This weekend, I went to our local Barnes and Noble. When I walk into a bookstore, I have the same reaction I have when I walk into a shoe store. Everything is beautiful, and I want it all. I love the shelves stacked high with new, untouched books. I walked out with a bag full.
Yesterday at school, I placed some in the library bins and hid a few behind my desk.
Within seconds of the class coming to the carpet, they were spotted. And forget about making a teaching point. Brand new never touched books. Everyone wanted them. And I don’t blame them.
Growing up, my mom took me the library every week. She raised me with the why-buy-when-you-can-borrow mindset. My mom pile of books on the checkout counter, and I’d try to do the same. It was hard. I didn’t find much. All I saw were spines on gray metal shelves. I didn’t like the smell of library books. Someone else had used them. That bothered me.
But, I loved the school book orders. For some reason, buying books in this way was ok with Mom.
Books would come in paper bags with my name written in teacher cursive. Getting one of those brown bags at school was like getting an early Christmas present.
I loved biographies, mysteries, and stories of girls who lived in other countries. I remember their covers. I remember how the pages looked and felt. These were my books. Untouched by anyone but me. I could put my name in them and put them on my bookshelf.
I remember how they made me feel.
Owning books matters. When you own a book, it lives with you. You need to find space for it. It becomes family. It takes a reader to a higher level of commitment.
Yesterday we started our read aloud, A Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Lynda visited our classroom via YouTube and read the first chapter. I took notes along with my students. We stopped the video and talked. Backed it up a bit and had her re-read. They were spellbound.
Afterward, a student asks, “Where d’you get the book?”
Students always ask me that question. They want their copy to hold, page through, put their name in. I don’t blame them. I’d want it too.
Thank you, Lynda, for writing books we want to own. And, thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana Deb, Kathleen, Stacey and Tara for Two Writing Teachers blog. Read more slices here.