Ever since discovering Donalynn Miller's The Book Whisperer last summer, I have become a better reader. Kid lit is the main ingredient in my reading diet, and I am surrounded by many, many rich stories. Even better, I have more to talk about with kids, and more books leave in readers' hands. A few months ago, I started to notice that students were bringing me their own personal books from home for me to read. It was after a few books arrived on my desk that I realized that the kind of authentic reading connections I wanted to have were beginning to take place.
Because this is what lifelong readers do--we love a book ourselves, rave about it and want someone else to read it so we can talk about it. I see the pride in a student's face when he or she volunteers their personal copy of Wimpy Kid to me. I feel the same when I know a book off my shelf will bring joy to a friend.
This kind of authentic connection also tells me that we have a culture of readers at ISB. Reading is cool at our school. It's a magical combination of awesome teachers giving them lots of choices, implementing readers and writers workshop, and a library chocked full of what they love.
Onto the picture I posted of Baby Island, the newest book brought to me from a home bookshelf. I was recently sharing with a group of 2nd graders how much I appreciate when people give me recommendations and how a parent had come in and told me how much she loved the book Princesses are Not Quitters! I confessed to them that princess books are not my favorite, but that I know I need to branch out as a reader, and I wound up loving the book (so did they!). Just then, a sweet girl said, "That's just like Baby Island for me." She told a bit about it and said she would bring it to me the next day.
And so she did. She brought me this book, published in 1937, that might have been the softest book I've ever held. I was perplexed and fascinated by this tale of two girls, aged 10 and 11, who are shipwrecked on a desert island with 4 toddlers. That's right--FOUR! The best part of it was that these girls were not stressed out at all, not for being shipwrecked nor for the prospect of entertaining 4 toddlers for an indefinite period of time. It was like a big playtime for them, which made me smile the whole time I was reading. Perplexing to me, but what a blast for a second grader.