At that moment, all of my struggles from this year were worth it. These boys, who typically don't say more than a peep, were so into this book they didn't even notice as I grabbed my iPad and tweeted a picture of them. They were smiling from ear to ear, and I could tell they were enjoying themselves. This is the type of moment every teacher dreams about.
Here's what I believe made this moment happen (At least I hope this is what happened. I have a hard time truly believing I do anything good in my classroom...):
- I hyped this book up when I read it aloud to them! I absolutely love this book, and I made sure my kiddos knew that. Before reading, I talked about how it is my all-time favorite book to read aloud to kids. I shared my love for the songs in the story and for making the different farm animal noises. The kiddos were excited about this book before I even cracked the cover.
- I let my children choose books on their own. We talk and talk and talk about "Good Fit" books (using the Daily 5's I Pick chart), and my students are pretty darn good at choosing just right books. The most important piece of this, I believe, is interest. How in the world can you find enjoyment in reading a book you're not interested in? Personal example: I am a graduate of my college's honor program, which involved reading all kinds of literature I was not interested in. As a result, I hated most of what I read. I spent many nights frustrated at how much I didn't want to read what I was reading; I think I even threw my copy of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself against the wall. As I looked around my classroom Friday morning, not a single student was throwing books at the wall. In fact, every one of them was immersed in their books and smiling, because they were reading books they wanted to be reading.
- Reading is a social activity in my classroom. My student's fight over the three slots for Read to Someone I offer during each Daily 5 rotation; there are very audible groans when I tell them that session is full. They love to read to each other! They also love to talk about their books. Occasionally, we'll have book talk days, where the students can choose one of their books, come to the front of the class, and talk about why they like that book. We haven't done this in awhile (too much other "stuff" to do...), but when we do get in the habit of doing book talks, my kiddos, again, fight over the chance to do so.
- Our classroom library is constantly growing. There were no books in my classroom when I moved in last July. That meant the only books I had to fill my library were the books I had accumulated over my first three years of teaching. Sadly, that meant there weren't that many. Over the year, I've been using bonus points from Scholastic book orders like a crazy person. I've also made three trips to Half-Price Books, and each time I purchased close to $50 worth of books. Every time I bring new books into the classroom, I make a big deal out of it. I tell the kiddos exactly why I bought these specific books and recommend them to certain students. The last time I came back with a big haul from Half-Price Books, I struggled to get them all to fit in my library bins. As I was expressing this concern, one of my little lovelies said, "Well, Mrs. Hansen, stop buying books!"
- Finally, I believe this I-love-reading moment happened because it was between two good friends. (As I mentioned) normally these little guys are shy and reserved, but when they are around each other they feel free to be silly. I never would have thought I would hear them singing that song from across the room, and I probably wouldn't have if they hadn't been allowed to share that moment
I spent some time this weekend revisiting Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer. Initially I read this book during my second year of teaching, and it transformed everything I believed about reading into the beliefs I hold today; I don't think this moment would have happened if I hadn't read that book two years ago. As I was reading the first few pages for a second time yesterday, I couldn't help but smile and remember my Dooby Dooby Moo boys. At the grand old age of 6, they have developed a strong love of reading, and I hope they hold on to that love for a lifetime!