Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Perfect Gift

A Staggering Achievement, an old headline from Sports Illustrated about UConn's basketball team.  This headline is glued into my writer's notebook. I paused at this page and I read the headline several times.  As I read I kept thinking about the fourth graders I work with.  How they are developing readers and the bumpy road we are traveling to help them find their desire to read.  I would change the headline to A Struggling Achievement because it is a better title that shows the ups and downs of our book talks.  We celebrate the fact that everyone participated by sharing their thinking about the book. The rest of the session is a struggle...  A struggle to drum up enthusiasm about the book, a struggle to think deeply about the reading so we can stop having discussions focused mainly on plot, and a struggle to have everyone read the pages we agreed upon. 

I offer book choices so that they can find out more about themselves as readers. I share my passion and love for the books hoping it will rub off on them. The frustrations start to mount and the worries start to escalate.  How can I help this group of readers develop reading habits that will help them become avid readers?  As I constantly ponder this question over and over I find myself wishing I could send this letter to them.  A letter from my heart about the perfect gift I wish I could have every student accept with open arms.  

Dear Students,

I've grown to know that I cannot be a reading fairy who sprinkles magic dust and you instantly have a strong passion to read.  However, it is my only wish to be able to give you but one perfect gift.  The gift that lets you see the world and its many possibilities.  The gift so you can travel anywhere...real or make believe.  The gift that lets you read with stamina and fluency.  The gift that lets you learn about anything you choose and share your learning with anyone you please .

The gift to carry a book around with you each and every day so that you can read when a free moment comes your way.  A gift for you to learn life lessons, and to have the characters linger with you even when the book is done and put away.  A gift to share your reading life with others by passing on books to friends who would love this book just as much as you.  A gift to put everything else on hold because you just have to see how the author crafts the ending or it will be a huge catastrophe!  That perfect gift would be from me and that is to help you find the love and drive of why you should have a life where you carve out time each day to READ, READ, READ!  

Mrs. Buelow
Avid and Passionate Reader

This letter reminds me to shove my frustrations aside and think about how to keep motivating, inspiring and encouraging these students to discover who they are as readers.  It is a constant struggle but I won't give up because I believe that every kid will develop a love of reading!  So we keep reading and discussing and learning about who they are as readers and maybe the passion will emerge!  Maybe just maybe they will accept the gift of reading into their lives and see how powerful it truly can be! 

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great letter and a powerful sentiment. What a gift, for them and now for us, as you share this out.
    PS -- I can't help but wonder about the headline, as I am an avid UCONN fan (grew up in Connecticut, went to college near Storrs, and now live in Western Mass.)