1.08.2010

Sibling Assignment # 115 : Best Book That Changed My Thinking


I gave the sibling assignment this  week. Tell about the best book you've read recently that helped change your thinking about something. I will link my siblings' posts when they are completed.


I do read a lot of books. I read books with my students, I read professional books, writing books, and books for pleasure. I read cookbooks, the Bible, poetry books, and humor books. I love the feel of books, the words in books, and the sight of books sitting on my shelf.

I love everything Anna Quindlen writes . I love her essay collections, her novels, her advice books, but the book that recently changed my thinking was her thin volume  How Reading Changed My Life. I had read this book once before a few years ago, but during my studies this year with my National Board Certification program I reread it.  I wanted to dig deeper into knowing my students, their likes and dislikes. I am also exploring their habits as readers.

My middle school students love to read. They get to start the period each day reading, but many days ask for more time. Do you realize how hard it is to say, " I'm sorry- I need to ask you to close a book that has taken you to another time, another place because we really need to look at literary elements to prepare for our state test?"  I  build in literature that I feel is important for students to be exposed to, but during that time at the first of the period I think choice reading is important. Students'  lives are busy. They often don't have time to sit for hours in the evening and read the latest Twilight book or the most recent Wimpy Kid book. I build in that time. I did have to draw the line recently when I realized that the thick hardbound book one student was studying intently was a very fancy catalog from Cabela's. " Sorry... not enough text!," I reminded him.

By rereading Quindlen's book I was reminded of why my students like to read. She has many big ideas,  but one that stayed with me is this.  Quindlen states, " A book provides what it always has: a haven." She goes on to explain difficulties during the early years as a mother and what saved her sanity was books.  She went on to say " Reading continues to provide an escape from a crowded house into an imaginary room of one's own." This changed my thinking about my students. I think when life gets a bit crazy, when the house might be crowded, when somebody picks on them before class that reading does provide that haven. It made me realize how important that time may be in class. 

" Perhaps we are the world's great nomads, if only in our minds," Quindlen goes on to remind us. My students live in a remote area. Some of them have never traveled in a plane, others have not yet seen an ocean, and none of them have traveled to a foreign country except Canada.  I have realized by rereading this book that books do take all of us to places we have never been. Fantasy books grab the attention of many of my students as they create whole new worlds in their minds.  She continues by reminding us that, " Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."

I want to encourage my students to keep reading. I want books to be a haven, a view into another world, or  into another person's head. I want books to feel like home. I am glad I reread Anna Quindlen's book.


The book ends with a series of great book lists. The last page has the following list. There are still some on this list I am going to add to my growing list of books to read.

10  Books I Just Love to Read, and Always Will
by Anna Quindlen
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Group by Mary McCarthy
The Blue Swallows by Howard Nemerov
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

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1 comment :

  1. Excellent thoughts and reminders! I usually start my class periods with some kind of free-writing, but after reading this, I just might have to give some time to reading =)

    I love Anna Quindlen, too...

    ReplyDelete

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