of me reading when I was three, but I have a feeling I just liked holding books. There are many things I know about myself as a reader:

I'm not entirely sure when I learned how to read, but  I know I could in first grade. 
I know that I memorize words, but figuring out new ones is tricky. 
I know that I read extremely fast. 
I know that the beginning of a book is torture for me, I struggle to fall into the world. Once I do, I can't put the book down until I'm done.
I know that I often peek at the end of the book.
I know that I will go through times where I read a ton, and times where I don't read much at all.
I know I read more when I plan ahead.
I know with 100% certainty that I am a better person, a more empathetic person, because I am a reader. 

My fifth graders are just beginning to figure out that they have identities as readers. They are finding favorite genres, authors, and series. They are finding out that I could really care less what they score on a fluency or Maze test, but if they tell me they stayed up past their bedtime to finish a book, I will hug them in celebration. These are things we are learning together. They also know who I am as a reader. I shared with them my plan for reading over break. I explained my logic - how busy I've been, how I need to get through some of the books on my "to read" stack, how I planned to read over break. Then, I asked them to make a plan. What did they think they could read over break? Check out their photos below:

Here's the thing, you might notice some crazy large stacks in those photos. Some had less. My own child had two books because, as he said, there was no need to check out a lot of books from the classroom when our house was "full to bursting" with books. Some kids also held up fingers to indicate books they had at home or had asked for as Christmas gifts - those they weren't checking out, but wanted counted. 

Those crazy large stacks, though? A friend and colleague asked if I was going to really let them check them all out, were they really going to read them? I confided a secret...I don't care. See, when making these stacks, these kids were pumped, so excited to take a photo with BOOKS. 

A crazy thing happened in each of my three classes on Thursday when we made our plans, my room was humming with energy. Kids were grabbing books off shelves. 

It was so far from quiet, there were shouts across the room, "Yes, take the whole series of Lunch Lady. If you don't, you'll wish you did a few days into break." 

Or..."What? You haven't read The Night Gardener or Peter Nimble? You must take those." 

Kids were book talking, pushing books on friends, grabbing some for others, plopping on the floor to read a few picture books before they even began. It was crazy. And wonderful. And I might have just cried a little bit as I sat and watched. 

I am sitting here typing this on day three of my break. I read zip, zilch, nada on day one. I slept. And ate. And watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my family. It was magical. Day two I read four books. Today, so far, five. Almost done with my sixth. Tomorrow, who knows. I need to write, so maybe I won't read. (And watch Fixer Upper.) 

Does this concern me? Not a bit. I know myself as a reader. Books will always be part of who I am. My reading might ebb and flow, but it is ever present, always in the background waiting to come through. The real gift?  Watching my students figure out who they are as readers. Amazing. I can't wait to see what they read and learn over break.