Research shows that kids who have access to books — especially books about topics that interest them — will read more. I think it’s also important to have new books in their hands. There’s a reason we all love walking around Books-A-Million. While I’ve done plenty of thrift store shopping over the past few years, I’m also lucky to be surrounded by family and friends and especially former teachers who have shopped my Amazon Wish List. They have provided well over 100 new books, and my personal classroom library is now just shy of 1500 books.
Students have a free-read day each week — usually Free Read Friday — where they spend the entire class period just reading whatever book — no matter the type — they’ve picked at that time. Many kids don’t ever have time to just get lost in a book, and this is how we all grow to love reading.
The Broadening Boundaries Book Club is exactly what its title says. Most students gravitate toward a certain type of book, with certain types of characters, and this club lets them, as Atticus Finch says, “climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it.” In the past two years, we’ve read The Hate You Give which deals with racism and activism, Speak which focuses on depression, and Refugee tells about four kids from four different places and time periods fleeing their countries.
We’re currently reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. Stevenson’s memoir is about his commitment to ending racial and economic injustice, and when we finish in February, we’ll take a field trip to the EJI Legacy Museum and National Memorial.
No, we’re not JUST reading.
We’re expanding our vocabulary.
We’re boosting our focus and concentration.
We’re reducing stress.
We’re growing our creativity.
We’re sharpening our writing skills.
We’re becoming lifelong learners and lovers of reading.
We’re learning empathy and understanding.
Most importantly, we’re deepening our background knowledge and BROADENING BOUNDARIES.