This was an actual exchange between my sister and I:
Me: The students are reading Homecoming
Sister: Oh, Dicey!
Me: Never get tired of her.
Sister: She's pretty awesome
(Husband ROS) - Is she a real person or one of those book friends?
He's right. My sister and I have been known to have full conversations about book characters as if they are real humans. Which has everything to do with great writing. If an author does their job thoroughly, characters ARE real people.
My students got to experience that this past month. I let them read one of my all time favorite books Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. They loved it. Like, they would come into class, and say, "Can we start reading now?" before the rest of the class was in the door. They were pumped! Two of my students who NEVER contributed much to conversations, kept talking and talking and talking. It was great. I was hoping that SOME of my students would enjoy it. I did not expect widespread love for the book.
Then I told them it was book ONE in a four book series. They flipped out! I brought in my worn and ragged copies and they are COMPETING for a chance to BORROW my books. It is the craziest thing. I have always LOVED Cynthia Voigt's writing. Her characters are so authentic; complicated and three-dimensional. It shouldn't shock me that good writing draws readers in, but still I was/am surprised to have such a unanimous response.
If I were a millionaire, I would buy each kid a full set of the books. I love the idea that they are books they WANT to read. One of the thing that bums me out the most about socio-economically challenged students is the idea of the lack of books in their lives. Books have always been close friends to me. The WORST punishment that was ever handed out was the following: "Go to your room! And you CAN'T read!" The husband has pointed out that if I was in my room, my parents would never have known whether or not I read. This, unfortunately, never occured to me during these punishements. I sat there bookless and sad, waiting for my punishment to end. It was like death.
I set up a Donor's Choose fund to see if I can get ONE copy of the next book of the series into the hands of each of my students. It's a long shot, but I wanted to give it a go. It can't hurt to ask, right? I would love to be able to hand them the book and say, "See you matter a lot, and reading is so important that STRANGERS spent money to make sure you have a book in your hands." That would be pretty amazing. Every now and again, you hear about some famous or wealthy person funding every project in a state -- I keep hoping that it will happen to California.
I've got to go now. I have a book to read. If only it were something by Ms. Voigt, but tragically, I must get my reading completed for my graduate class. It isn't nearly as much fun, but so important.
What is your favorite book?
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