From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please help me welcome our guest blogger for today, Kim Campbell. Kim spends her days with fifth graders in Colorado, in her seventh year of teaching. She’s a fan of educators modeling reading and writing lives for their students. To that end, she has joined no fewer than three book clubs this year, which she loves…even though she longer sleeps.
Kim Campbell

Last week, a former student surprised me with a bag of books from home to donate to my collection. Among the treasures was a copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a favorite read aloud of one of my colleagues, which I gave to him.

He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to suggest that he raffle off that extra copy to his students. I’ve witnessed the excitement that raffles can produce this year as I’ve used them to help decide who will be the first to read new classroom books such as Jeffrey Brown’s Star Wars: Jedi Academy and Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk. It’s an idea that a teacher I met at NerdCampMI shared with me in July.

So much of teaching is about paying it forward, especially when it comes to books and reading. I will always appreciate Donalyn Miller, a pay-it-forward pro, for her 2009 book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.

I love that it is still finding new readers. At a recent staff meeting, our librarian had a copy and asked if I had read it. She was eager to dive in. Another colleague couldn’t locate her copy last month and borrowed mine. I plan to do more sharing of that book, and Donalyn’s follow-up, Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits, when it is published in November.

Paying it forward often helps us to see possibilities. I am one of maybe a handful of teachers at my school who is on Twitter. I’ve been talking about it so much since I started using it in June that my principal is now saying she should get an account. For me, it is an invaluable resource. Of course the lesson plans, technology tips, and book recommendations are all great. But it’s also the “can-do” attitude generated by the teachers and librarians online (in their blogs, too) that helps you feel as though you can make things happen, and not just in your own classroom.

When I asked if we could have our first ever author visit this year, for example, I felt propelled forward by the experiences and enthusiasm of those I have connected with online. As it turns out, we will be hosting Lynda Mullaly Hunt in February when she’s in town for CCIRA, a state literacy conference. I can’t wait for the students to get their hands on Lynda’s thoughtful book, One for the Murphys, and to have her inspire them as writers.

Our efforts to connect students with books have to include supporting each other with the resources to do so. I’ve decided to create a list that includes the ways I want to help my school with this important work. Next up for me is persuading my building leaders to add book talks to our staff meetings. What’s next on your list?

What’s next on my list, Kim, is reading Donalyn’s new book! I’m also going to follow you on Twitter so I can learn more ways to model good reading and writing behavior for the young kids in my life.