Thursday, May 19, 2011

From a Friend...

I have a group of ten colleagues (we call ourselves the "Friday Freaks") that gathers on the first Friday of nearly every month (for the past ten years) to share books, writing, thinking... and friendship!  One of our rituals is to bring "new finds" that inspire our lives and our teaching.  Our friend, Missy, brought The Book That Changed My Life:  71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them to our last gathering.  It's edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen.  I immediately ordered it!
     In the book, 71 influential literary professionals share their thinking about the most influential books in their lives.  It's an amazingly rich and diverse collection of contributors.  And, it's a grand collection of books that each person lists as they describe how it "influenced" their lives.  From The Little Engine That Could to Atlas Shrugged to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to The Bible, each contributors describes how his or her reading and writing life has been changed because of one book.  Roxanne J. Coady ends her introduction by saying, "Apart from the sheer beauty of the essays, they are a dramatic reminder that everywhere, every day, someone is changed, perhaps even saved, by words and stories."  It's so true.
     I think I'm going to be using this one as a launching point for my students as readers next year.  Mentor text to guide them to write about the books that have shaped who they are becoming as readers.  I shared it with my fourth graders today and we talked about the "books we must read before we leave fourth grade."  Given the fact that we have only five weeks left, we've decided that we need to refocus, reconnect, and revitalize our reading lives as we finish the year.  I think this book will provide a springboard for our continued growth.
     What's the book that has most influenced your reading life?  Why?  It's a wonderful question!  And, it's worth exploring...

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