Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Sacred 25

For many students, there is a requirement to read 25 books in a school year.  This requirement might be based on state or district standards, grade requirements, or teacher plans.  Whatever the reason, it's often human nature that when you HAVE to do something, the task is less desirable.

For example, I really enjoyed reading when I was a child.  But, boy, did I (and my sisters) dread those weekly trips to the library during the summer for the Vacation Reading Club.  Any book that I had to read for the reading club became a chore.  I became quite skilled at retelling the story by reading the first few pages, a few in the middle, and the ending.  Oh, and usually the morning before book club.  Admit it, you've probably done the same with a book or some other reading material that you were required to read.

I taught second grade for 11 years, and it was never a challenge for the children to read 25 "just right" books.  This year is my first year in fifth grade, and it is definitely a different scenario when helping the children to read those 25 "just right" books.  I want the children to challenge themselves, enjoy what they are reading, talk about the books, and grow as readers.  I don't, however, want to develop a group of book counters. When you begin to count the books you are reading, that's when you are reading as a chore and that's when you begin to scam the system to get your log completed.

I know from past experience with my own children, who are great readers, that when you choose "big books," that can really mess up the tally unless they can "count" for more than one book.  So naturally some children will opt out of a book they really want to read for fear of not meeting the requirement. And what about that "too small book" that you heard was really good?  Does that count?  And, if not, do you miss out on reading a good book anyway because you will lose time needed to read the books that do count?

I've built some flexibility into our reading plan for the year.  At the same time, I wondered how difficult, or easy, it is to read 25 book in a busy school year.  So, I decided that if my students were going to read 25 books, I would too.  I also allowed for some of the same flexibility that I was giving them - some easier books mixed in with some challenges.  A few rereads are perfectly acceptable.  A written project does not have to accompany every book, but I have tried to generate at least a casual discussion with other readers about many of the books I've read.  I've recommending some of the books to children or adults.  I've shared in some books discussions both in person and virtually.

I wonder how many adults read 25 books a year.  I'm almost there, but I will say that I'm a little nervous about getting to 25.  It's a busy spring.  I'm definitely resorting to some reader "tricks."  Books on tape for the car are great.  And I found a fantastic scrapbook book (it really was a good book - see #22) that I was able to read in a couple of hours today.  And, I also checked out from the library a photography book (lots of pictures) that I am totally counting when I'm finished with it! Hmm, I just might make it.

Here's my list so far...

1.  The Art and Science of Teaching (reread - required district reading)
2.  Curriculum Materials (counts as a book)
3.  Hunger Games
4.  Catching Fire
5.  Mocking Jay
6.  The One and Only Ivan
7. Night Circus (on CD)
8. Boomerang (on CD)
9. Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking
10.  Republic of Noise
11.  The Dreamer
12. Tales from Outer Suburbia
13.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret (reread)
14. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Toulane (reread)
15. Fables, Volume 1
16. Milkweed
17. Amulet 1
18. Amulet 2
19. Inside Out and Back Again
20. Wonderstruck
21. Lawnboy and Mudshark - counting as one combined
22. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt
23. TBD
24. TBD
25 TBD

Ditched Books:  Hitty Her First Hundred Years; Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire; Anne of Green Gables (maybe will finish)

Plan to Finish:  The Other Wes Moore; Rules of Civility

I might have read other books, but I didn't log them and can't remember them - so, technically, they don't count.

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