Dear Teachers, Reading Should Be Fun.

My father reading to his
firstborn son (the same way
he would later do with me,
but there aren't many
pics, because I am #3!)
Dear Teachers,
Welcome to a new school year! You are AMAZING, did you know that? We authors/parents/citizens/humans appreciate everything you do.

And because reading is one of my most favorite activities -- and has been since my father held me in his lap and read Shel Silverstein poems to me -- I wanted to share some thoughts with you about reading.

1. Not every kid is going to love books, and that's okay. I wrote a post about this a few years ago over at Nerdy Book Club. One of my sons is dyslexic. The other two read on an as-needed basis. It's doesn't make me (or them) a failure. Fortunately we live in an age where there are a multitude of ways to enjoy stories!

wee me with a favorite book
2. If you want the duckies to love reading, get them a classroom bathtub.  That's what my third grade teacher Mrs. Fattig did. Her husband was a plumber, so she stationed a reading tub in the room, complete with pillows and plush toys... I remember we had to learn the fifty states, and we got to sit in the bathtub to recite them. I memorized them geographically, starting with Florida (where we lived), and working my way across the country. As it turns out, this method is NOT the most effective. The students who learned their states alphabetically consistently outperformed me! Since then I've visited other schools that feature reading bathtubs.

3. Kids are never too old to be read to.  Want to create a culture of curiosity and wonder in your classroom? READ ALOUD. Want to create more empathetic humans? READ ALOUD. Want a world full of happy lifelong learners? READ ALOUD. And no, it doesn't matter how old they are. Just ask the book whisperer Donalyn Miller.

But you know all this already, don't you? Of course you do, because you're a reader and a lover of words and you are interested in authors and books and bookmaking and most of all, KIDS.

Not enough thank yous
for the parents,
friends and teachers
who've given me

Thank you for being the loving, encouraging teachers that you are.

You are making a difference.

You are making the world a better place.

I'm so grateful.

Irene Latham is the author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for Birmingham Arts Journal


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