Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thank you, Jason Reynolds

We all have this student in our classrooms. You know the one I'm talking about. He is frequently heard saying things like:
"I HATE reading!"
"Reading is BORING!"
"I don't CARE if this is reading class...I don't WANT to read!"

I did book talks.
I performed read alouds. 
I allowed students to "speed date" books and add titles to their To Be Read lists. 
I gave them TIME to read the books that they chose. 
(And just for the sake of full disclosure, I MIGHT have repeated, "Unless you are on fire or trapped under something heavy, do not attempt to move from your seat" a few times.)

And after months of doing everything short of standing on my head to engage this student, when independent reading time rolled around, he raised his hand and asked..."Can I go to the bathroom?" 


So, with track season upon us, I did a book talk on Ghost by Jason Reynolds. (I read aloud the part where Ghost HAS to run for the very first time). While the book was still in my hand, this self-proclaimed "reading hater" said, "I want to read that one!" We shared reading together; he wrote in his journal; he caught me up when I asked, "OK, remind me what was happening last time we read." He discussed the book with visitors to our room. And when he finished, he exclaimed, "This is my favorite book!" Seizing the moment, I did a short book talk of All American Boys. After just a brief description, he asked to go the library. Unfortunately, there were no copies available, but he came back to the room with When I Was the Greatest, recommended by our Library Media Specialist, and another title which he had chosen for himself. 

Next year this student will not remember what his Lexile is, and he will not be concerned with his score on the state reading test. But he WILL remember his experience with Ghost, which he now calls his "favorite", and he is looking forward to reading Patina when it comes out. 

Jason Reynolds, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.💗

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