From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, John Scovill. John is a staff developer in St. George, Utah. He has taught 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades. He loves books and sharing ideas on how to engage readers and connect readers to books. John also loves to write and hopes to be an author someday. He is married to a teacher and has two small children.

I taught fifth grade two years ago. My goal before school started was to connect my students with authors and to bring authors into my classroom though Skype. I wanted to make my classroom more open and connected.

Through Twitter, I was introduced to the book Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder. I loved the student-made trailer. I had my students view the trailer and told them that this book was going to be our next read aloud. They were excited because the trailer hooked them, a book about children, divorce, and magic! 

The next day two students came up to me and said, “Mr. Scovill, my mom and dad and I went to the bookstore and we bought the book!” The excitement I had was contagious, I guess.

That night, I tweeted Laurel Snyder and told her that two of my students bought her book. A kid buying a hardcover book is a huge investment! She later tweeted me back saying that she wanted to write to these two students. I tweeted her my school address and a week later a letter came in the mail. I gave the letters to the students. It totally made their day. After they read the letter, they placed the letter neatly on their desks next to the stack of books they were reading.

Later that day, the two came up to me and said that they wanted to write back to the author. I said that that would be a great idea. They got paper and started to write. After they were done, they handed them to me to mail.

After school, I opened one of the letters and read it. My student wrote to the author saying that she really connected to the book and the main character because her parents were going through a divorce. I didn’t know this was happening.

This student felt open to tell Laurel what was happening in her family and how the book, Bigger Than a Breadbox, affected her and helped her. This connection, this heartfelt connection between a fifth grade girl and a book helped me to understand why I do what I do…to spread the words that Penny Kittle coined “BOOK LOVE”.

Thank you John for sharing this story. What a wonderful illustration of the powerful connections all readers can make with books.

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