Tuesday, March 8, 2016
I am excited to announce Bonnie Vest as a guest blogger! Bonnie and I have had numerous conversations about our own reading lives and now I would like to share part of her journey.
I graduated from Berry College in 1990. I began my career teaching kindergarten and taught until my children were born. Once they were older, I went back to school and returned to teaching kindergarten. Moving due to my husband’s job, my next venture was with second grade and then eventually with special education. The last three years, I have taught 5th grade. No matter the grade, the goal and the needs are the same. Our students, more than anything, need to know that someone is in their corner.
As a child, I did not read much. We always read out of the reading book at school. I loved when we would come to a play but other than that, I had better things to do. What I considered reading, my mother did not. I loved to read how to books and comic books but my mother did not consider that reading. She would choose the book for me to read and sit next to me watching and tell me when to actually turn the page. No, I am not kidding. The summer between 5th and 6th grade, I discovered Judy Blume’s, Are you there God? It’s Me Margaret. I remember reading all day and not putting it down. I felt like she was reading my mind as I read. Never did I know you could relate to the written word. As the years went by and continued through school I hated reading anything assigned but loved choosing my own books. Of course, I learned to read to make the grades J. In college, I had to take Literature for Teachers. Our main assignment was reading as many children’s books as we could and write about them. I loved reading all the picture books and children’s literature I could get my hands on. It was so amazing to read these books and relive my childhood. I never knew most of them existed!
I am making up for lost time! In addition to every picture books for every occasion, I have been reading all the upper elementary literature I can get my hands on! These kids are so lucky to have such great books out there to read! TV use to be my end of the day relaxation but that has been replaced with the latest great book I have picked up. My family laughs at me as I tell them about the characters and which student would like the book.
My students and I talk about books every day. We discuss characters, plot and setting through casual conversation, not the random worksheet. As I read, I think about my students and what they are living through. As I choose books, I have them in mind. I have also stopped myself from doing what I hated as a kid. They are able to read whatever they choose. I have kids who love how to books, dinosaur books, graphic novels and the list continues. The joy on their faces and the growth that has taken place in their ability makes every day worth it.