Library Book Bears… and Bob

Book Bears is my library reading group.  These second and third graders read a book each month, and we have a discussion about the book.  We talk about everything.  Everything! Let me tell you, this group is terrific.  Everyone is different.  I sit back and watch as they talk and laugh.  The best part is that I’m included in the group.  Reading is a magnet.

In September, our first meeting of the year, everyone brings their favorite book they read over the summer.  Me, too.  I brought Bob, by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead.  Frankly, I think it’s the book of the year.  Fingers crossed for a Newbery nomination.

I picked a random page to read aloud, and I watched the children as the words went into their ears.  Oh, those words were hitting their brains.  They were wide-eyed and silent. Finally one child asked, “So who is Bob?”

I had hit the trigger to the brain.  They had no idea the trigger to the heart would come later.

Bob is the story of a girl, Livy, who travels with her family to visit her grandmother in Australia.  The problem is, Livy is eleven years old, and the last time she visited her grandmother in Australia, she was five.  She doesn’t remember much, and when she finds Bob in the closet, she certainly doesn’t remember him.

He remembers her.  And the story unfolds.  The back of the book cover reads:

  1. Counted to 987,654,321.  Six times.
  2. Built a Lego pirate ship.  Sixty-three times.  In the dark.
  3. Played chess against a Lego pirate monkey and still lost most of the time.
  4. Tried to do the hokey pokey like Livy had taught me, but there’s not much room to turn oneself around in this narrow closet without hitting the walls.
  5. Cried.  But only once.
  6. Okay, twice.  Each day.  But only for the first year.
  7. Thought of all the reasons that might explain why Livy didn’t come back for me.

The chapters alternate between Bob and Livy, in their own voices.  Each one has a story to tell, and reasons for remembering and not remembering.  The story line is gripping and real, and the writing is so well done that putting the book down is nearly impossible.

The Book Bears decided that at the end of each meeting they wanted me to read aloud Bob. And I am doing just that.  They know when it’s 4:30, time to finish and go home.  We decided together that at 4:25 I’d read Bob.  Five minutes.

Well, it hasn’t worked out that way.  By 4:20 the clock watchers get ready and start to bang the table, chanting “Bob!  Bob!  Bob!…” in the best of ways.  That is the most genuine testament to a good book!  Of course I keep reading, and those five minutes turn into fifteen or twenty, all in what feels like an instant.

Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats-


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.
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65 Responses to Library Book Bears… and Bob

  1. beetleypete says:

    Great to see you with the older kids, and to hear about that great book too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Jennie, this sounds like a wonderful story for not just children, but for fantasy loving adult readers too. 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you could tell! Bob is a real zombie. You will love the book. It was my favorite over the summer.

      • Jennie, it will be a must read for me, now that I can read again. I just had eye and lid surgery about 10 days ago, because I haven’t been able to read or write with any clarity for sometime now, In another week or two I will be able to read and write again without struggling to see the words. Karen 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        Oh, no! I hope that all will be well when you heal, Karen. The eyes are so important. You know that I only write about a book if it sends me over the moon. And if my library kids feel the same way, that’s even better. Happy reading, and thank you! 🙂

  3. Ritu says:

    What a lovely book club idea!

  4. Sarah says:

    That’s wonderful, Jennie! Bob’s now on my TBR list! 😄 And I love the quote by Yeats!! Happy week, my friend!

  5. Darlene says:

    Bob sounds like a great book. Must check it out. I love your Book Bears group!

  6. Opher says:

    Sounds like a great book Jennie. You do such a great job!!

  7. shortgirl says:

    Oh, this book sounds so sweet!

  8. Dan Antion says:

    That last quote is so important to remember. I love that they force to read.

  9. I loved this story and I think I’d love the book. What a wonderful energy you allow to form in your groups. “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats- My favorite quote.

  10. Great book idea, Jennie. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    My favorite part of school was when the teacher would read to us after lunch to settle us down. Now I listen to books to recreate that same wonderful sense of being warmed by another’s voice. Great post about sharing your love with kids.

    • Jennie says:

      People remember when their teachers read aloud. You certainly did. 🙂 When something sticks with you, that is powerful. That’s why I read aloud. And I’m so glad that you listen to books to keep those memories going. Just wonderful. Thank you, Elizabeth.

  12. My goodness, it sounds like an amazing book, Jennie. It makes me wish I had been there, sitting in the floor, listening with the kids. Mega hugs!

    • Jennie says:

      I wish you’d been there, too. It was (and is) just… well, like finding a fairy in the woods with the children. I could give you many more analogies, because that’s just what happens. Thank you, Teagan! 😀

  13. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another excellent post from that wonderful teacher, Jennie!

  14. I will need to get hold of that book. I know that two of my book-loving students would be drawn to “Bob”, like moths to flame.

  15. ksbeth says:

    this sounds like a wonderful book and a wonderful experience for all of you –

    • Jennie says:

      It is definitely a wonderful book. And the experience is THE best, fortunately something I get to live through most every day during chapter reading. Really.

  16. Norah says:

    Oh, Jennie. I love the sound of this book. I wish I was in your reading group. The back of the book reads beautifully. Oh, I feel so sad for Bob, alone in that closet and counting and wondering, and crying, and counting and wondering … It can’t have been much fun playing chess with a pirate monkey in the dark; and hokey pokey on his own when there’s no room to move … well – I’m ordering my copy now!

  17. There are so many amazing American children’s books I have never heard of, Jennie. I am so glad I met you and I can learn about the. This sounds wonderful.

    • Jennie says:

      Robbie, this is one book you will want to read aloud to your boys. Well, they could read it on their own, but you will love it as much as they will. There are so many American children’s books, and many I haven’t heard of either. I’d also recommend The Wild Robot. It is outstanding. Thank you for your kind words, Robbie. I am so glad I met you, too!

  18. New hand-sell! I love having new books to push! Thank you for this wonderful suggestion!

  19. I love reading children’s books so much. We should all do it so that we never forget what it is like to be a child. I took a class in college on children’s literature, and it saved me from the dull, dry reading I was dealing with. Adult books should also never be so dry that they kill our spirits, and teachers, even at the adult level, should also never make the subjects so dry. Archaeology should be an exciting subject, but when I was in school studying that, the teachers made it so (pardon the pun) dead, and our writing papers so impersonal that I am amazed that I got a degree. Out in the fields it was more alive, but even there it lacked so much that could have been. I am glad there are people out there trying to breathe life back into education.

    • Jennie says:

      My entire schooling was filled with dull books (Moby Dick, Beowulf) and I never found a passion for reading. Pretty sad. Thank goodness I have found this now, and spread that to others. It’s never too late. Yes, that class in children’s literature is a ray of sunshine in reading. There are so many good books. My job is to read every one with a voice that can light a fire of reading. Thank you, Anne.

      • Yes, the reader is everything when you are reading out loud to the children. I have heard readers who are so dull that it is hard to believe any story is worth hearing. It takes a genuine love of reading aloud to children and others, and a genuine love of the stories you are reading as well.

      • Jennie says:

        Well said, Anne!

  20. sjhigbee says:

    I love the sound of this book, Jenny – thank you for sharing:))

  21. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, a terrific review/description of the book … I’m hooked and I’m sure you can hear my voice calling out ‘Bob’! I will just have to read this, sounds amazing! How wonderful these older children are still all keen to read and it’s fantastic that ‘Reading is a magnet’ for them all. Long may it be so.

  22. L. Marie says:

    This book sounds delightful, Jennie! I promptly added it to my wish list.

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