Ramona Is My Hero and The One Where I Ask You For Help

One of the best parts of being a teacher is my daily read aloud. For at least 10 minutes every day I get to connect with my students through what teachers call a “shared book experience” – one which creates a sense of community, fosters a love of the written word and helps my students become better readers through teacher modeling.

We laugh, we cry, we always ask for another chapter…

But enough about them, let’s talk about me. 

I read to my students because I love it. It feels good to share something with them that I love so much. Seeing their little faces light up and watching them lean towards me as they fall into the story sometimes brings tears to my eyes. Everyday during this one special time, I think to myself, I can’t believe they pay me for this.

Often I’ve wondered if anyone else experiences this feeling and yesterday one of my dear friends posted an advertisement for the library looking for volunteers and she claimed she’d “mow people down to have a chance at being a pre-school storytime reader. ”

Exactly.

So how exactly did I develop my love of reading? 

Was it watching my mom and dad read at home?

Honestly I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have my nose buried in a book.

Growing up, I was obsessed with Ramona Quimby. During my second and third grade years my teacher, Mrs. Meloncon {love her!}, encouraged us to read for pleasure and she read out loud to us every day. We’d crowd on floor around her feet {seeing, of course, who could be closest} and quiet down and listen carefully.

Was it her who introduced us to this naughty little girl and all the deliciousness of a good book?

My best friends, Vicki and Karla, and I would race to the library each week trying to get our hands on Ramona’s latest adventures around her Northeast Klickitat Street neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. We traded books back and forth and wiped the public library shelves clean. It would seem, we couldn’t get enough.

Ramona the Pest, Beezus and Ramona, Ramona The Brave, Ramona and Her Father… always with the likable little pesky sister. Oh wait! Maybe that’s why we loved Ramona! We saw ourselves in her. Little girls trying to follow our inner voices while sometimes getting our feelings hurt and sometimes hurting other people’s feelings. Making mistakes and sometimes getting into trouble.

I love Ramona to this day. A couple of Halloween’s ago, I even dressed as Ramona and all the women at the party I attended that night told me about their deep love of the sometimes trouble-maker, Ramona.

So dear readers, this year I am without a class to read aloud to. This year I will be reading to my baby girl, Ruby. It’s my sincerest hope I am able to pass on my love of reading to our new daughter.

Do you read to your kids/students? Do you have any tips to share for reading with babies? Any favorite books?

Book(s) #best09

December 4th’s prompt:

 Book. What book – fiction or non – touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane touched my heart this year. Although it wasn’t published in 2009, I read it this year. I picked this book up from the McClatchy Library because I had loved Kate DiCamillo’s other books: especially Because of Winn Dixie and The Tiger Rising.

I needed a book to use to teach my class about story structure, a book that would clearly spell out the story’s problem and resolution. My plan was to find a read aloud book to my class that we could analyze and enjoy the book together. My search for the perfect book was over when I found Edward Tulane.

As usual, I always pre-read books that I read to my class. I want to make sure I know what is coming, what I’ll need to explain and so that I can practice my read aloud voice. I don’t remember the details of my solo read, but I do remember thinking this is one of the best children’s books I’d ever read.

As I sat on my chair in the front of my classroom, kids sitting on the floor at my knee, I began the read aloud by showing them the cover of the book. Like the good readers they are becoming they began asking questions and making predictions about the story just by looking at the cover.

The kids asked what miraculous meant and wondered who was that little rabbit in the red pajamas in the picture? They decided that this book must be fantasy because rabbits don’t really wear pajamas.

Sharing a chapter a day, the kids sat on the carpet criss-cross-apple-sauce, leaning forward listening intently. They were immediately entranced with the story of this China doll rabbit.

When asked about the story’s problem, one of my students explained that the story’s problem was really Edward’s problem: “It’s all about love, Ms. Hackbarth. Although many loved him, Edward himself was not able to love.”

Nothing warms a teacher’s heart more than an eight year old so clearly articulating the problem! The main character’s inability to love is the problem in this story. The other students correctly predicted that by the end of the story he would come around to loving those who had loved him longest.

Some may say that makes Edward Tulane a predictable story, but I would argue there is so much suffering in this story that the resolution leaves you feeling like love really is possible. This book is absolutely heartbreaking and in the end so redeeming that I can’t wait to share it with my class this year.

BONUS BOOK!

I am a very lucky woman. I get to read to kids and they pay me. So in order to earn my keep, I read kid’s books more  than most.

The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake made my class laugh so much that they made me read it to them more than once. They even made me read it out loud in front of one of our parent helpers because they said I read it so well.

This book was a particularly good pick for this class because many in my class were reluctant readers, especially my boys. By the time I had returned The Dirty Cowboy to the library, the book had been well-loved and reread by many in my class.