Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don’t Forget the Daily Blessing

“Blessing” books is the term I’ve adopted to describe the practice of getting kids excited about books by telling something about them. It’s when you hold up a book and say, “I was just looking through my books and came upon this one (showing Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing). I got so excited when I saw it because it’s an old favorite. My third grade teacher read it to me when I was a kid and I remember being disappointed every time she closed the book because I loved it so much. It’s about a boy named Peter who has a pesky, yet very funny, little brother. If you like to laugh out loud when you read, you will LOVE this book. What’s great about it, too, is Judy Blume went on to write more of these books so if you read this and like it, you can read Superfudge, Fudge-A-Mania, and Double Fudge. Let me read you this one little part to give you a flavor of what it’s like…”

Twice this week alone teachers have shared stories with me about how the time they took to bless a book affected their students’ book choices. One teacher told how the kids watched vigilantly as she placed the just blessed book back in the library. She told how they scrambled to be the first to read it. Another teacher told me about blessing an easy book which inspired a struggling reader to put away her hard book in exchange for an easier one knowing that in this classroom, it is okay to read titles that appear a bit simple.

In order to make good book choices, kids need to know what’s out there. We can’t expect children to try new genres or authors or series if nobody ever tells them they exist. Blessing books is a quick and easy thing to do and the impact on young readers is immeasurable. The two minutes it takes to talk up a book may be just the push a child needs to read for ten or twenty minutes…or, if we’re lucky, influence their reading for days and months to come.

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