My Reading Identity

I believe I might drive people around me crazy with my talk of books.  I am always collecting books, reading books, talking about books and sharing books.  Reading is such an important aspect of my life, I just can’t help myself.

I am inspired to write this post by my latest book, “Passionate Readers,” written by Pernille Ripp.  Pernille is the founder of the Global Read Aloud and I am sure she would do anything to get the right book into the hands of a child.  She believes strongly in reader choice and is working tirelessly to promote the love of literacy in our students.

In her book, she challenges her readers to think about their own reading identity.  My earliest memories of reading are directly connected to my father.  He has always been an avid reader and continues to find great joy in the time he spends reading now that he is in his 80’s.  When I was a child we would curl up and he would read many things to me but especially all the adventure of Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne.  Over the years we have had many conversations about the things we were reading about.  For many years, it was my tradition to buy him a new book every Christmas.  He would often give it back to me to read so we could talk about it.

My father reading “The Night Before Christmas”

These early experiences I have had with books influence me on a daily basis.  I have always wished I could instill in every one of my students my inner passion and love for reading.  It didn’t matter if I was teaching early years, my high school students I spent 20 years with or now with my middle year’s students. I read aloud to them as I can and talk reading every chance I have.  When I look back over some of my teaching strategies, I would like to go back and make some changes, such as long reading responses and killing the joy of a good book by pulling it apart into unnecessary pieces, rather than appreciating it for what it was.

Idea was taken from Passionate Readers

At the same time, I have never wanted to go back and change the time we spent reading aloud and enjoying good books together.

To bring this around to where I am right now, I realized I needed to renew my relationship with books by making reading time a higher priority in my daily life and not just something I save for school breaks when it seems easier to take the time.  My grade 6 students spend a lot of time reading, sharing and enjoying literature together.  I have such an enthusiastic and wonderful bunch of students, many of which share my love of reading.  We call ourselves “The Fam Jam” and because of that, we need to make sure we are all working together just as a family would.  I am always looking for that reading magic that will pull in my more reluctant readers.

Reading choice is my friend.  Our reading time is sacred.  Every member of “Fam Jam” gets to choose the things they like to read.  This is not always the way it has been in my classroom, but now that I have embraced the importance of student voice and choice, I would never go back. My students also know it is okay to not finish a book.  If you walked into our classroom when we are choice reading, many of us would not even know that you were there.  I tell my students about one when I was reading along with my high school students and one of them crawled out the window and then came back in, just because he could. We had a good laugh, but okay…even I realize that being that focused on what I am reading might not be a good idea in the classroom.

Grade 6 “Fam Jam” during choice reading

I am constantly ordering or borrowing books.  Let’s just say, Amazon and Scholastic are some of my best friends along with our school library and our local community library.  I have been trying to build up our classroom library and listen to what my students need to have included.  We keep a running list of books we might like to purchase or borrow.  We have read 288 books as a collective group so far this year.  Our goal is 500 and I think we are going to make it.

Our book count we change daily.

My reading identity is tied to the joy I have in reading and focused on sharing my love of reading with my students.  Pernille Ripp says it best in her book, Passionate Readers,

“…we must approach each day with an incredible sense of urgency.  We must fill our minds with the research we need to support our ways, and we must be passionate about the things we see as most important to further reading success-in my case, it means giving the students time to read within our short time together, finding a way to confer with each child, incorporating as much choice and freedom as possible, and doing meaningful work with our reading rather than ‘get it done’ tasks.”

Well said!




So many great words…what should I choose?

After much thought and consideration, I have picked what I consider the perfect #oneword for my 2018.  The word I picked is “renew.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “renew” as “to make like new: to restore freshness, vigor or perfection.  One of the reasons I picked the word “renew” is because I am at what I consider to be a  weird crossroads in my life between full-time motherhood and an empty nest and at work, I am no longer a new or developing teacher, rather I can clearly see retirement when I look into the future.

Neither one of these things seem like a reason to coast, but rather a reason to start fresh and “renew.”  As many of you know the years we spend raising our children are the most rewarding, stressful, and wonderful years.  Many times as my children were growing I would wish for a moment to myself and of course, just one good night’s sleep.

Now that they are all venturing into their future education and on to careers, I have plenty of time on my hands.  Maybe not the sleep part yet, but who knows, that might come as well.

I have never been an educator satisfied with the status quo.  At every stage of my career, I was always seeking a challenge.  I was always looking for ways to improve what I do.  Just the thought of flipping open a binder of materials I have offered up to my students for the past 10 years makes me feel unmotivated and uninspired.   Being in the final stages of my teaching career, as I know it anyway, does not seem to be a reason to coast, rather an opportunity to learn more, share more, collaborate more and grow more.

As I head into 2018, I realize how many things I have to be grateful for and feel inspired to renew many of those things.

Things I plan to renew in 2018:

  • My relationship with my husband and children.
  • My visits to the public library.
  • My gratitude for the life I have.
  • My time spent with my creative self.
  • My love of fitness and focused physical challenges.
  • My bucket list-so many exciting things I still want to do.
  • My writing self especially on my blog.
  • My time spent with my parents.
  • My desire to be outside of the box or maybe take the box down totally.

I am sure I will have the joy of finding other things to renew along my path through 2018.  I hope you will join me!