Thursday, June 6, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I wasn’t a reader until the end of second and the start of third grade.  I don’t remember if that was because I was behind, slow, stubborn, or all of the above.  I do remember I was a Black Bird out of the Red Bird/Blue Bird reading groups.  I think I was really an Angry Bird.  

I’m sure my teacher would have preferred to put me in the “Getting on My Nerves” reading group and I am certain I couldn’t blame her.  I remember the day my third grade teacher, Mrs. A., read Little House in the Big Woods to our class.  
I didn’t like Mrs. A. and she didn’t like me.  Mrs. A. really wasn’t a bad or mean teacher (believe me I have had mean and bad teachers) but it was more that we just didn’t click.  Mainly because I never listened or shut up.  I was a wild little kid (and I still am).  I remember taking a 50 States Test and I wrote ‘I Love Jim Bob’ in all the answer slots (Jim Bob sat beside me).  She made me stand up as she read each answer.  The kids made fun of me for weeks after that.  I tried to pretend like somebody else forced me to do it, or someone else took the test, or Mrs. A. made it up.

Back to the subject, the one hour that Mrs. A. really had me was when she passed out Little House in the Big Woods.  We each had our own copy.  I guess out of pure boredom I decided to quit looking at everything but the book.  Suddenly I started to follow along.  I had no clue what was going on in the book but the way that Laura described her pretty teacher with ‘clean shiny nails and a crisp white shirt’ sounded like something I would think.   Then I was so hooked I read ahead a couple of chapters and then (you guessed it) I was in trouble for READING AHEAD.  I got my book taken away!?!  Can you believe it? The one time I follow along.  

Now that I am a teacher, I understand the need to stay with the teacher when she is explaining things for understanding and assessing.  At the time I was so mad I almost stole the copy like I did, Farmer Brown, in second grade because it was the only book I could read.
Somewhere along that time my mom bought me a copy of Sweet Vally High and then I was in BIG trouble.  I read that book like it was my only glass of water in the middle of the Sahara dessert.  I knew it was fluff, but when you lived what I lived you wanted fluff.  You wanted to read about an imaginary place where twins were beautiful, families were perfect,  everyone was smart and shiny, and the latest adventure involved mishaps by Jessica.  

I was like 9 years old reading All Night Long?  And does that guy have a total pornstache? 
oh jeez, maybe I shouldn't have been reading.

That reading forged the path for Fear Street, Judy Blume, Anne of Avonlea, Baby Sitter’s Club, Nancy Drew, Wayside School, Face on the Milk Carton. Tom Sawyer, Grimm Brothers, etc. etc.
My access to books were limited.  I took no trips to the public library.  I had the school library with limited choices.  The best would be when my mom would bring me a surprise book! One time I told my dad I was saving for an entire set of Anne of Green Gables books and he just bought the whole thing.  Those were some exciting times for me.  
This was better than an amusement park pass.

I would go to my room, open the cover of a book, and would begin my addiction.  The worst was having to go to bed before a book was finished.  I was lost in the story, and you could forget about homework, chores, outside time.  A bookstore was just heaven for me.  At that time you could buy a book for two to three dollars.  I would walk into a bookstore, and painstakingly choose one book and wait until the next phase when I had two to three dollars to buy another.  When I couldn't buy a new book, I would reread and reread all of my old ones.
I had dreams of walking into a book store (with a fur coat and limo) and buy any book I wanted, any time of day.  It was like a “if I won the lottery" dream.
Today, believe it or not, my dream has come true (minus the fur and limo)!  I have access to books anytime.  I can go to the library, I can go to the bookstore, I can get free online books, free Kindle books, Ereader books, I can purchase a new bestseller instantly without waiting, and I can borrow from my friends anytime!  
and rereading?  ha. who needs to reread now? (It's a little sad, isn't it?)
I don’t have to ask my parents, I don’t have to save, I don’t have to want for books anymore.

If I could go back in time and tell my 10 year old self-  one day you will grow up, be a teacher, have a happy family, and have access to thousands and thousands of books at your fingertips.  I would a.) totally freak out and stop reading Fear Street books 

b.  never dream that would be possible, as much imagination that I had, it wasn’t so good that I could imagine being a teacher with lots of books.  Nothing would be that crazy.

The problem now is that I have too much of a good thing.

I have a tons of books and I can’t read them. I go between articles on the computer, to text, to newspaper, to another book, to downloading yet ANOTHER book.  Self help, teaching resources, romance, action, adventure, biography....  I’m going crazy here!  How do I choose?  Am I going to have to call my parents to bring me one paperback bimonthly!?!?
I have too much of a good thing.  

This morning I settled in to read, while Carlee napped and the rain dripped outside, I couldn't wait to destress.  It was a perfect morning to read.  Yet, I took up an hour just reading the synopsis of all my books, checking Facebook, thinking of books I could write, and writing lists of things to read!  Don’t get me started on my son.  People say to me, he struggles, he may never like reading.  I say to people, not my son.  He has an ingrained sense of storytelling deep inside of him.  I can already see it.  He loves for me to read to him .  He loves to tell stories.  We just have to work out the little, tiny dynamic of reading words and sentences and paragraphs all together  (insert public service announcement here- reading a loud is important to kids of ALL ages of ALL reading levels. You need to be doing it in your classroom and home.)

You know what really gets in the way?  Thousands of kids' channels, tons of toys, an array of books to choose from, iPad games, internet.  Even the school systems buy expensive reading programs, interventions, and reading cds.  Some teachers show the movie before reading the book to give kids a visual.
These things are not bad and they can be great for teaching, but they can also get in the way of attaining and enjoying a plain, old fashioned, good book.   

We have removed the imagination and anticipation. 

Too much of a good thing.
We love the David Series and this book by David Shannon.

Blessings and Curses.
Meanwhile I will try to channel my younger self.  
Enjoy.  Read.  Relax.  Appreciate.  
Your dream has come true little wild child!
You have gone from the Black Bird, to Free Bird.

Now Just Enjoy the Read!

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