Imagine reading a book every day this summer. Yep, a whole book, cover-to-cover, every day. That is the premise behind the Nerdy Book Club’s #bookaday reading challenge. Picture books maybe. A really engrossing novel if it’s not too long. I tried last summer but didn’t make it. Life just kept getting in the way, no matter how devoted I was to the cause.
But I did read a lot more than if I hadn’t accepted the challenge. I found and fell in love with Wonder and 13 Reasons Why. I rushed on to The Future of Us because it was also by Jay Asher. It was good, but not as powerful as 13 Reasons Why. I decided that cookbooks count. Donalyn said so! And I read professional literature. Barry Lane’s highly entertaining suggestions on what my students should do to write in But How Do You Teach Writing? and then revise in After the End. I played with research ideas in his Wacky We-Search Reports. I really did read. I even jumped into Common Core exemplars for next year, Travels with Charley (which left me so grateful for Steinbeck’s return – finally – to his home in New York) and The Catcher in the Rye (which left me wondering which eighth graders are ready for that literary work!) I couldn’t make myself start The Last of the Mohicans, with apologizes to James Fenimore Cooper and the architects of the Common Core reading lists.
This summer I vow to do better! My stack is never-ending. I’m now in Cris Tovani’s I Read It But I Don’t Get It. I got to see her in summer PD and understand – for the first time – what close reading really means and how it is probably the only way my struggling readers will make it through the Common Core texts that I have been dreading. You see, I wholeheartedly believe in student C-H-O-I-C-E, and Common Core does not. This word exemplar I have come to despise.
And tomorrow I spend with Penny Kittle. I don’t care if she talks about reading or writing, I plan to just soak it all up! Then I dive into the stack next to my chair. Code Name Verity, a Holocaust thriller which the New York Times claims I will have to read twice, is first. I do love books set during this horrible period of history. Then I will finish The Berlin Boxing Club because one of my eighth grade boys told me at the end of the school year that I really needed to finish it. I had shared it with him because he is a gifted reader who would rather play sports. I thought it might connect with his interest in sports, and it did. He told me it was his favorite book of all time. He knew I had started it but was repulsed by an incident in the opening chapter. His words to me sounded very familiar, “You really should finish it.” So I will.
Then the story of a young runner who loses her leg in a tragic accident, The Running Dream, and Girl, Stolen, about a wealthy blind girl who is accidentally kidnapped in a carjacking. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is the last one in this stack, but I am sure there will be more. I might even force myself to read The Hunger Games trilogy, even though it is not my choice genre. If not, then Chains because I love historical fiction and never have read that one. And this is just the stack by my chair. There’s one on the piano, the nightstand, in a corner by the door to the deck. Oh my. This could take all summer. Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?