Book Love: A Textbook With a Cape

Do you remember the first hero that you ever had? The first person that I ever looked up to was without a doubt my Uncle Brian. He was awesome and made the best alfredo sausage pizza known to mankind. Although he never actually wore one, I pictured him wearing a cape and saving the world (or just saving me from eating gross food). Of course, as I’ve grown, I have found different heroes in different areas of my life, including those found in my studies for my future career. Throughout this semester, I’ve had the privilege of reading Book Love by Penny Kittle. Her ideas have inspired me and made me think outside of the box. For this, I will be forever grateful (as will my future students, I’m sure).

Nurturing Every Student- Chapter 8

I loved this chapter wholeheartedly. A fear of mine is that I won’t be able to accommodate every student that I have. What if I don’t know what they like to read? How do I fuel a student’s desire to read if I don’t know how to help them? I want to have my classroom function as a community, so how do I accomplish this while still letting every student be an individual reader?

Kittle’s writing reassured me. Through community notebooks and quarter-by-quarter reflections, I will be able to see my students grow as readers. Choice is huge to everyone (as discussed in previous posts), so we shouldn’t be afraid to give it to our students. One student reflected on their past reading by saying “without choice, I would be continuing my trend from years past and not reading at all” (131). Students must be able to discuss books with others within the community (classroom) because, as Kittle says, “drawing connections… is so much deeper than studying one book in isolation” (122). Kids want to talk about books that they have read. They want to share their passion with others. One way to share the passion is through the Big Idea Books notebooks that talk about themes. These will be great for future students to look through and find new books to read.

One thing that I always loved about literature is that it allows us all to be flexible in the way that we view things. There isn’t always one particular answer or way to look at something. This is why I love Kittle’s teaching strategy so much. By allowing students to choose their own books, we are allowing them to follow their passion once they find it. This can be seen clearly in the students’ reflections on their reading. One student commented that her life “gained depth.. book after book page after page” (131). That’s the feeling that I want my students to reach.

Not only have I lived the lives of a dozen or so different people, I have opened the door to a great reading habit, enabling me to become hundreds of more people with the turn of a page… I have officially become a reader, not just a  “this is my assigned book this month, what chapters am I reading tonight” reader.

Creating a School-Wide Reading Community-Chapter 9

Standardized tests fail us; if this wasn’t clear before, it certainly is after reading. Teachers and school districts are often judged based on the scores that are received by students in their classes. These tests give a false knowledge on what students are actually able to do as readers. Standardized tests don’t measure the student as an individual, which is what is most important to me. Classroom teachers can measure this improvement. The goal should always be to have students finding a pure joy for reading that will follow them throughout their lives:

We want students to love reading and read for the rest of their lives. There is nothing in a standardized test that measures this or lets us know whether we’re close to reaching that goal.

Summer reading matters, just as my individual reading life does. I have to constantly keep reading to find new materials to share with my students. I need to dive further into different genres so that I can recommend them to diverse readers. I must continue to become a lifelong reader if I want my students to do the same. If I want my students to become voracious readers, I must show them my passion; this is important because “you can’t catch a cold or a love of books from someone who has neither,” as said by Jim Trelease (158). By embodying the values I want to pass onto my students, I will be more successful.

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(Photo: Amazon.com)

As I finished the last 2 chapters of Book Love, I felt a sense of both triumph and sadness. The ideas within this book have reshaped my personal ideas as to what my future classroom and the practices that I establish will look like. To me, Penny Kittle is a complete rock star, and I love to read her work. She has inspired me to look differently at classroom practices; through her work, I have grown as a future educator of literature. The wisdom imparted through this textbook will stick with me as I continue forward in my studies. It, much like my uncle, has an invisible cape. Penny Kittle, thank you for showing me what an education hero looks like.

We can change the story of reading.

We have to.

Every child. Every year. Every classroom.

Book love-pass it on.

-RG

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16 thoughts on “Book Love: A Textbook With a Cape

  1. Wyoming Jen

    So eloquent! You are an amazing writer.
    I really loved Penny Kittle’s ideas and she, along with Donalyn Miller, have become my “teaching reading superheroes”. I think that the steps Kittle lays out in chapter 8 are grounded in best practice research. When we reflect on our growth and learning, we embody the lessons and the learning becomes our own. I know that my reading life and future are forever impacted by these wonderful professionals.
    I look forward to hearing about your adventures in teaching literature in the future. I also want to know what you keep reading! 🙂

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    1. Wow, thank you! That compliment just made my entire night. 🙂
      She is a true superhero in my book. Her ideas are so great, and I truly loved chapter 8. Reflection is something that I believe is truly important for students to take part in.
      Thanks again! Your comment made me smile. I look forward to keeping track of your adventures and books! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wyoming Jen

        I loved Kittle’s ideas about community, sharing what we are reading, and talking about books. I look forward to continuing our conversations about reading!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. asimplebookaddiction

    I too worry about my ability to meet all the unique needs of every student, but it is obvious you are passionate about doing just that and I believe you will be amazing!

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  3. Love this post! Your title made me laugh. Penny Kittle is my teaching superhero too. Be sure to read Write Beside Them if you haven’t already (I think Dr. Lee uses it in his class on Teaching Writing. Have you taken that already?)

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    1. Thanks, Dr. Ellington! She is just so awesome; the entire time I was reading I just kept thinking “I want to be her when I grow up.” I haven’t taken it yet, but I’m scheduled to take it next spring! I’m already looking forward to reading it. 🙂

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  4. Dr. Lee uses Write Beside Them of Kittle’s for Teaching Writing. It has even more wonderful ideas! I have also read Kittle’s The Greatest Catch. For a teacher, I highly recommend this, because it talks about the triumphs and tragedies of being a teacher.

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  5. christianburesh

    The quarter-term reflection must be exciting to see as a teacher. Seeing a student write that their life is gaining depth is something still unreal to me.

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  6. Amy

    I am contemplating how to help my students keep reading this summer. I would love to help them set a goal and achieve it just not sure how to set it up.

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    1. This is something that I think I’ll struggle with as well. Since you can’t technically assign the reading it gets tricky. But, it’s also very important to be sure that they keep reading. Hopefully students will develop a love for reading and they will just simply not want to stop. 🙂

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  7. I am right with you on worrying how to turn my students into readers and not press books into their hands I love but they don’t like just because I think it is a great book. I love Penny Kittle as well and I think put one of her other books on my Thriftbooks wish list.

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