Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Life as a Reader

My July reading list


If I were to ask your students about you as a reader, what might they tell me? My students might have said that I have way too many favorite books, that I love first lines, and that I cry during the sad parts...a lot. Most of all though, I hope they would say that their teacher loves to read, and is passionate about helping them to become lovers of books as well.

I will admit though that I have sometimes (OK...a lot of times) struggled to keep up with my reading lists as other priorities have stolen my reading time. There are many, many times that I would have much rather been reading the latest John Green book than tackling the never ending stack of essays that needed to be read and assessed.

 I have been inspired by so many of my colleagues who are voracious and passionate consumers of books.  They always seem to know the latest titles, and their classroom libraries are a testament to their love of reading and their desire to share this love with their students. I often find myself wondering where they find the time to devote to their reading.  Do they have more hours in their day than me?  Do they not grade student essays, attend staff meetings, vacuum their houses and unload the dishwasher?  Of course they do.  They have simply made a commitment to be lifelong readers, and to model this for their students.

So in our crazy, chaotic lives as teachers, how do we make sure to set aside time for our own personal reading? To help with my personal struggle, I have taken a few steps that have helped me in my pursuit to be an engaged rand lifelong reader.

  • Join a book club. Making a monthly commitment to read and discuss books is so motivating.  No one wants to be the member who dropped the ball and didn't finish the book...although I have been that member on many occasions.  My book club is an amazing group of English teachers, two professors, and one school secretary who loves books. There is nothing more inspiring than a wonderful group of readers, great books, amazing discussions...and red wine...to help tackle your reading list.
  • Join an online reading community.  I love tracking my reading on Goodreads.  It makes me feel accomplished every time I review my virtual bookshelf. The best aspect of sites such as goodreads is that you can connect with other readers.  When I see that my friends have read a book and given it five stars, I instantly add the title to my "to-read bookshelf." It is a an easy way to find new titles to add to your reading list.
  •  Twitter.  While I am more of a stalker on Twitter, I stalk some really amazing authors, readers, publishers and professional communities.  Some of my favorite people to follow are Teri Lesesne, Donalyn Miller, Colby Sharp, John Schu, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Laurie Halse Anderson...and the list goes on and on and on.  A few of my favorite hashtags to follow are #nerdybookclub, # engchat, #bookaday and #titletalk.  All of these will provide you with far too many new titles to add to your reading list.
  • Surround yourself with other readers.  Some of my favorite moments are spent talking with readers about reading.  These friendships and conversations are invaluable.  If you don't have the time to meet monthly with a bookclub, find time to chat about books in the hallways between classes and in the teachers' lounge.  My reading life is so rich because of my friendships with such amazing teachers as Nicole, Haley, Abby, Charmayne, Michelle, Meg, Tony, Donna, Kelly...the list just goes on and on.
  • This may seem like a no-brainer, but read with your students.  I know that it is so tempting to grade papers and to respond to emails while your students are reading, but taking this time to read with your kids allows you to steal a few minutes of reading time, and shows your students that reading is a valuable, worthwhile activity.  My students always wanted to know what I was reading, and when I was finished with the books, these were usually the first ones to fly off of the bookshelf. The teachers at PMS began to post their reading lists on their classroom doors so that students could see what their teachers were reading.
So, what do you do to help making reading a priority in your personal life and in your classroom?  I would love to read your suggestions!

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