Because of…a Book

I am a reader. I often tell my students that I was born with a book in my hands. Their eyes kind of bug out when I tell them this but then I remind them of the difference between literally and figuratively being born with a book in my hands and they go back to being, “Ok, we get it.”

So, I love reading books with my students. And of the many many many books I have shared with children, “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorites. My niece, Lauren, was the first to recommend it. “Aunt Suzanne,” she said to me not long after she finished third grade back in, like, 2001! “You should read this book to your class, they will really like it.” So I did. Lauren was right. My class and I loved it. I have read it ever since.

It is a pretty deep book, as books ought to be. It plows through so many issues; loneliness, friendship, parent/child relationships, judging others, figuring out what is important…well, the list goes on and on. The book is like an entire year of therapy sessions wrapped up in one little bundle. Each class I read it to brings new things to the table, proving over and over how important it is to read to children. Today was no exception to the rule!

We were reading the chapter where Miss Franny Block, the little old librarian, is described as having “fits”. I paused to briefly talk about seizures. A student in the back of the room raised her hand. “I know a little about this because my aunt reads me books about people who have health problems. She wants me to understand about her daughter,” this third grader explained. She then told us about her cousin. “All she can do is lie in her bed and my aunt has to take care of her. She even has a little stick in her side and that is how she eats because she can’t chew or swallow.” She went on to explain that, “Yeah, and its sad because my aunt does it all alone. My uncle moved away and got an apartment because they were having problems.” Like, wow, right? You could just watch the rest of the class digesting this. “So I bet you are a huge help when you come over to help your aunt, aren’t you?” I asked. She was beaming as she nodded her head.

A second student raised her hand. She shared the story of her little brother who requires a lot of attention because, as she put it, “He is a hot mess!”. The boy is in our school so the class knew what she was talking about, most had witnessed her brother having a difficult moment. We spent quite a bit of time discussing how reading about people and their problems can help us figure out ways to deal with problems in our own life. Every one of those children in that room had a story, most chose to hold it close, but all spent some time with their feelings today, “because of Winn-Dixie!”

And so I return to the fact that I love books. And because I love books I read a lot to my students. And they fall in love with books too. Books open up our worlds. They can be moving, sad, funny, controversial, or just plain entertaining. In addition to Winn-Dixie, I love to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Series of Unfortunate Events (the Bad Beginning), The Wild Robot, The One and Only Ivan, Crenshaw, The Boy On the Porch, The Farthest Away Mountain, Silverwing, and Sideways Stories From Wayside School. This is a short list of the many novels I have enjoyed sharing with students. I’m wondering what books you would add to this list?


8 thoughts on “Because of…a Book

  1. Love the connections your students made! Books really can open up worlds. One of my favorite chapter books recently–Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Picture books–Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña and Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an inspiring slice about the power of books (and the people who read them to children!” As a retiree, it is so refreshing to know there are still some teachers out there who believe in and actually embed reading aloud in the classroom. You must have ended your day feeling very satisfied and proud…you touched lives, gave kids a voice and made a difference, all “because of Winn Dixie” and your love of books. Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Suzanne, you illustrate aptly the entire point of reading literature and of doing so in a group setting: literature depicts the human experience. Every story is about the reader in some manner. You have just explained how at a very young age, we have a capacity to amplify the humanity of what we read simply by discussing it. This post took hold of me.

    Liked by 1 person

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