I am so excited to be teaming up with my fellow Virginia bloggers to celebrate our love of reading! As teachers — even math teachers 😉 — we all can appreciate the power of a good book, and I hope that you’ll discover some amazing new books through this hop… and win some too!
HOW A BOOK LOVER IS BORN
Scene. You’ve just come in from recess on a blistering hot day at the beginning of September. You’re still in the awkward stage of third grade — where you’re not sure who to sit with at lunch, or line-up next to on the playground’s blacktop. You’ve got this teacher, this wacky teacher, and for some reason there’s a patio set in the middle of your classroom library. It’s just been sitting there since the first day of school — untouched, unused.
Finally, though, at the end of this first week, you’re led in to that untouched space and asked to sit down. You and your classmates, sweaty and tired, sit crisscrossapplesauce, still breathing heavily from an epic game of kickball.
“One of my favorite traditions,” your teacher begins, “is sitting here, under our patio umbrella, reading.” You look at the people next to you. Reading? Reading? This can’t be good. “The first book we’re going to read is My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville.” Jaws dropped. Suddenly, the sweat and heavy breathing and tired eyes are erased. Aliens? In third grade?!
She begins reading. The way she turns pages seems to take a thousand years. The voices she makes when reading each and every character… like the best voiceover actor in Hollywood. And when she stops? The anticipation for the next day — under your reading umbrella — begins immediately and eclipses the anticipation of just about anything, expect maybe Christmas morning.
That… that was Mrs. Butkus. I remember every moment of every day under our reading umbrella. I remember every book — and own them all, even as an adult — because she WAS reading. When I think of reading? I think of her, the gray plastic patio set, and the moments where I learned that books were cool. Books MEANT something to the human spirit — whether they be mysterious and funny or serious and life-altering.
HOW A BOOK LOVER IS RAISED
Fast-forward to the end of third grade. Mrs. Butkus took me aside, voice hushed, and handed me a book. The Giver. The cover jarred me — just an old man… a look about him that I couldn’t place. “Before you read it, ask your parents if it’s okay. It’s not a happy book, Sarah. But it’s an important book.”
I had been a reluctant reader. Despite my ability, a reluctant one. Despite my parents filling my bedroom with books, weekly trips to the library, deep-down I was reluctant. Reluctant to invest and relate in what I read.
And yet again, Mrs. Butkus changed that. The Giver changed my life. Her handing me that book is such a large part of why I became a teacher. I’ve read that book DOZENS of times. I’ve given it as a gift to every adolescent child in my life. I’ve given it as a gift to adults that need to be book lovers, too.
Each time I read it, I think of Mrs. Butkus. How she knew, just knew, I needed it.
HOW I’M RAISING BOOK LOVERS
Reading, to me, is an experience. I want my students to feel the way I do about reading — to love it, to cherish it. Some students have barriers — no books at home, limited ability to read the ones that they do have — and some just haven’t yet had that moment, the moment when you become a reader.
In December, I took my students to see a play at the Kennedy Center. Most had never been to a play, much less to one at one of the most beautiful theaters in the nation. They were in awe (as was I). Gosh, I wish you could’ve seen their faces. The joy it filled my heart with must have added ten years to my life.
The Gift of Nothing was the basis for the play. A story of a cat and dog — unlikely friends — it lightheartedly allows students to see through the “I want that toy!” and “I want that video game!” culture that we’ve seemed to cultivate to what’s really important: each other. The time we have on this earth… with each other.
We laughed, we smiled, we sat in important silence at times, and yes, some of us cried. And when we came back? We talked. “What was the message, friends? What is the gift of nothing?”
One of my sweet little friends uttered these words of beauty: “The gift of nothing is the gift of your heart.” Another: “The gift of nothing is showing someone you care.” And another: “The gift of nothing is playing with a friend on the playground when they’re alone.”
They got it. Not only did they get it, but they started to live it.
We, of course, read the book together. And then we celebrated what we learned by making our own boxes filled with nothing — and everything, all at the same time. The boxes on our bulletin boards didn’t have anything in them. Except, they had everything: the hopes, the dreams, the love, and the passion of 20 little readers, thinkers, and joy-filled hearts in Room 108.
Not all books have to mean something. Funny books, books that make you smile… those are nourishing too. They help raise readers, too. But sometimes, sometimes you need to read a book that gives you a gift of nothing, a gift that is everything. The gift of becoming a book lover.
I’d love to giveaway The Gift of Nothing to one of you and your students. Please enter in the Rafflecopter below. CONTINUE hopping through to enter the rest of the giveaways and for the grand prize!!
Please enjoy this FREEBIE writing craftivity to celebrate giving The Gift of Nothing — and the gift of reading — to your students.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my history as a book lover, reading about The Gift of Nothing, and grabbed your freebie! “Turn the page” on this blog hoppin’ adventure and see what my pal at SOL Train Learning has up her sleeve…
Attention Virginia Educators! There are several SOL support pages based on grade level to join on Facebook if you are interested. These pages are a place for Virginia teachers to share ideas, resources, links, and ask questions of each other specifically related to teaching to the Virginia Standards of Learning.
Neat Sweet and Hard to Beat says
Thank you for this book recommendation! I am always looking for good books to help my students understand the authors message! 🙂
Emily Levine says
My parents made me a book lover by always taking me to the library!
Stacy Parker says
My parents were wonderful storytellers, and inspired me to read. Thanks for this great blog hop!
Thanks…I don't know this book but it is one that I need for my classroom! 🙂 My parents always made sure that I had plenty of books to read. I think I belonged to every book club available. (Back in the fifties there just weren't as many children's books available to purchase when you lived in the "sticks" like I did!)
Heather Meek says
Beautifully written, Sarah! My parents just always read to us as kids- my dad always made the voices of the characters. This was a big deal since he was mostly non-emotional most of the time. When he'd read to us it was a time to snuggle and hear him laugh.
The Meek Moose
Tiffany Brosig says
Your students are lucky to have you! I am sure they will NEVER forget that experience. Thank you so much for all of your hard work on this hop! It's been great!
Cori Sweeney says
My mom made me a book lover!!!! 🙂
Haley Wolgamot says
What an awesome experience to take your kiddos to the Kennedy Center! My 3rd grade teacher took us to DC and we toured everywhere. It is something that I've never forgotten! Thanks for everything you've done on our hop!
Owls and Lessons, Etc.
Donna Grainger says
I've never known anything but being a book lover. I give all the credit to my parents. Loved your story about Mrs. Butkus.
Rachel Campbell says
My parents most definitely made me a book lover!
Julie Smith says
AWESOME post!! What a meaningful message that your students will always remember 🙂
The Techie Teacher
What a wonderful post! Mrs. Butkus sounds like the kind of teacher we all hope to be. I can only hope that many moons from now, one of my students will share a story of how they came to embrace reading in my classroom. Thank you for helping to make this hop a wonderful success. It's a pleasure to hop with you!
Mrs O Knows
Mrs. Brown says
Oh gosh, I was a born reader…I loved going on adventures in books so I guess I was a self-motivated reader although I sure loved my first grade teacher, Mrs. Valentine! Thanks for the chance!
S.O.L Train says
Your teacher sounded amazing! That is the kind of teacher that we should all try to be like!
cindy winkler says
I remember reading Lad: A Dog, Black Beauty, the Little House books, and hundreds of others. I loved reading and still do. I love The Giver too. It is one of my favorites. I had a teacher in 8th grade, who loved reading and made me love books more than I already did. Thanks for the opportunity!
Mrs. Davies says
My 3rd grade teacher, Mr. Dollins, made me a true book lover! 🙂
I've always loved reading! My parents read and told my siblings and I stories from the time we were babies.
Mary Love Strange says
I was a preaemie and was delayed in a lot of skills until mid to late elementary school. The Boxcar Children is first series (the first book was the first of the series I read) I remember reading all by myself. Then I went to the library often to read all of them in the series. 🙂 Since then I've loved reading! I like to read adventure bold and try to solve the mystery before it is revealed in the book. 🙂
Gay Eskew says
I guess I was around 3rd or 4th grade when I started readin Beverly Cleary books. I could really relate to Ramona!
Andrea Crawford says
This book looks wonderful! What an important message for our students as well.
I love how your teacher got everyone to want to read. Once that part of the battle is won, it is so easy to instill a love of reading in everyone!
Reading Toward the Stars
Alison Hislop says
I loved your comment "Even in math" – I love the use of picture story books to teach maths concepts!
Teaching Maths with Meaning
As a new teacher, I'm always looking for quality books to add to my small, but growing classroom library. Thank you for the recommendation. I, sadly, was not a true book lover until high school. Hopefully it won't take that long for my students to find their love of reading. 🙂
I'm adding this to my growing list of books to buy. I think in our digital age it is more important than ever to teach kids how important it is to be present with the people placed in their lives.
My love for books started around some time in middle school and hasn't stopped since! I've always got my nose in a book.
Polka Dot Lesson Plans
Sarah Hankinson says
Your book is added to my long, long list! Thanks for all of your hard work to make the hop possible!
Learning is for Superstars
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Renaissance Teacher says
This is a book I'd not previously heard of. Thanks for introducing me to it.
Lori Raines says
I would have to say the great teachers I had and my mom made me a book lover!
Great teachers made me a book lover! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
Shawn Withers says
My mom made me a book lover by reading to me when I was in her belly and then immersing me and sounding me with books as I grew up.
Reading with my parents made me a book lover! 🙂
Mrs. Gorley says
My mom and dad of course. They read with me regularly! I'm a slow reader though but that is OK!