Monthly Archives: September 2013

Selecting Books

I’ve had some people ask me about the way I’m selecting books to read to Bubba, and they’ve brought up some good points… so I’ll try to address some of those questions and concerns today.

First of all, I’m selecting books from the shelves in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.  There are a couple reasons for this.

1. It’s the easiest way I could think of doing it.  I can easily pick up where I left off without having to think too hard (which is nice after a long tay teaching 27 first graders).

2. When we’re checking out and returning 15-20 books at a time (sometimes multiple times a week), I want to make it easy on the librarians and not cause too much extra work for them.

3. It allows me to read an author’s entire body of work at the same time.  I really like this because I feel like I really get to know the author by doing it this way.

Of course, there are some problems with this method.  First of all, great authors typically have some of their best books checked out.  This means that I might miss some of the best books because someone else has them checked out when we get to the author’s section in the library.  The way I’ve tried to avoid this is by constantly backtracking and checking to see if any books have been returned on the shelves we’re working on that month.  I may not catch every book, but I try to catch as many as I can.

A similar problem is that the library is constantly adding books to the shelves, and it’ll be impossible to go back and check every shelf for new books (especially when we get further along in our journey).  The fact of the matter is that we probably won’t catch all of these books.  I really don’t have a solution for this problem, so if you can think of anything to help with this I’d love to hear it.

Finally, some people have suggested skipping the “bad” books so we can get to the good ones sooner and not torture ourselves with the Barbie-type books.  As much as I’d love to do this, I want Bubba to know that there ARE bad books out there and that it’s okay to not like a book.  In school, he’s (hopefully) only going to be exposed to quality literature – books that he’s going to want to finish all the time.  When he’s reading on his own, he’s going to be exposed to poor writing from time to time.  I want him to be able to identify the poor writing so he doesn’t waste his time on these “bad” books when he starts reading on his own.

Let me know what you think… am I doing it the right way?  Is there a better way to “Read the Library?”  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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McDonald’s or the Library

The other day I asked my class of 27 first graders a question that I’ve never asked any of my other classes before:  How many of them had been to any of the three libraries in our city.  I don’t know why I never thought about asking the question before, but what I learned shocked me!  Almost half of them (12) said they had never been to any of our libraries!

Take a guess how many of my students have been to McDonald’s (on multiple occasions), though… all but two.  Does this surprise anybody?

Don’t take this the wrong way… I’m in no way judging the parenting skills of the families in my classroom because I know Bubba and I will take our fair share of trips to McDonald’s together (when his mom isn’t there to tell us “No,” of course)  However, it got me thinking about an article I read online about how McDonald’s in the U.K. ran a promotion that gave away books in their Happy Meals earlier this year.

I wish McDonald’s would try the same thing here in the United States (even if it was just for a week or two)!  Think of how many kids (like my students) could benefit from a Happy Meal book!

Most likely it’ll never happen here in the U.S., and I guess I’m okay with that because I can take my class on a field trip to the library and Bubba doesn’t need a Happy Meal book when he gets to visit our library multiple times each week!

Of course, Bubba doesn’t get much of a choice when it comes to visiting our library (much like my students don’t really get a choice when or if they visit the library).  However, I’m pretty sure Bubba enjoys our visits.

This week when we arrived, he immediately ran to the librarian’s desk and started “talking” excitedly to her.  Of course, neither the librarian nor I could figure out what he was saying, but his joy and excitement about being in the library was very apparent.

I just wish all kids (especially my students) could have the same opportunity as Bubba and share in his love for the library.

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Not Even 2, but Teaching 1st Graders

I thought Bubba wore me out during the summer, but first graders during the first month of school really wear me out!  Not only that, they really test a person’s patience!  I spent a TON of time teaching them how to do the listening center in my classroom, and they just didn’t seem to get it… until Bubba came to my room and taught them how to do it.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “How did a one-year-old help first graders learn to do a listening center?”  Well, let me back up and tell you the whole story.

The other day my wife needed to drop Bubba off at my school because I was staying late (working with my FIRST LEGO League team) and she needed to be somewhere, so there was a 15 minute window that I needed to work with my students and keep Bubba occupied.

I decided I would sit him down at the listening center to see if he’d listen to the CD I made of myself reading John Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.  What happened next was absolutely amazing… Bubba did exactly what I expect my students to do at the listening center: He sat there quietly, listening, flipping the pages, and paying attention to the book!

All my LEGO League team members couldn’t believe it (and neither could I), so I took some pictures and showed it to my first graders the next day.  We talked about what Bubba did and how a one-year-old could enjoy a story at the listening center, and they were pretty embarrassed that Bubba could do something they had so much trouble doing.

The change was almost instantaneous… from that day on, my students have been amazing at the listening center!  Maybe I need to bring him in the classroom more often!

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