I spent the morning in my classroom doing some cleaning and organizing bookshelves. So often while I reshelve books I pause and wonder which ones to feature, I think about past lessons that I have used the books as some instructional inspiration. Organizing picture books into different groupings like Peter Reynolds, Notice and Note and BHH, Mindset and Life Lessons, Social Studies and “Additional Awesome Books I just like to share with kids” I just love all the different concepts that can be taught and explore within a picture book.
I look over my comic books and know that there is a great movement in education right now incorporating all the amazing themes and character work in comics and I get anxiety over the “new” way to explore within these wonderful texts.
I am not a huge fan of front faced libraries when it comes to novels, I just don’t have the shelf space and find it is messy (yup a bit of a control freak) but today I thought about just front facing some titles as a bit of a showcase. For my reluctant readers, to add some diversity to the suggestions and just show off some of the titles I love (A few I have not read but they are authors I love or recommended by some pretty awesome people).
I see this line so often, “How do you teach… The Giver, How to Kill a Mocking Bird, Outsiders, Refugee… the list goes on and on. I always think that it seems so impersonal when the words that an author puts on a page are just the opposite. So incredibly personal. You hear JK Rowling talk about her love for her characters, the tears she shed as some died throughout the books. I can’t imagine she ever envisioned a 225 page Novel Study to “teach” Prisoner of Azkaban. For only 25 dollars you too can own it on TPT. Or heck why not get the MEGA PACK covering Books 1-3 for all your teaching needs for only 60 dollars. I can’t imagine reducing a story of redemption and perseverance like Azkaban to a workbook but hey we gotta teach the books.
I can’t help but wonder how much our students learn to dislike reading because of the “teaching” of books. We can explore books, we can use them to help illustrate a concept but breaking them down to a page by page workbook is disrespectful to the stories, to the characters and to the authors. Buying the workbook is likely some form of copyright violation as the author probably gave no permission for their intellectual property to be sold off to teachers who are desperate for a way to “teach”. Finally, these workbooks rob us too. They rob teachers of the opportunity to read with their students, to enjoy the moments together.
Many of the leaders in literacy I have the chance to learn from discuss multiple factors to creating a classroom of kids who love to read. Passionate teachers sharing titles, access to books, removing levels as a tool for segregation and time to read and apply knowledge. None mention workbooks, none mention a teaching really just “teaching” a book so hard that readers are born. They don’t mention it because it doesn’t happen. Readers are not born in the pages of workbooks. They are born as a Patronus Charm explodes over a lake, they are born as a Wild Robot returns home, they are born in the final moments of Refugee as the story is so beautifully woven together.
We need to stop being so concerned with how to teach books. We need to get back to the business of helping students love them.