I'll Do It Because I Want To, Not Because You Tell Me To!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I have written before about how my mom made me the reader I am today. As I told my students today, the only reason I am the English teacher/reader/read aloud-er that I am is because of how much my mom read to me, took me to the library, and loved books.

You may already know, but today was National Reading Day because today was also Dr. Seuss's birthday. My mom really wanted to come and read to my middle school classes in honor of the day, and I was really excited because I knew the kids would be dazzled by her reading aloud skills.

Yesterday I asked my eighth graders what books they enjoyed reading as kids. I didn't tell them why I was asking, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the results. Every single student had something to share. EVERY. ONE. Even kids who are not great readers. Even the kids who do not like to read. They all had something to share. Henry and Mudge. Green Eggs and Ham. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The truth is, I had had a couple of these very students tell me before that they don't remember a parent reading to them, and, more specifically, that they don't remember their dads reading to them. I feel like that's so sad because, although I might remember my mom more, I certainly remember my dad reading to me, too. (He was a HUGE fan of the book Owl at Home.)

My mom came and read many books today. She did a slightly different lineup for each class, but she read Dr. Seuss, The Stinky Cheese Man, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and, my favorite, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, among some other things. (Sidenote: Erin -- Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, we need to stage a reading together. Remember that kid who wouldn't bathe and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle told her parents to plant radishes on her? Yeahhhh.) 

The kids were really well behaved and seemed to really enjoy being read to. The thing is, EVERYONE enjoys being read to, and I think we enjoy it even more when someone is reading a nostalgic book to us. And, even at the ripe old ages of 11-15, these kids are nostalgic for books like Green Eggs and Ham. And, as I mentioned before, some of these kids may have never had a mama read to them, or maybe not read enough. And that's not an indictment on anyone's parenting. I understand we all have different circumstances. But I also know, in my humble English-teacher opinion, reading is THE VERY BEST THING you can do for your kid. (I also have a kid whose mom died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and if there's anyone who could step in for someone's mom for a half hour, it's my mom.)

I so enjoyed listening to my mom read because, as I realized a few minutes in to her first reading, it's been a looooooong time since my mom read aloud to me. And when I listened to her say "Are you my mother?" I could almost picture myself upstairs on Alma Street where I used to live (and my grandparents still do).

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