On the last day of school, the Voyagers went through their book journals and we created a list of each individual book that they had written down this year. We have a list of over 225 books! Let me take you back to three years ago. We were having an open house and few of our board members were touring my new classroom. We had a beautiful class library and one person asked which books my students were reading. I didn’t have an answer. Books! Large chapter books! Devouring books all day long! Getting them to stop reading personal books to work on classroom learning was the trick. I knew they loved to read but I was given the challenge to have them write down what they were devouring.
Over the next two years, we worked to create a simple system of logging the books we read. We even logged books if we only read the first chapter, decided we didn’t like it, and journaled why we put the book back. At the end of the year, I saw that students wrote in just a few books each, just the ones they really loved.
This year, we added a time slot each week that was dedicated to our reading journals. On Wednesdays, students would carefully write down their fiction and nonfiction reading for the week. When we made our list on the last day of school, we did not put in double entries. Several children have read the same book or series, yet we counted it as one entry. I made a habit of checking out 30-40 books from the library each week, and I noticed that those books were not entered in their journals, possibly because they were returned before we had time to journal.
I am glad to report to Nanci Sheeran and Katharine Harding, the two that directly inspired the students to “Write it Down!”, that the students really saw the value of the long list. They felt the pride and joy of their combined efforts. They also started calling out books that they remembered reading but didn’t see on the list. I trust that the next year's list may be the most detailed and complete yet.
I am thankful for a school that holds value to quiet reading time every day. A hush falls across the entire school after lunch while students find a cozy place to cuddle up with a book and read.
~ Teacher Angie