I actually started this book on President’s Day. What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House is by Tevi Troy. It’s one of those non-fiction books that you can read a bit and then put down. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve learned quite a bit about presidents and their impact on popular culture and media. It goes without saying I’m most interested in the chapters that speak to presidential reading.
What are you reading today?
I remember a few years ago, I had a really unruly class, with a capital UN.
Part of the issue was that every single one of them had a reading disability. They had IEPs, ILPs, RTI plans, dyslexia, and ADD (with the H and without). By 7th grade they thought reading was something that made them look dumb. The old saying proved true: they would rather look bad than stupid. So they acted out. They tested me. I knew I needed to find some common ground, something that would keep me from pulling my hair out and throwing one of them out the window (I kid!). I found it when I pulled out Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements and started to read aloud.
It was like I had a magic wand.
Students sat and listened. They engaged. They asked questions! Everyone of them wanted to know how this kid had turned invisible. They speculated about what they would do if they woke up that way. I was grossed out that he walked around Chicago with bare feet. It was my favorite time of the day and it only cost the price of a paperback.
I remembered this group of kids and that magic moment this week as the we celebrated World Read Aloud Day. Here are my gleanings:
1. An article in U.S. News & World Report was a great reminder that technology has it’s place, but reading aloud to children will never go out of style. Just like that group of 7th graders that I bewitched with a story, most children love to be read to. Heck, we all enjoy story time now and then! Taking the time to read to someone shows you are interested in them, their education, and their entertainment. It’s something all literate people can do to re-pay the gift of learning to read. Read to someone and change the world!
2. Another great internet finding was a blog post that came out today by Nancy Tandon via The Nerdy Book Club. I have a son just like hers. He’s an “active listener” and that’s always been hard for me, a criss-cross applesauce kind of girl. He loves to play Legos and listen to audio books. I have to take deep breaths sometimes when I want to interrupt this very acceptable literacy activity because my teacher-side thinks he’s not listening. He is. He can prove it every time and I need to take a chill-pill.
3. Finally, I’ve decided that we will no longer be getting ice cream or a smoothie when we need a treat after a stressful trip to the dentist (can you believe I do this?) or the doctor. Again, from Nancy Tandon, who suggests why not get the reward at the book store?* Why not indeed? I can’t wait for my son’s 6 month check up! Barnes & Nobel here we come!
What have you learned about literacy this week?
*I know he doesn’t need a reward at all, but come on! I just got this great tip! Let me try it at least once?
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest was one of my favorite books a couple of years ago. I thought the story was well imagined and clever. I originally thought it was a young adult book, but after reading it I realized I connected with the 30-something mother who chases after her young son years after a mad scientist’s invention, an earth moving machine known as the Boneshaker, destroys Civil War era Seattle. Her son goes in search of answers in the now abandoned city. Boneshaker was the first book in what is known as the Clockwork Century series and it’s a stand-out in the Steampunk genre.
Now I’m enjoying the fifth book in the series, Fiddlehead, which features a fantastic calculating machine, a genius inventor, a former spy, and Abraham Lincoln– after his assassination. He’s alive and wheel-chair bound, but still committed to a perfect union of states. It’s proving to be an enjoyable plot point and I can’t wait to sit in my cozy reading chair and finish the adventure.
What’s your quiet Sunday reading?