I find myself laughing to my self often when I am reading a good book, I just get so lost at times. This week I laughed plenty of times as we read Scar Island and I tried to mimic the voice of Colin and his speech impediment as it is written in the story. My students laugh too. He is our favorite character. My students forget to be the cool kids that can’t be seen giggling about school stuff because the book has completely pulled them in. Their eyes wide as lightning strikes and predictions being made left and right as we hit the first of many cliffhangers. In these moments books become immeasurable joy.
A student who has started her second reading of a wonderful book now that her friends have finished reading it. The corners are worn but it is perfect. Connections to characters and stories that draw a reader to return should be celebrated. I will probably need to replace the book before the year is up and that brings me joy.
Students discussing if something is or is not a signpost unsolicited by me, those moments when I look up from my desk to just listen to conversations unfolding around a text, knowing that what I am working on, what I am trying to help my students find is starting to form. That understanding that books are more than just words. They are adventures, they are escapes, they are a chance to learn something new or to see ourselves or others in a different way. The moments I see that understanding forming within my students, that is joy.
The busy student that never has time to read but greets me at the start of class with the news that they have read 2 different books in as many days (and they are not small books) and that they are smiling about it. That brings me crazy amounts of joy.
The chance I had to bring my niece and nephews to the bookstore today (two kept calling it the library). To take their mind off a loss they have just had to experience and talk about different books. To look at covers and help a 5-year-old find a picture book when there were none he wanted because he only wanted Basketball or Cowboys. We settled on one about a horse named Steve. I put my favorite book of the year (Refugee by Alan Gratz) in the hands of my 11-year-old nephew and he was reading it in the car as we left, eager to meet Josef, Mahmoud, and Isabel. Then my niece and her Sad Animal facts book that according to her was too many dollars but I bought it anyway and we all laughed and laughed as she read out the most bizarre facts and my nephew helped her when the words got too hard (note to readers: Herring communicate by farting and Some ferret breeds vomit on their soon to be mating partner to entice them. We edited “mating” to “dating).
These little moments are all brought to us by the joy of books. The chance to not just escape into another land but a chance to forget the crappy stuff we are going through even just for a moment. The chance to find your voice as a reader and forget that you need to be so “cool” that you can’t laugh at something funny. People ask me why I love reading and really in the simplest form it is because I find joy.