The Library – Reading and Book Bears – Part 2

In Part 1, I introduced how reading aloud at the last few minutes of Book Bears became a ‘thing’, something very popular with the children.  That year the book was “Summer of the Monkeys”.  A few minutes of reading aloud turned into ten and fifteen minutes, often more.  This has since become a mainstay.

A few years later, the book I read aloud after Book Bears was “Bob”.  Part 2 tells the story:

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 were 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 are Bob’s words.  While he was in the closet waiting for Livy.  It 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.

I only read the books I really love to my Book Bears.  This one is a winner!

The Book Bears decided that at the end of each meeting they wanted me to read aloud “Bob.” And I did 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 didn’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-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Book Review, chapter reading, children's books, Diversity, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, literacy, reading aloud and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to The Library – Reading and Book Bears – Part 2

  1. beetleypete says:

    Those Book Bears are so lucky to have you, and they know it too! They will always remember you, Jennie. What a legacy that is.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I love that you can read aloud to the children still. I can see myself sitting at your feet listening to the words and soaking them up. What a delightful experience for those very fortunate children.

  3. Darlene says:

    “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats, What a terrific quote and you certainly have lit many fires over the years. This book sounds like another winner.

  4. beth says:

    this sounds wonderful

  5. Dan Antion says:

    You are a true hero, Jennie. No wonder these kids love you.

  6. quiall says:

    A book like Bob can be the trigger. The trigger that begins the wonderful journey of reading!

  7. Love these reading Bears posts.

  8. Jim Borden says:

    Bob sounds like a winner. I like all the numbers 🙂

  9. Enchanting times Jennie! Will look out for Bob!

    Sandra Pilmoor ________________________________

  10. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.

  11. bosssybabe says:

    I love that there’s a reading group for this age! I am an avid reader but that’s not bc I loved reading as a kid… In fact I don’t think i ever finished a book until high school… I never saw an example of someone having a love of books and there was no emphasis on literature in my house.. I only grew to love books after reading a book that touched me deeply!

    • Jennie says:

      Sadly, once children learn how to read parents stop reading aloud to them, yet they still need to hear stories and learn about the world. That’s why I love my library group. I was like you growing up- not a reader at all. What was the book that touched you deeply?

      • bosssybabe says:

        That’s so true, I never thought about the fact that kids when they can read on their own, their parents stop reading aloud to them!

        I read a book in high school for a class report and it was called, “In Search of April Raintree.” It was a coming of age story about a Métis girl trying to understand her roots and who she is.

      • Jennie says:

        Thanks, Jen. I will have to look up that book. Isn’t it wonderful that books can do so much for someone?

        BTW I’m posting my favorite Christmas books, and Charlotte will love these if you get to the library soon.

  12. petespringerauthor says:

    Sounds delightful, Jennie. I am unfamiliar with Bob. How often do you meet with your group? Can you describe your typical process with your library group? How long? How often? Do the kids sign up, or is it open to whoever shows up? Do you reach chapter books typically? Do the kids ever read, or is it meant to be a read-aloud time? Lots of stopping and starting to discuss things from the book?

    I’m asking because our library finally opened up, and I’m going to see about starting something like this. I was just curious about learning your process. Feel free to send me a note or leave your response here.

    Thanks, Pete

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you asked! I will email you details, so that this comment won’t be too long. You will love doing this, Pete. Best of all, it’s wonderful for children.

  13. “Bob, Bob, Bob!!” *grinning from ear to ear*

  14. That must have been fantastic and moving to hear them all banging and calling for, “BOB, BOB,BOB!!”

    They’re so lucky to have you.

    • Jennie says:

      Oh my! You have no idea. At first I was worried that the librarian would appear wagging a finger because it was so loud. But she didn’t, so I could smile and feel glad that I had brought Bob to the children. All that banging and chanting is as good as it gets. Thank you for your kind words, Deborah!

      For your grandson, this book is a winner!

  15. Wow! What a meeting! Congratulations to this great club. Sorry, for the long delay, Jennie! Let me wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 🙂 xx Michael

  16. simi says:

    I loved this!!!! I have been trying to get my kids into books. Being a single parent I always fail to follow up. And ending up with piles of unread material… This group thing is a great idea.. And I am definitely going to try this maing my kids group!!! Thank you soooo much!!!

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