I think it was a “thank you,” of sorts.
My associate principal, the ever-smiling, ever-supportive, Anita Sundstrom, had asked at the end of last school year to borrow some books to read over the summer.
I sent her home with Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale (and I swear to the heavens and Nicholas Nickleby that Ms. Hannah isn’t paying me to write about her book. Though I may have mentioned how it made me weepy here, and how I broke the law to read it here, and how the lovely Erin Doucette – who is so very lovely that she helped me with the title of this post at 7:31 a.m.- and I book talked it for the whole school here).
Only a few days later, I received a text from Anita. Something about reading until two in the morning and then not being able to fall asleep for fear of Nazis.
As I said…I think it was a thank you.
She couldn’t put the book down and immediately wanted another recommendation.
Translation: A book captured a reader and fueled a desire to keep reading.
Further Translation: The deepest desire of each and every English teacher fulfilled.
However, it wasn’t until I went to book talk The Nightingale for my current students a few weeks back, that I noticed the Post-it stuck to the inside cover of the book: “Thanks for the great read. – Anita”
It made me smile. And want to pass on the book love.
So, when I did the book talk, I shared the brief reading story above and showed that Post-it to my students. I joked that Mrs. Sundstrom’s note added street cred to the book. After all, she’s a former science teacher.
Translation: The book has a wider appeal than just a tearful (though sincerely passionate) English teacher.
Further Translation: I now had an idea to help “sell” more books.
Next to the book return bin in my classroom, I placed a stack of Post-its and a few pens. I introduced the idea that we could all help each other better understand the books in our library and their appeal by leaving each other notes in the text.
These quick little reviews could reach out to readers in search of a book. Those souls searching for a little connection to the readers that have gone before them. Swaying back and forth in front of the bookshelves. Staring. Now, they would have the recommendation of fellow readers right there in the book. The book that would already be in their hands.
Sometimes those Post-it notes can recommend a book I’ve not yet book talked. Sometimes those notes can recommend a book before I can get over to the shelves and help a student select a text. Sometimes those notes lend cred to book when a cover/title/description doesn’t do it justice.
Read a book.
Leave your name and your thoughts on a sticky note.
Now I tease kids that their old school Post-it note reviews might find their way to Mrs. Sundstrom’s office, which is better than finding themselves in Mrs. Sundstrom’s office.
My hope is that the inside covers of my books end up looking like our writer’s notebooks: colorful, messy, informative, creative, and full of inspirational, deep thoughts.
So, thank a peer, thank a friend, thank a reader, thank a book. #FridayReads and then pass it on.
How do you capture students’ thoughts on books they love? Please share your ideas in the comments below!