"Do you read?" My second-period class asked me as I asked them to take out their books. "Read?", I enthusiastically replied. "Why, I read every day! I read street signs, manuals, cookbook recipes, magazines, catalogs, bank statements, bills, school materials, lesson plans, etc."
"That's nice," they insipidly replied. Pause. More pause. Then one student added, "But do you read any books like we have to do?" Like entire books?", a different student added in case I needed further clarification.
Stunned, I answered, "Of course I read books! As a matter of fact, I just completed three great books by the same author. And the average length of these books is 600 pages, but not to worry, once I start reading them, I can't seem to put them down!"
My entire class of students was in shock. They couldn't believe that I spent time during my evenings reading books, when according to them, "there are so many other things to do."
In case you are wondering what these books are, I came across an exceptional narrative non-fiction author as a result of participating in my first North Shore Reads (a local celebration of Long Island Reads and National Library Week) book event whose 2017 book selection was Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson. The book was phenomenal so I checked out two of his other many books Isaac's Storm and The Devil in the White City. Both books are gripping and well-researched accounts of historical events that vividly connects the reader to the real-life characters and historical experiences in its pages. I shared my experiences of these books with my students and then asked them what was on their nightstand. My students' responses included cell phones, tablets, and video games. There was literature, of course. The official menu: Teen Vogue and Sports Illustrated Kids.
This got me thinking about a couple of things. One, I did not fulfill one of my teaching goals of this year which was to create life-long "independent" readers, and two, I need to share what I am reading with my students and to resume Book Talks which I have done in the past. Book Talks is a great way of getting kids to share, with little grading or judgment involved, what they are reading and interested in.
Read more about book talks and how to implement them in my former blog.
Hopefully, when I ask my students what is on their nightstand next year, their responses will include books and feedback about why they chose these books as well as a desire to share these stories with their peers in class.
So, I am curious. What is on your nightstand? Reply in the comments section below!