Slice of Life: A Book of My Own

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.

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15 thoughts on “Slice of Life: A Book of My Own

  1. I have this disease. The one in which we cannot leave any bookstore empty handed. My parents passed this down to me. Their house is full of book shelves. My husband recently warned that I buy too many books and I can’t take tax credit for all of them. At school, we are having a book fair this week. Don’t tell him I spent $30. It’s charity, right?

  2. I remember the first book I ever bought from a Scholastic order, in the early 1970’s. It was a nonfiction book about magnets and came with a small magnet. It was a treasure!

  3. Every time I read one of your posts I am struck by how thoughtful you are. You just observe, notice and think about so many things that it would be easy to take for granted, or not stop and ponder. You always get me thinking. I so agree about owning books- it is special. I have memories of acquiring certain books, reading them, knowing I didn’t have to give them back, loaning them out, tucking them away and finding them years later and then remembering when we first met.

  4. Book orders were my favorite thing as a student and teacher. I still have a few of my books I got as a kid from book orders. Would you believe $.25 and $.35 for a book? It was hard to come up with that money, but luckily I could always get one book. I love the way you bring kids into books.

  5. Kathy Collins once recommended talking about how you came to own a book as part of your book introduction. Modeling how to choose a book to read is important, but kids also need to hear about the thrill of finding an unexpected treasure in a bookstore. How lucky your students are to have you as a reading role model!

  6. Great post. I believe in the power of book ownership, as well. Boy, we live it at my house! Books to the ceiling! Every room has a stack. And, at school, I constantly give books away. I teach in a Title I school and many of our students don’t own their own books. We do big giveaways for the winter holidays and at the end of the school year. I display the books in the gym or library and the students get to ‘book shop.’ Allowing them to choose their own is critical to their import. Additionally, kids can come to me at any time to pick books from the boxes of giveaways in my office. I love it! Recently, I saw a student in the hall who was visibly upset. When I asked him what was wrong, he shrugged me off. Then, I offered for him to come to my office to pick books. His mood immediately changed and we were able to spend some time talking books and life in general. Books are therapy!

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