Celebrate: Back to Books

Testing is over.
Can you hear the cheers?
And this week, I’m celebrating being in the classroom that reads.

Julio* walked up to me after read aloud and said, “Mrs. Harmatz, I’m sorry, but I have a little complaint.” He went on to explain that while he appreciated me, and didn’t mean to criticize, but he needed to point out that the number of books finished chart had not been updated.

Ah, yes. He was right. I’d forgotten. It’s funny what matters to students. I don’t make a big deal of this chart. It’s meant to make them aware of one aspect of their reading life. The goal is a book a week so the number of books read should match (or exceed) the number of weeks we have finished. And this week, week 34, the chart was inaccurate.

I’m glad Julio cared. He hasn’t. Until now. “I read a lot over the break, and I want my mom to see,” he told me. “She’s coming by on Friday to check the chart.”  Oh, I see. So I asked if he’d like to do the updating. He felt this was an excellent idea.

At lunch recess, he recruited another student to help. They organized the logs. And executed their plan: Julio read the name and number of books finished and Theresa* recorded. Every now and then I’d hear Julio remark on the number of books another student had read.  “Whoa! Carlos* has read 52 books.”  By recording all of the data, he not only noticed his work but the work of others. Maybe for the first time. Maybe he sees them in a new light. Maybe he sees his own possibility as a reader.

The chart hangs. Weeks pass. Numbers change.  I know it matters to competitive students and to those who read a lot. Apparently, it matters to those who those who find a renewed reading life. Maybe because of a new book, a new interest, more time to read, or some parental nudging. Whatever the reason, this week I celebrate a student complaint, a chart that has a new student caretaker, and to a back to books feeling in the classroom.

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