So Let’s Talk About Reading…Shall We?

I’m passionate about reading.

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I get fired up when I talk about books.

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This is my thing.

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And I’ve embraced it with my whole heart.

 

img_6973This deep-seated love of books was given to me for a reason.

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This I firmly believe.img_6939

I also firmly believe that I make the WEIRDEST faces when I talk. Do I just look ridiculous all the time?

For a long time I thought this passion was given to me so that I could teach from a very real place about reading. As an English teacher I had my students embark an a forty book reading quest at the beginning of each year thanks to the fabulous book by Donalyn Miller called The Book Whisperer.

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The program was fabulous, and it worked not because Donalyn Miller gave fabulous instructions for how to implement it (although she did). It worked because I BELIEVED in it. My kids knew that I LOVED books, that the books I recommended to them, I’d read myself. I was a believer in the transformative power of books, and it gave them permission to be one too.

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Some kids thought I was nuts. Some parents thought I was nuttier, but gosh guys, my kids READ and some of them, not all, but some, became readers the year that they spent in my classroom.

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And that was big stuff guys! Because kids who read…who enjoy reading…are going to be more successful than the kid who doesn’t. And that was the key to the way I taught. I wanted my kids, (and yes, I called them my kids, because for that hour every day they WERE mine) to read because they enjoyed it. NOT because they could successfully trace the plot on some chart or tell me what a character’s motivation was.

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And I hope to return to the classroom someday soon, but until then, I’ve been able to put that passion into writing books and recently, talking about books in front of kids again.

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School visits are HUGE for middle grade authors like myself. Our readers aren’t on social media, they aren’t reading book blogs or following people on instagram that post beautiful pictures of books. They are at school, and I have loved being able to talk to and work with kids again. I think being an author is a lot like being a grandparent. I think all the kids are fabulous, they can do no wrong in my book. I get to talk to them, interact with them, get them excited, and then I leave and don’t have to grade any homework. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Another beautiful thing has begun landing in my inbox, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. These two came just this week…

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I read both of these, grinned from ear to ear, turned to my husband and said “My people are finding me!”

Which is incredibly cheesy, but so true. As a seventh grade teacher, my biggest challenge was getting kids who had incorrectly labeled themselves as someone who DIDN’T read to give books a chance. I am a firm believer that you just have to get the RIGHT book in a kids hand to turn them around. That’s all it takes, just one book. And to hear that MY BOOK was that book…well it doesn’t get much better than that. At least not in my world.

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Instilling a love of reading is so so important, a lesson I’ve taken to heart in my own home. One of my favorite things about being a parent as been introducing my daughter to books.

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Books are magical, and I am the gatekeeper of the magic right now.

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When my son takes a nap, we hurry into my husband’s big leather arm chair, grab a stack of books and a blanket, and read until he wakes up. I have a cup of coffee, she gets a sucker, and we “get all cozy” as she describes it. It’s my favorite time of the day.

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She will grow up associating reading with being cozy and loved. And this is a gift she will cherish for a lifetime. I know this, because my mom did it for me, and I will forever be grateful for it.

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I am who I am, because I was a reader first. Reading changes people at a core level, makes them into someone they wouldn’t have been without books. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t been a reader, but I certainly wouldn’t be doing this…

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Which is something that I absolutely love.

So go get “all cozy” and read with your kids today. Even if they are “too old” to be read to. Because, really, they aren’t.

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