By, Jenn HayhurstOn Thursday March 3, 2016 #G2Great hosted a chat that began a conversation about the importance of independent reading. This blog post is dedicated to anyone who is “holding tight” to this work, either at home or in the classroom. It is for those of us who believe that literacy reveals a path of growth and self discovery through text.
The following Saturday morning, I was part of an incredible team of teachers from my district, @SCCentralSD . We went to an event sponsored by a local organization called @TheBookFairies. This amazing nonprofit opened their doors to teachers everywhere and we were able to shop for free books!
Imagine all of us giving our time, the Book Fairies volunteers and so, so many teachers. I am struck by the generosity of amazing people who gave up a gorgeous Saturday to build robust classroom libraries for students to enjoy:
Many people were telling touching stories about the readers and writers in their classrooms. There was not a mention of levels. Wise teachers value levels because they are an important tool that informs instructional practices. Levels are not to be mistaken with labels that hinder a love for independent reading:
We were all swapping stories as well as books. You could hear teachers excitedly saying, “Oh this is so great! Jorge is going to be so happy!” “Look what I found.” “I can’t believe I found this book, my mother used to tell us this story!” and “I’m so excited I can’t wait to get to school on Monday!”
It was quite a sight seeing everyone loading books into boxes, crates and bags. One teacher could barely close her trunk for all the books she and her colleague were taking back to school. We need to share our stories about the lengths teachers will go to promote literacy. We need to encourage our students to become connected so that they can share their love for independent reading.
When we work together, we are creating a community with a purpose for reading. We are being the change we hope to see in education. Literacy changes lives. Our dedication and generosity to that effort is the flip side of the urgency we all feel. For these reasons, teachers are opening up their classroom libraries and giving free access to books because that’s one way to keep students at the center of all that we do.
Our message is clear. We understand that now more than ever we need to “hold tight” to independent reading. Think of a classroom library as a garden, and every book a child reads is like a seed. Narratives and informational texts take root and grow to fill students’ heads with stories and ideas. This becomes our context to teach children how to read. But even more than that, we are growing a love for literacy that will last a lifetime.