After finishing our story from before lunch, I described my plan to have the children go book shopping. We went over how to choose a good fit book for ourselves, and I set the kiddos to work.
I spent the next 10 minutes helping children select the best books for them. At one point, I had a line of four kids all wanting me to share some of my favorites with them. The best part of all of this, though, was how they were asking each other. With smiles on their faces and excitement in their voices, they talked about the books they had read and made suggestions to their friends. The excitement was hard to miss. There was even a small fight over one of my favorites: Pete the Cat!
As the students finished choosing their books, they congregated on the carpet and poured over their new selections. They discussed pictures with each other and practiced reading the words. Some of them realized their books weren't really good fits for them, and they returned the books to get new ones. They made connections to times when we had read the various books and discussed why they chose each specific book. I heard discussions about characters and authors.
In that moment (and many other moments throughout the day, but especially this moment), my students were readers. More importantly than that, they were readers who loved reading and who were excited about books. It didn't matter that some of my students aren't quite to the book reading stage yet, and it didn't matter that I don't have thousands of books. All that mattered was that I was giving them a chance to make choices and to find the books they loved.
I hope for many more moments just like this one in the next three months! When my students leave me to head to 1st grade, I hope they take with them these moments; I hope they remember the joy of reading and how good it feels to hold a book in their hands.