Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Today is one of those days when I want to snuggle up with a blanket and a good book. If I was still teaching reading in junior high, my lesson plans would change. Today would be a free reading day! Most kids loved those times. But, there were always a few.
I always made a promise to kids at the start of the year. Even if they had "never read a book", or never found one they liked, I would find at least one they could say, "Yea, that was pretty good." This was a tall order for some, but I did usually find one.
Josh was one of those boys. He didn't want to read and didn't like to read. He called me on the promise. I don't remember if we went through a few books or if "Tears of a Tiger" by Sharon Draper was the first one I pulled, but it was a keeper. Josh moved on to "Forged by Fire", also by Draper, and liked it almost as well. In fact, he liked these books so well that he didn't really read anything else for a long time! Every year he would come back to my room to borrow one of them to read again.
Last year, Josh was a senior and in my Creative Writing class. He was also taking Individualized Reading and needed more than two books to read for the semester. Once he had finished Draper's books, he was at a loss.
I pulled "Looking for Alaska" by John Green. He loved it. Josh devoured every John Green book on our shelves.
Stationed in Afghanistan, Josh updates me on Facebook what he is reading in his "free time". His girlfriend messaged me one day asking for book suggestions. And then one day, I received a message that said, "Could you get me copies of the John Green books? I need more to read over here. I have turned into a reading machine! I'll pay you and pick them up when I am home on leave."
It was so good to see him in person when he stopped in my classroom. No longer the kid who sat in my room many mornings serving detention, he was a man now and grateful for the gift of books. How life changes in the course of a few months.
It's funny how this post took on a life of its own. I started to write about my love of reading on rainy days and ended by writing about one of my "Hall of Fame" favorite students. But I'm a little worried. Generally we chat on Facebook about once a week or so and I haven't heard from Josh in a few weeks. Has me a little concerned. I better message him on Facebook...