I am particularly cheery today.
No, things are not noticeably different in my room. We still seem to spend equal time learning about Reading and Writing as we do learning about How to Be a Fourth Grader. I am improving my frustration-induced, patience-drained anger issues. I hope I’m not just “getting used to things.” We’ll see.
But I’m not here, today, to tell you about any of that.
I’m here to tell you why I’m cheery.
During the first week of school, as I acquainted myself with some of the more openly hostile members of my class, I met A. On that first day, as we perused our shelves for a book to start the year, he stated, quite plainly, “I don’t like reading. I don’t like chapter books. I only like books with pictures.” Hmm. Fine by me. I can work with that. I’ve actually already told you about him, back in View #1. Here’s what I wrote:
A little anecdote from Reading Workshop. I had a student who refused to read. He “didn’t like chapter books.” I gave him Squish and he devoured them. Lunch Lady and he consumed them. He checked out a chapter book at the library and stalled out. Too resistant to even read a page. So scared of anything without pictures and over 100 pages. So I sat with him and read the first two pages to him. The book was How to Survive Middle School, by Donna Gephart. Instantly, we meet a boy who is short, has a hamster, and loves TV. Well…guess what was true about the boy I was reading to? He got excited and agreed to read it for the rest of workshop. He took it home. Success! He came back to school not having read another page, and saying he just couldn’t do it. Almost a success. Almost. “I just don’t like reading,” he says. “Not true!” I reply. “You ate up Squish and Lunch Lady! That is reading! You do like reading, when you find the right books.” He is currently swallowing up Mal & Chad, and I’ll keep working him.
After he finished Mal & Chad, he sort of stalled out for a couple of days. I think he might have read Zita. Then came Banned Books Week, and I book talked Captain Underpants. He found it instantly appealing. Despite taking a liking to it, he often avoided getting started during independent reading time. Bad habit, I think. Once he got going, he was into it. He read the four I have in my room, and picked up more from the library.
I complimented him on the fact that several of them were well over 100 pages, and that one of them even broke 300. He seemed to be proud and surprised at himself, at the same time. “See, you do like reading, A. You can’t read as much as you have this year if you don’t like reading.” All books counted, A has read 14 books in about six weeks. Success? I am cautiously optimistic. Even with all that reading, though, he would often come in on Monday morning saying, “I didn’t read at all this weekend.”
So then, today. During reading, A needed a new book. He headed to the library for another Captain Underpants and came back with Book 7, Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers (I just had to write the whole title). Then he noticed the “Part 2.” Having not read Part 1, he was reluctant to start.
To the book bins!
I started with Spaceheadz, a book I had tried to give him before. He recalled trying it and feeling really confused, so he rejected it. Thinking about books with enough pictures to not turn him away, but maybe less than Captain Underpants, thinking about the fact that A is a smart kid who enjoys humor, thinking about Snap! I have to find the right book or this is going to take forever!, I picked up The Templeton Twins Have an Idea. I read him the first prologue, which just says “The end.” and then has “Questions for Review,” and part of the second prologue. I gave him some quick info about The Narrator and his cranky, snobby style. He seemed intrigued and amused. I let him go.
He came up to me several times, mostly to show me the third and fourth and fifth prologues. But the best came later.
We headed out to the buses. I gave customary “See you on Monday”s, and half-hugs and goodbyes. For A, I held out my hand for a high five. He gave it, and said, “You know I’ll be reading this weekend, Mr. Shaffer!”
I’m glad you’re with me.