Sunday, September 19, 2021

Bright Spots and a Giveaway

Friday was our twenty-second day of school. Twenty-two school days. Somehow that seems like not enough and too much at the same time. This school year is like no other. Like last year, the pandemic casts a long shadow. Also like last year, there are moments every day of normalcy that take my breath away. But we’re in school for full days, unlike last year. We also have all activities back, unlike last year. We’re masked, vaccines are here, and each day we learn more about a virus that I wish I’d never heard of.

It’s a lot.

However, I’m choosing not to focus on the things I cannot change. I’m also choosing each day to look for bright spots. Do you need some too? Here are a few I can share with you.

My three classes have read a crazy amount of books so far this year. Since our first day of school, August 18th, I’ve read twenty-six books. Out of my sixty-seven students, all have finished a book. Several have finished more books than I have. We’re all over the map in our reading tastes and habits, but several kids have shared how much they’re loving independent reading. 

Some, like a girl in my fourth hour class, showed Alex Gino’s Rick to me and said she’d never connected to a book more. A boy in the same class said he’d never read Riordan’s Lightning Thief, but since I’d gone on and on about it, he decided to give it a try. Now he’s on Sea of Monsters.

Their comments, the messages I get from other readers, make it all worth it.

On Thursday, I shared with my tenth hour class that I typically headed to the grocery store in Savoy after school. I explained that it was a twenty-five minute drive, which I didn’t love, and it was grocery shopping, which I really loathe, but then it was done for the week. Several kids piped up, reminding me that I could go pick up Starbucks. I love that they already know me a little bit.

Finally, another bright spot was that this week I was monitoring the hallway between fourth and fifth hour. My fourth hour class stays for fifth hour study hall, unless they’re going to choir. As I stood there, talking to the teacher next door, a girl in my class came up and gave me this:

What I cannot express fully is that one, this kid is one I’ve been working hard to connect with. And two, the night before I had to come up with a title for book four that I’m publishing this winter. The cover designer was ready to finish the cover. The book is written, but I hate coming up with titles. Hate it. Chris and I had brainstormed. Nada. I finally pasted the entire book into a word cloud. Dreams was the most used word. I quickly thought of Small Town Dreams. Looking online, I realized Nora Roberts had a book with the same title. Now, it’s rare to find no other book with your title, but I’m not using a title that Nora Roberts used. So I thought up other titles with “dream”. Nothing. Finally, I did a search in the book for the word “dream” to see how I used it, and one exchange between the two protagonists has Nate telling Elle to follow your dream. Bingo. So, one email to the cover designer later and I had a title.

And the next day a student that I was trying to build a relationship with handed me a note with the same words written down? 


She’d handed me the note and headed back in, not waiting for me to read it. So I headed in and quickly told her the story. Her beaming smile made my heart happy. 

A bright spot for sure.

I hope you’re having lots of bright spots, wherever you are. One constant bright spot in my life since April of 2020 has been my Friday afternoon book club. One of our members, Jennifer LaGarde, has a book coming out with Darren Hudgins this month. This is an excellent resource for those of us in the classrooms or in libraries. I’d like to donate a copy to one of my blog readers. Check out Jennifer and Darren’s book HERE. If this book sounds like one for you, enter below. I’ll pick one winner next Sunday and email you if it’s you.

Hope you enjoy a lot of bright spots this week.