Sunday, March 26, 2006

I Love to Read

I don't mean I like to read, I mean I LOVE to read. I need to read. You know how some people say they feel naked or incomplete without their cell phone or watch? I feel that way if I don't have a book in my bag. Even if I'm going to meet a friend or something, you never know what's going to happen and you just might need a book!

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I cannot live without books," and although I've never really felt that he and I would have been best buddies, I understand that part of him well. I have books stacked by my bed, probably in my bed, on my desk, floor, tables, bathroom - I read on BART, while brushing my teeth, in the bath, sometimes while walking, and if there was a way I could read in the shower, I would. I just bought 36 books at our church book sale for $9, and 15 books from a homeless guy in the Mission District for $10. Oh, and checked out 7 more from the library next door to our school.

I am very different than my students in this way. Many of them didn't really have books in their house until their teachers started sending them home. They look at reading as something to be avoided, something scary, and in too many cases, something they are bad at and will always fail at. I'm sure reading experts would have a lot to say about the best methods to teach reading, and I'm sure I learned many of these methods at one point, but it seems that for a lot of these kids, what they need is encouragement that they can do it (it is AMAZING what saying "You're a smart kid," to them 4 or 5 times a day can do), finding books that are interesting, and showing them how much I love reading.

I am by no means the best teacher I know, or even one of them. I don't think teaching is my gift, necessarily, but I do think that relationships with difficult kids is. I love sharing my life (up to a certain extent, obviously) with them, and they feel so important when I tell them how my dog dug through the trash or some innocuous little detail like that. So, I've been trying to make a point of telling them how much I like to read, and how I read at every opportunity, and how many books I get from the library, and how I read more than almost anyone I know... and it totally works. They're getting all into it because that's what they're teacher does.

They have pointed out that maybe I should stop reading when I walk though, especially if I want to avoid spraining my ankle again.


Ellen said...

Oh yeah, I so get the reading thing! My dentist once said to me, as I put my book down so he could actually examine my mouth, "you always have a book with you!" Yup... One of my favorite books as a kid was THE VELVET ROOM about a girl who sneaks into an abandoned house and discovers a library room inside - ever since I've wanted my own personal home library and, looking around at the shelves and shelves and piles and piles of books, I got it! One of my favorite quotes from TELLING SECRETS by Frederick Buechner is: "...books are my passion, not only writing them and every once in awhile even reading them but just having them and moving them around and feeling the comfort of their serene presence."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you may love to read, but I still have you beat in sheer number of books in our house.