There are days when I am deeply saddened by teachers who truly seem to believe that their students do not want to read. Maybe these teachers have become discouraged by students who say that they do not like to read. Or maybe in this time of focusing on standards, we have failed to show both teachers and students the power of match-making the right book to the right child. I believe that students do want to read, but many students do not know where to start, or how to pick a book. Unfortunately, I think there are many teachers who also do not know where to start or how to connect students to books. Those of us who do know how this works needs to find ways to inspire our colleagues to see or experience the magic.
I also believe that authors have an ability to spark students' interest in reading in a way that no one else can inspire them. One way that I seek to bring books alive for students is by facilitating interactions between authors and students.
Recently, we had the wonderful opportunity to host Natalie Lloyd at three of our elementary schools. She is as magical as her debut novel, A Snicker of Magic. The students could hear the excitement and passion she has in her voice.
A few days later I received this email....
Alyson, I had such a wonderful morning here at Jackson that I just have to share a little with you since you were instrumental in making it happen.
I visited Ms. S's 4th grade class this morning to present three copies of A Snicker of Magic to the class, and as I made my announcement the class erupted with cheers and applause. Ms. S informed me that one of her students who has not been much of a reader in the past actually purchased a copy of the book himself and has been busy reading it. Each of the fourth and fifth grade classes has a long waiting list of students eager to read the book. What a fabulous way to start the day! I actually had chills down my spine! This is remarkable, and I am so very grateful to you for making it possible.
The only other time I have seen anything like this at Jackson was after James Burks visit. As I mentioned to you before, the kids are still lining up to read Bird and Squirrel and asking about the sequel, but that's another email, and I am out of time now.
Letters like this make my day. It reminds me that all of the work involved in setting up an author's visit and in preparing students is truly worth it. It also reminds me that each of the teachers involved in this visit will have a new understanding of the power of an author and a book to help students discover the love of reading.
Note: I promise to get that post pulled together with more information about Natalie Lloyd's school visits.