I have some exciting book and teaching related updates. First off, that "must-be-spent-immediately" surplus came through, as expected, and we ordered sixteen hundred dollars of books for our two fifth and sixth grade classes. My most exciting moment was when Jen said that drugs and child abuse weren't good reasons to hesitate on buying a class set of Harry Sue. Yeah! I will be able to share my very favorite read of 2006 with my class next year. Jen reminded me of the violence and harsh realities we share with kids in books about the Holocaust, which I know isn't the same as reading about a kid whose mom is incarcerated. But I am happy to agree with her judgment: real life is okay to bring into our classrooms. Three of my twenty students have parents who are currently incarcerated.
In other exciting news, nine of my students got their first ever library cards yesterday. It wasn't a small feat to do all the work involved in scheduling a late-May field trip and also getting so many of them to bring back signed application forms. But seeing them with their plastic bags full of books as we rode back to school on the transit train was, well---priceless.
I had this stack of books behind my desk that I was considering for class sets and literature group sets for next year. Kelsey came up and asked me for a good book the other day, so I just handed her one of those, and then Sorayma and Blanca had to have their own "special" recommendation and before you know it, my whole stack is depleted and now I don't know what to order for literature groups for next year cuz these girls (who will be my students next year) keep devouring my favorite considerations right and left. This is the sort of problem I love, of course. And I'm not too worried; I have all summer to find more great literature group books.
I must end by sharing one last beautiful book moment. These same book loving girls of mine (ten out of my eleven girl students) have reading skills and ability levels that are all over the map. On our library excursion yesterday we each got to choose one free book and most of us chose Ella Enchanted. So today, during our independent reading time, a spontaneous book club formed. They were all sitting on the steps of our "common area", shoulder to shoulder, each with their own copy of Ella Enchanted. Independent reading time is SILENT reading time, but they kept helping each other read, read, read. They kept comparing how far along their friends were and whispering about the plot and hard words. This has me rethinking my beliefs about always running exclusively homogeneous reading groups. There was certainly some beautiful power today in having them combine their strengths and support one another---a power that I'd like to tap, at least occasionally, next year.