Books Are Almost Always the Answer


#sol- November 22, 2016

Books are pretty important to me- as I said to a former student recently who wanted my feedback on a story he had written, “Books are almost always the answer.” This totally made sense in the context of his story.

It is that time of year, report writing… I’ll be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with reports (I love thinking deeply about the students and their progress, I hate crafting the sentences that say all I want to within the given parameters- I type slowly and draft even slower). I get less reading than usual during report writing days, but books still keep creeping into my life. I realize I have gotten to know so much about the students in the books we have shared in addition to the stories they have read and written.

Recently a friend announced her pregnancy- my response give a book (A Child of Books– the mom-to-be is a book lover too). Books are great gifts for any occasion!

Today during my afterschool activity (Book Love, frequent readers will remember) I asked T to choose a picture book for us to read. T is in this activity for the third semester and says that he will be in it until he moves on to middle school. He also happens to be in my class this year, so he knows our class library fairly well. He grabbed a book off the shelf that he had never read: I Hate Picture Books, mostly because he knows how much I LOVE picture books. I read the book aloud to these 20 students and they shouted book titles aloud when they recognized familiar lines or characters. I then sent them off to read or write, after a gentle reminder to be a bit quiet so that others could do their thing.

Two students were planning to write a book together, I joked that it could be I Hate Quiet, as these two boys enjoy a good chat (often in Korean) with their friends while they sketch and read. Every time I went near them today they hid their work, “Not yet, not yet!” they protested. Near the end, they came to me and proudly shared their work- a 4 page illustrated book- starring me as the teacher demanding quiet (maybe my reminder had not seemed so gentle to them?) and two innocent looking boys. At the end, they shared their book with the group, which inspired another young writer to share his story too. One of the writers was in the activity last year- it was clear he did not really enjoy it, but as time went by he seemed more content. This year when he was on the list again I asked him why- was his mom forcing him to come?

“Last year she made me come. This year I wanted to come,” O answered. His co-author was new to English last April. He clearly identifies as a reader and buries himself in reading and writing each week. I asked him today the secret to his success for learning so much English so quickly and he responded, “I read a lot.”

As these busy days are upon us all (or will be very soon) today was a good reminder for me to make sure that I make time for myself to read, but also that I make the time to read to my class. Books are almost always the answer!

8 thoughts on “Books Are Almost Always the Answer

  1. Amy Warntz

    This post parallels so well with my post! The enthusiasm we share resonates with our students. I love the way “O” had a change of heart. Kudos to you and your readers!

  2. franmcveigh

    Erika, “books are almost always the answer!” I love it! And unfortunately our students do reflect back their perception of us. Our words do matter. However, I’m sure your gentle response was still gentle even if they did not want to comply at that time! ❤

  3. languageacquisitiontwicethework

    I’ve have the privilege to witness how Erika inspires ALL children (even the ones that are not in her class) to be crazy about reading/books. It’s humbling to work with someone who is so knowledgeable and so familiar with children’s literature, authors, interests, and the latest events related to reading. N’s comment about how his English has grown so much, confirms Stephen Krashen’s input hypothesis, he states that vocabulary and spelling are best acquired through reading. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us!

  4. lisaorchard1

    I love your title! “Books are almost always the answer!” I have my boys read at least 20 minutes a night and my youngest has become quite a reader. I’m always looking for books that might interest him. 🙂

  5. teachworkoutlove

    I hadn’t found reading very important for a long time from having a kid and teaching and being caught up in life – but then I realized, how am I a reading teacher who doesn’t read for fun!? So that has changed!


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