I opened my closet to get out my bag.
“Look at all those books.”
“Can I see that one?”
“C* come here and look at this?”
“It’s like book heaven in there.”
It’s true. Every cabinet in my classroom is packed with books. Books for a little later. For the next unit. Like gifts stashed away.
I bring books out of the closet bit by bit. They are snatched up. Waiting lists are all over the room. Students know who has which book and they complain when someone takes too long.
My students are book hounds. They horde books in their desks. They cheer for reading time. They sneak books. And I’ve found getting 34 students to stop reading to learn a new strategy is best accomplished with a beautiful book to read aloud.
Yesterday, we finished The Tiger Rising. The silence was punctuated by the occasional, “Nooo.” We paused to think and write at the end of each chapter. To connect to our ideas. And then to talk about all of the images and details Kate DiCamillo left for us.
Students paired in teams of two shared their thinking. The chatter went on and on.
“I think the anger was the key to opening the suitcase.”
“Yeah… I think it’s about the anger. It’s like when he hit his dad. It was like the pressure was so big he had to let it out.”
“Like a volcano. Boom!”
“I think the weather was like depression. So gloomy. And then it rained. Like tears. Like the pressure was too big for the clouds to hold.”
“But then the sun came out. That’s so weird. It was like the funeral. But different. This time it wasn’t sad. It is like new again.”
They went on and on. And then, time was up.
“I can’t believe it’s over.”
This is the way it should always be. Begging. For. More.
I told them, and myself, not to worry, The Tiger Rising will live with you. You will always remember Rob and Sistine and the tiger. I believe this is true. Just like Fern and Wilbur live in me. Characters I met and loved as a young person.
We had to move on, but not until we write to capture this moment as best we can.
Silence again. Furious writing all around.
And when the time was up, I heard the familiar, Noooo! We just don’t want to let it go.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.