I tried to push them a little...I told them that I didn't pick books by authors they tend to read now...I didn't pick topics that they tend to read now--but that I took what I knew about them and picked something special. For example, I have a small group of kids who have poured through the Percy Jackson books--for them, I picked a Gary Paulsen adventure and explained that I thought they might like to follow a different type of character on a different type of quest. For another student who has been obsessed with reading Andrew Clements books, I selected "Strider" by Beverly Cleary and told her that I thought she might like to see how another author helps us get to know a main character, something both of these authors do so well.
Part of the joy of teaching reading is teaching students about the habit of reading--how we select books, how we maintain our focus through books, and how we think about the books we read. I have to admit, I go a little overboard. My classroom library is my pride and joy...I stopped counting at about 4,000 books...and I want my students to always have a little piece of that "book love" in their hands and in their homes. For those of us who are fortunate to have grown up with a love of books and easy access to them, this might seem mundane. But for some--like the one today who said, "You mean I can keep this one forever and ever?"--you never know when our love of books can spark something in a child.
May each of you find some beauty in a book over your winter break...and may you continue to get to know your students (and yourself!) as readers in the coming months.
Happy Last Day of School!