Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Else?

For the sake of transparency, I will admit that I seldom read books for adults.  Because of my desire to always be ready to match a child with a book, or have the perfect text for a focus lesson, or discover the next great read aloud, my reading diet leans heavily toward picture books and chapter books for kids. 

However, upon the insistent urging of a friend, I have read a few grown up books this summer, the latest being The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

I was so enamored with the exquisite writing in the following excerpt that I read it three times:

Lillian had been four years old when her father left them, and her mother, stunned, had slid into books like a seal into water.  Lillian had watched her mother submerge and disappear, sensing instinctively even at her young age the impersonal nature of a choice made simply for survival, and adapting to the niche she would now inhabit, as a watcher from the shore of her mother’s ocean. (page 7)

Did your jaw drop open like mine did?  Ordinary words, carefully selected and combined, created such a powerful image that I had to pause for a moment in reverent awe. 

My reading comprehension is often interrupted with punctuated bursts of  “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to share this with ______.” or “Who else needs to know about this book?” It is a rare occasion that I get together with Joan and Gail that I don’t have a book in hand….which is typically thrust at them with the demand, “You have to read this” before visiting and work can commence.  I read the above passage out loud to Joan and she immediately downloaded the rest of it on her Kindle.

Do you find the same thing to be true in your reading life?  Do you and your friends and colleagues swap terrific titles?  Are you always thinking about whom else needs to know about the book you are currently in love with? 

I want to create that same fervor and passion amongst my students.  I don’t think I give them enough time to talk with each other about what they are reading. I don’t think I’ve modeled explicitly enough, ending book talks with words like,  “Rachel, I thought of you when I was reading this because you love horses and mysteries too.  Would you like to put it in your book box next?”  I want to create a culture where students readily think about and offer answers to the following: Who else would love this author?  Who else needs to read this because they love learning about…?  Who else should read this series because they love being scared…or they love books that make them laugh?  If I really allow them to get to know each other as a community of readers, they’ll easily be able to identify and answer the “Who Else?”

On a side note…I jotted a quick note to Erika Bauereister, telling her how amazing the book was and got the following reply.  

Dear Lori,

Thank you so much for your letter.  I love the idea of you reading, reading, reading, so you'll always know the right book for your students.  When my kids were younger, I was the "book lady" for their classrooms.  Every month I would bring in five new books, which I would present and then leave for the classroom library.  Such fun -- I felt like Santa Claus 12 times a year...

I am also glad that you took a break to read a book just for you, too, and that it was mine :)

All the best,

Now, wouldn’t you love to have a parent helper like that? 

(cross posted at


  1. Lori, You are absolutely right! When I'm reading a book, my mind is constantly trying to match it to someone else who will love it as much as I did. Plus, there is a bonus for me: we can talk about it after we've both read it! I love how you made the connection for your classroom. I think this will be a goal of mine this year as well. Let's get the kids involved and determine "Who else will love this book?" Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Michelle, thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. :0) Lori