One Teacher’s Reading Life – A Belated Week #3 WRAD Post

Mar 9, 2014 by

During the day, my reading life centers on this library- our 3E classroom library. This past fall, when we were talking about 1,000 collections in math, one of my students suggested we count the books. How could I say no to that?! So, the children counted, and the total surprised even me. They tallied 3,163 books, and we didn’t even count the collections I keep behind the whiteboard for special projects! WOW! (In the picture, you can only see a portion of our collection.)

3E Library

At night, on weekends, and before school, my reading life largely centers on the reading apps on my mobile devices- my iPhone, iPad, and Kindle Paperwhite.

iPhone Books image

It’s 5:10 a.m., and I am in the kitchen starting to make my breakfast and lunch. But, before I so much as put water up for tea, I fire up my Audible or OverDrive app to listen to an audiobook. Currently, I am reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd on my Audible app. (Excellent!) I use OverDrive when I download books borrowed from my local library. (The last audiobook I borrowed was a biography about Abigail Adams.)

Starting the day with a story in my head, instead of jumping directly into the I-need-to-do list of the day, is calming.  Entering an alternate world where my focus is on the lives of other people is both entertaining and distracting. I am not ready to turn my focus to the day yet, and my audiobooks allow me that delicious mental escape while I physically get ready for the day.

When I arrive at school, my focus is on getting ready for my students. By 8:35 a.m., I wind down my prep activities and switch my Pandora station to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As my iPhone/iHome pump the strands of classical music into the classroom, my students begin arriving. They find me sitting by the rug and easel and reading a good book. They follow the routine established in the beginning days of school, and they get a book and read until the morning announcements signal the start of the school day. It’s a much more peaceful entry to the day than the routine of the last nine years where students waited in the hallway, seated along the walls, until the start of the day at 9:00. Giving up a chunk of planning time seemed like a pretty big personal sacrifice to create another opportunity for students to read more- an idea which was inspired by reading Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer last summer. The sacrifice turned into a gift. Rather than the “get-one-more-thing-done” feeling that used to precede meeting my students at the classroom door, I now get to read and preview great books for my classroom, and my students enter the classroom as their buses arrive or parents drop them off, unpacking and settling in at their own pace. By the time the morning announcements begin, there’s a “peaceful, easy feeling” that has settled on 3E.

As the day unfolds, there are daily opportunities for students to “Read to Self” as part of our Daily 5 approach. Every day includes time for read alouds, and every day closes with a chapter book that we are enjoying together. Currently, it’s Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Holy bagumba! We are loving Kate DiCamillo’s delicious, Newbery-award-winning story!

When the school day ends, it is hours before I can read for pleasure, although there is plenty of reading in my day in all kinds of ways- reading with students, reading what students have written, reading countless emails, reading professional materials such as teaching manuals, education articles, and education websites. Reading is a key part of my day.

It is often 8:00 p.m. when I finally call it a night on schoolwork, and I take out my iPad to unwind. I then check out social media and personal emails. I read through Facebook posts and make comments, clicking “Like” along the way. I log on to my Twitter and see what the teachers in my virtual network are tweeting, and participate in chats. This has become my go-to place for education info. I find out about new children’s books,  teaching strategies, technology for educational applications, as well as political issues impacting our schools.

Including social media in my reading diet, without getting lost in it is a challenge, but most nights, I break away from the endless feeds of Facebook and Twitter, and I submerge in a good book. Sometimes, I read on my iPad and know that it will seduce me to jump out of my book multiple times to check email or Facebook to see if my son is online (on the other side of the world in Japan). But, on other nights, I settle in with my Kindle Paperwhite, and I know that my entire focus will be on my book. Although there are many books that I still read in paper format, I am surprised to admit that in the last two years, I have made a conversion to digital that is nearly complete. I love that my library goes with me wherever I am, and I have even demoted an old, first-generation Kindle to be used in my classroom, which has only children’s titles downloaded to it. My iPhone has become a mobile, miniature library, which far surpasses my ability to carry a single paper book. Most recently, I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and like most of my digital books, it was read, in parts, on all of my mobile devices, sometimes on my iPad while sitting on the sofa, at other times, on my iPhone, sitting beside my husband at the bar of our favorite pub, and then at night, in bed, on my Kindle Paperwhite.

My reading life is a solitary experience. My reading life is a shared experience. My reading life includes being read to. My reading life includes reading to others. My reading life is books stacked by my desk and bedside. My reading life is books stacked invisibly in my phone. My reading life starts when I wake and ends when I fall asleep with my book, usually digital, resting on top of me. It is a good reading life.




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