Book Bears

Book Bears started yesterday.  It’s my library reading group, mostly second graders.  Yesterday we met each other and  shared our favorite summer read.  ‘Meet and Greet’, with books.  Some children were nervous.  Some were outgoing.  I could see a wide disparity with their books, from Harry Potter, to Frog and Toad, to an American Girl Doll book.  A typical gathering of children.  Thirty minutes later, we were bonded at the hip, BFFs.  This is what happened:

I greeted every child, making sure I said something important to each one; Haley and I had the same earrings, Jonah went to sleep-over camp this summer, and so on.  Then I passed out the snack, walking around the table to every child.  My conversation went something like this:

“I love books.  This is so cool to share our favorite books.  But I have to tell you something.  When I was your age” .. pause

“You didn’t read books?”

“You’re right.  I was a terrible reader.  Are you ready for this?  Guess how many times I went to a library when I was your age?”

No guesses.  Stunned faces.  Interested faces.

“One!  That’s awful.  And now I love books.”

I immediately made a connection with the children.  They knew I was real.  They knew I understood.  And they knew I loved books.  As they ate their snack I said, “You eat snack and I’ll go first.  I’ll tell you about my favorite book this summer, Summer of the Monkeys.  It might be hard for you to read, but your parents could read it aloud to you.”

I showed them the cover, told them about living in the country a long time ago, how the monkeys had escaped… on and on.  I was ready to give each child a turn to tell us about their book.  Haley said, “Can you read us some of the book?”  All eyes were glued and nodding with Haley.

So, I played ‘The Stop Game’.  I fanned the pages until the children said, “STOP!”  Then I read that page.  We played ‘The Stop Game’ twice.  You could have heard a pin drop.  Oh, how they loved hearing me read aloud those words.  Finally a child asked, “Could you read us this book every time we come?”

Children crave hearing stories and books read aloud.  Even the best of my Book Bear readers – Nora, my Harry Potter reader – begged to hear more.

Hearing the words is carved into our DNA.  Oral history and storytelling goes back to the beginning of mankind.  It is natural, beloved. Words are magical.  Once a child is a proficient reader, s/he becomes the captain of the ship of words.  Then, all those words and their magic is the foundation for learning.

Every Book Bear shared their favorite summer read.  They read aloud a favorite part of their book.  Reading in front of a group of strangers when you are in second grade is uncomfortable if not terrifying.  I was so proud of my Book Bears!

Our first book for October will be The Year of  Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes.  It’s a Newberry Honor book.  I know the book (terrific is an understatement) and I can’t wait for my Book Bears to get together and discuss this book.  Life is good!

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in books, chapter reading, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, reading aloud, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Book Bears

  1. Afzal Moolla says:

    deeply inspiring, dear friend.

  2. Afzal Moolla says:

    Peace, Love, and Equality for All ✌✊

  3. Ritu says:

    Sounds like such fun!!!

  4. Victo Dolore says:

    I wish we had something like this around here. 🙂

  5. Those lucky kids learning so much and loving storytelling, listening, and so engaged. What an incredible teacher you are! Karen 🙂

  6. I want to clone you for every class on the planet!

  7. Mary Kay says:

    Another home run, Jennie! Great inspiration and a reminder for all of us who are working to connect children to the power of stories.

  8. John Kraft says:

    A big thumbs up to you.

  9. We could certainly use more teachers like you, Jennie. Sounds fun!

  10. balroop2013 says:

    You are a loving teacher! Love you for bonding so well with kids.

  11. Darlene says:

    Sounds like you are happy to be back at work! I just returned from visiting 6 cities in Canada and reading from my latest Amanda Travels book to children in schools, libraries and bookstores. I agree they love to be read to and asked for more. Even though it was a tiring schedule, I found it energizing. Keep up the good work.

  12. Being read to is something we never outgrow. Maybe that’s why audible does so well. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      I think you are absolutely right, Marlene. I tell the children that the words go into their ears and then into their brain so they can make the pictures in their head. That’s exactly what we adults do, too. And, we love it.

  13. Jennie, this is marvelous. I hope to hear more about it as it goes along. It struck a chord with me as soon as you said second grade. I didn’t begin to learn to read until then. My mother had no interest in my education, and it took that long for anyone to realize that I couldn’t read. So it took awhile for me to catch up. What you are doing is so important. ❤ Hugs on the wing.

    • Jennie says:

      Your mother mirrors mine, Teagan. We were cut from the same cloth, as my grandmother would say. Incidentally, she was the one who read to me and told stories. Not often, but it made a huge impact. I am still catching up, reading so many books I missed along the way. It’s a labor of love and my lifelong goal. Really. Second grade is enormous in reading. I adore Book Bears. I have been given a gift to make a difference, even in the smallest of ways. These children let me know. 😊 Best to you!

  14. reocochran says:

    This was such a warm and welcoming way to begin the Book Bears group, Jennie. Your open mannered personality really breaks the ice! 😊
    I like that you taught them the “stop game” already!! 💞 📚

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Robin. It was a good icebreaker, and I didn’t expect to play the Stop Game. Go with the flow, and it was just the right thing to do. Happy weekend to you!

  15. Dan Antion says:

    This sounds like such a good time, Jennie. I love the way you work to connect with the children. You bring them closer to an adult level but you’re not afraid to meet them at a child’s level. I can see why they enjoy coming back.

  16. Norah says:

    Life is good for your very lucky Book Bears. What a lovely group. I look forward to hearing more about your reading. “The Stop Game” sounds like fun.

  17. What fun, Jennie. Your Book Bears are going to have a great year. 🙂

  18. This is so impressive, Jennie! You have a beautiful way with children and you introduce them to a marvelous world and the benefits of shared reading experiences and points of view. Kudos!

  19. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Book Bears love sharing their reading experiences with each other and their gifted teacher, Jennie. Please, read on and discover why…

  20. Opher says:

    Fabulous – John Fioravanti reblogged this. I’m so grateful.

  21. Your students are fortunate to have you! 🙂

  22. How wonderful, Jennie. I used to read My Naughty Little Sister to my Sunday School children and they absolutely loved it.

  23. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is another wonderful post by a truly gifted teacher!

  24. dgkaye says:

    You’re a born teacher Jennie. You certainly have the gift to connect in real time with your young readers. 🙂 x

  25. What a pleasure it was to read about how you relate to your students! Certainly snacks and reading go hand in hand — food for the mind and food for the tummy. xo

  26. Sounds like you and your Book Bears are off to a great start! 🙂

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