Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sending Out Thanks to My Book Angels

My district starts up again soon, just two weeks from today. (Not that I'm counting.) That means parents are out buying school supplies, often bemoaning the cost of said supplies on Facebook. I get it, I truly do. With two boys, who are in a sport every flipping season, I know how pricey the start of the year is. I realize that some of the supplies might not make sense to you, you haven't taught 80 kids who will lose every pencil they brought within the first semester of the school year. It doesn't seem logical. So please know I am empathetic to the crazy amount of $$$ that racks up at the start of the year. 

Books waiting for a shelf - thanks to my husband for building two! 
What I don't think most folks realize is that while kids bring some supplies, and the district supplies others, teachers are the third side in this triangle. I'm sure it varies classroom to classroom, but many teachers spend an obscene amount of money on their classroom. Each year at tax time my husband reminds me that my classroom is not a church, there is no need for a 10% tithe on my salary to go there, and yet it does. The biggest part of that budget goes to one area, books. 

I'm a big believer in our classroom libraries. To have a healthy classroom library, there should always be books coming in and books going out. At the end of each school year I weed the library - getting rid of about 2-3 books per student, because I want to give them to the kids. Usually this is around 200 books, more or less. Each year I buy new books, looking to fill holes that reside in the collection. In my new classroom the library amounts to about 2500-3000 books. It's an insane amount, but this is how I get them to read. They are surrounded by books.
New books!
This summer, however, I've had help adding to the library. I've long held to the notion that what we put out comes back to us. I purchased books to give away at my presentations this summer. I've given away books to friends, teachers, relatives. Someone asked if I was crazy, shouldn't I use that money or those books for my room? My only answer was sometimes others needed the books more than me. Well, what I've put out has come back ten fold. My friend Teri sent me a gift card to buy books for my classroom. My friend Donalyn toured a book fair with me, buying books for my new group of kids. Publishers have been generous, sending books my way. I opened up my Facebook message on a rough day last week when I was stressed about my health. Imagine my surprise to see a local business owner, Bridget Peters, offering to buy books for my classroom. A former - and soon to be current - parent, Michelle Butler, sent me a message to ask if I had any books I'd like purchased for this year. (Note, Michelle knew that I have a constantly updating "wish list" that I share with parents. I highly recommend this to all teachers. I've told my parents that if they want to ever donate to the classroom, what we need is books.) All told these folks have contributed over 100 books to my students this summer. Whoa. 
New books waiting to be entered in my system. 
I don't know where to even begin with my gratitude. So I guess I'll keep paying forward the love of reading. I'll keep buying books for my students. I'll keep handing off books to people in my sessions, to friends, to colleagues, to readers. And I'll remember the kindness of my friends, even during hard times. For now, I'll get back to organizing my classroom library. Fourteen days. I'm not ready, but I'm crazy excited to be talking reading and writing with kids once again. Here we go.

***Thanks to all that sent me messages about my last blog post. My mammogram results were terrific and I'm now focusing on the new school year.***