From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Karen Jameson. Karen is a third grade teacher at Peachland Elementary School in Newhall, California and children’s author with a passion for children’s literature. She has an MA in Education with a specialty in Language and Literacy. As an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI), Karen enjoys attending writing classes and events with fellow authors. Writing for children, baking, and exploring quaint bookstores are some of her favorite past times. She’s a lifelong resident of California, where she lives with her husband and family. Recently, she’s been published in AppleSeeds magazine. She was chosen as an honored educator in the 2014 Horace Mann Teach it Forward program. 

Karen Jameson

Under the verdant canopy of a great oak, my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Story (yes, that was her real name), drew us into the imaginative world of James and the Giant Peach. Her daily readings breathed life into James, Aunt Sponge, Aunt Spiker, and a bevy of charming and quirky insects. It was nothing short of spellbinding.

Of course, I couldn’t get to the bookmobile fast enough to check out James and the Giant Peach! Next came the Little House books, Henry Huggins, Charlotte’s Web, Homer Price, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mrs. Story had given me a bad case of book fever and I never wanted to recover. I still haven’t!

Now, as a third grade teacher, I have the privilege and joy of continuing Mrs. Story’s legacy. I’m the lucky one who gets to sit in the teacher chair and choose the daily read- alouds. I get to select the books that will take my students on amazing journeys, make them giggle or sigh, touch their hearts, and lure them into the library hungry for more. I get to be a book whisperer and I absolutely love it!

I believe that now, more than ever, teachers need to preserve the time honored tradition of read-alouds. They need to devote time, each and every day, to reading literature for the pure and simple enjoyment of it. Not for the purpose of meeting state standards or fulfilling curricular requirements. But rather, time to discover, connect with stories, and be caught up in their wonder. Reading time without the pressure of a quiz, or having to write a report, or analyze a theme. Reading for fun.

Along with read-alouds, I provide students with book boxes to keep their self-selected silent reading books at the ready. Allowing students to choose their own reading materials (and honoring those choices) is vital to creating lifelong readers. Weekly trips to the school library, informal book chats, and having a literature rich classroom all add up to seeing reading as a joy, not a chore.

For some children, school experiences will serve as their only exposure to books. So, I open that window of opportunity wide every afternoon and fill it with unforgettable characters, amazing authors, tantalizing plots, and glorious books. They sit spellbound on the rug and soak it all in, then beg for “just one more chapter.” I stop for now, with the promise of more tomorrow. Day by day they fall in love with books. With any luck, it will be a lifelong case of book fever. And I hope they never find a cure.

Karen and her class were featured in the April 2014 issue of AppleSeeds magazine.

Thank you Karen for sharing about your passion and your successes!

No Responses to “From the Office of the Future of Reading”

  1. yearn to learn

    Thanks for sharing the importance of this for making children “fall in love with books”. It wonderful to have a list of your favorite 3rd gr read alouds from this year. Is there a way you keep track of them? Thanks!

    • Karen Jameson

      Thanks for your kind words! To answer your question, I don’t have a set list. My selections change from year to year depending on my student’s interests. Some of my “go to” books include: Kate DiCamillo’s books (Because of Winn Dixie & The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), Beverly Cleary’s books (Ramona, Age 8, Ribsy), The World According to Humphrey series, Charlotte’s Web, Tomie DePaola’s books, Chris Van Allsburg’s books, Patricia Polacco books, and a variety of nonfiction and poetry selections. I throw in some new choices each year. This year was Call Me Oklahoma, by Miriam Glassman. The kids loved it! We wrote letters to Ms. Glassman and received signed books in the mail! What a thrill!

  2. Alexis O

    Yes! Absolutely spot-on, Karen! Reading aloud to kids is the single most important thing we can do to help them acquire a love of language and stories of real and fictional worlds. Congratulations on your teaching honor and first publication, too. Your students are lucky to have you! – ALEXIS

    • Karen Jameson

      Thanks, Alexis! Your book, The Kite That Bridged Two Nations, was one of my read alouds this year. What a treat!

  3. Joan

    Ah, Karen, the lucky students in your class–you are making a difference in their lives and giving them such a lasting gift!

    • Karen Jameson

      Thanks, Joan! I’m looking forward to adding your new poetry book to my class library.

  4. Pam Ripling

    Reading your words made me wish I was back in elementary school, being read to by such an enthusiastic teacher. Your passion for literacy is inspiring. Congrats on your recent and future successes, my friend!