"You have it!" My daughter's friend pointed at the bookshelf in my living room. "That book! I hated to read until I read that book!"
I followed her fingertip to the YA novel, 13 REASON WHY by my 2k sibling, Jay Asher. "That's one of my favorites, too," I said.
"I made all of my friends read it," she said. "Especially the ones who hated to read."
As a teacher, I am all about the curriculum connections for books. But what is really important isn't the Common Core or even the interdisciplinary weave-ins. It's getting them TO READ. My job is to get them excited about the written word--so much that they want to take the book home and finish it on the school bus. They should come back to school asking for the next book by that author. I want them asking to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because they want to see what Claudia saw.
We teachers have the power to kill the story for the kids, overanalyzing and tearing it apart until there's nothing left but the black and white.
The challenge I put forth for myself this spring is to put reading joy in our classroom day. As I read aloud to them, I want them to complain when I put the book down. I want them to miss important directions, because they are completely mesmerized by the book at their desk. I want them to love stories so much, that they might give a thought to putting one of their own down on paper.
I knew I was on the right track when one of my students raised his hand with a worried look on his face. He held up his free writing journal. "I don't have any pages left! What do I do?"
I smiled and tried not to do my teacher dance ( like the kind football players aren't supposed to do in the end zone). "You get another one, of course!"