Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fear of Books

Prompt Source: Thursday Quick Write by Kate Messner and Margo Sorenson  #teacherswrite on Twitter

Fear of Books

I stopped. The library doors are Stop Sign Red.

Do I want to go in? Can't I just say, "I forgot."  Again. If this were library time, I'd hop through these doors to play the scavenger hunt and bingo games with our librarian, Mrs. Dickey. She helps us learn where the books are in the library and the topics of the books. That's fun, but I never check them out.

But Monday, Ms Edwards told us she wants us to try to read 40 books this year.

Forty books.

We have to read every day in our own books.

I've never read a book. Not a whole book. Not on my own. Yuck. I hate reading. I hate reading like that kid last year wrote. What did he say?* I forgot, but I hate reading like I hate spinach. It's boring.

"Sam, is that you?" Mrs. Dickey opens the library door after noticing me standing there.

"Um. I didn't pick out a book yesterday in library time. I need one by reading class time. Mrs. Edwards sent me." It was noon recess. I want to be at recess.

"Come on in, Sam." Mrs. Dickey guided me through the door with a gentle push on my shoulder.

I almost turned around. I mumbled, "I have to go see Mr. Erickson about cross country."

But she stood in front of the door now. She asked, "What kind of book do you need? Novel? Biography? Mystery?"

"Any kind. One hundred pages."

She looked at me and said, "You know how you are always drawing those cartoon sketches of your friends - those stick figures-- during library?"


"I just got a new shipment of books, and one has lots of sketches in it. I think you'll like it. It's called, 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid.'"

She nudged me to her desk, and presented me with the book, flipping through the pages. "Look, lots of drawings. And they're funny; the book is funny. It's not that long, but is just over one hundred pages. Ryal really likes them, and he's your friend."

She waited while I stared at it. Well, it did have a lot of drawings. It was only 117 pages long. "Look, lots of drawings," I thought to myself. "Lots."

"Let's check it out," she said, and took the book to her computer. She checked it out to me.

I have a book to read. A real book. I think I can read this one.

As I left the library, Mrs. Dickey said, "Look. There's lots more in the series." She held up at least four books.

"Hmm. Maybe I will make it through reading class," I thought as I put the book in my locker, right on top.

The Reading Paragraph

* The paragraph below was written in writing class by one of my former students about reading:

"I hate reading. I hate it because it is boring, and I’m not good at it.  I hate it like lima beans.  It stinks like a wet fart, and I hate that smell.  If it were my choice, I would eat a pinecone instead.  Reading is the activity I hate the very most.  It sucks like a teacher that does not listen, and I hate that.  I would rather have a hunchback.  In fact, I would give up my legs rather than read.  I hate reading more than math.  Reading is what I hate."

The Background

So many students in my classes have hated reading, that I decided that I would put a goal up: Read 40 books this year. Just that simple.

Then I told them that for at least three days a week, they would read for an extended time, at least fifteen minutes, often more, in our reading class to help them make that goal.

I also said they needed something to read on their own to apply the reading lessons we would learn and practice, because if they can't use the strategies on their own books, they don't do much good, do they? We would not write from our books every day, but, I suggested, you may as well read something you like and bring it to class every day. In fact, bring your book that you choose to all your classes, I encouraged them.

Soon, all the kids were reading books. Only three out of thirty-one needed reminding by the end of the year. Often students would say, "Could we just read the whole period today?" The most books a student read this year was 72! The least was five.

We're making a dent. How about you?

Ms. Edwards

The Prompt

Want to try this prompt from Teachers Write Camp?

Prompt Source: Thursday Quick Write by Kate Messner and Margo Sorenson


Kate Messner

Margo Sorenson

Okay…ready to write? Today’s Thursday Quick-Write is courtesy of guest-author Margo Sorenson!

A student walks into the library/media center at lunchtime. What is she/he thinking? Worried about? Dreading? Hoping or wishing for? What are the risks/stakes for him/her?

Show us in a paragraph or two.
Note from Kate: Some possible formats for this quick-write:
• A journal entry from that character, written later on
• A letter from that character to his or her best friend
• A letter from that character to his or her worst enemy
• A poem in the character’s voice
• A monologue in the character’s voice
• A conversation in dialogue between the character and a friend/the librarian/an enemy

For those of you in the middle of a work-in-progress, try this with your main character, or better yet, a secondary character you want to develop more fully. Imagine him or her walking into a room and feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Why?

You can write this from a third person perspective, from the focus character’s point of view, or for a twist, try writing from the point of view of a disinterested observer in the room — someone who has no idea who the person is or what’s going on. What would he or she observe in terms of mannerisms and body language?