One of the first things on my summer “to do” list was a trip to the book store. Some of my very savvy class parents knew that a gift card was the perfect end of the year gift. I couldn’t wait to go spend it, although I knew I would go well over the amount. Doesn’t everyone?
Although I have spent the last few years in lower grades, I have an addiction to Young Adult Fiction. So, my first stop was the summer reading tables. I love that the local book stores stock the required reading of the surrounding schools. I couldn’t wait to visit old “friends” and look for new ones. Can you picture me rubbing my hands together, ready to attack?
Suddenly, I looked up and saw the most unexpected sight! Two of my former students were walking toward me. Of course, they were so engaged in conversation that they didn’t see me. My plan was to just stand there until they recognized me. I knew what would happen next. The pre-teen squeal that is unique to their age filled the store. (OK, I did it too!) After hugs and shock over their height increase, they whipped out their summer reading lists. These girls were my students for three years because of looping. To say my attachment to them is deep is an understatement. This was my first year without them and I loved every update they provided throughout the year.
It seemed natural that we would dive in and start looking at the books and the list together. They attend a very prestigious private school and the list was seven pages long. It was filled with classics as well as recent popular authors’ titles. They were a little overwhelmed by the list, so I suggested they look for books that attracted their attention and then, check to see if it were on the list. If they found a book that they were excited about but it wasn’t on the list, they could contact the school to see if it were acceptable. This plan was just what we needed to get started.
Their arms quickly filled with Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Number the Stars, Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, and Margaret Petterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden. We also included a new one that I just finished: Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. All of us were intrigued by the two view point approach to Flipped by Wendelin Van Draaen. Our excitement and giggles were not exactly noise appropriate for a quiet book store, but no one shushed us.
At one point, one of the girls shared that she had just finished reading Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan. When we couldn’t find the book, she confidently went to the help counter and eloquently explained what she was looking for and asked for help. Was this the same little girl I had in first grade who was too shy to raise her hand? Who was this poised and self-assured young lady?
I drifted away to talk to the Mom who had brought them and we watched them from a distance. I was in awe by the grace and maturity these girls displayed. I was flooded with memories of helping them not only learn how to read but teaching them how to make inferences, draw conclusions, summarize, and most importantly, love reading. I felt deeply grateful that I was a part of their academic journey. I was their teacher.
By the way, we all promised to email and keep in contact about our summer reading.