Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reread in April!

When I first saw the meme Teach Mentor Texts created for April, I didn't think Iwas going to participate.  I've always said I wasn't a big fan of rereading.  However, when I reflected over this past week's rereading, I realized how important rereading is to teaching and how important it is to value kids' desires to reread.  Kids reread all the time.  I used to think it was because they didn't realize how many wonderful books there are out there or didn't want to come out of their comfort zones, and I think that is the case sometimes, but honestly, I think many of them reread their beloved favorites because they see something new every time!  That's something I could learn.  It dawned on me this week that not only did I miss some important symbolism in one of my read alouds the first time I read it (it took a student to point it out to me), but that I found a new purpose for an old favorite, and the new purpose didn't occur to me until three-fourths through my rereading of it.  Now I'm excited to do some rereading this month and months to come.  I'm still driven to read lots of new books, but now I won't avoid rereading some old favorites, or maybe ones that I didn't appreciate much the first time, but have been hearing other people tout them enough to think maybe I missed something about them the first time around. 
One thing I've always been afraid of about rereading favorites is that I won't like it as much the second time around.  I think sometimes books have a time and place, and you love them because of the age you were and what you were going through at the time.  Have you ever felt that way?  One of the books I feel that way about is Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, I book I loved when I read it in my early thirties.  I've never reread it, and it remains one of my favorite memories of reading.
Here are the books I reread this week:
Bigger than a Bread Box

Reread. I chose this as a read aloud this year, and I'm so glad I did! It is perfect to read aloud - full of suspense, magic, heartache, realistic family and school problems, etc. Time and time again the kids protested when I stopped for the day. I just finished it with one my classes this week. I love when kids point out things I didn't notice the first time I read something. She heard the description and saw the illustration of the bread box having roses on it and pointed out the symbolism in the beautiful rose having thorns. Wow. Hadn't thought about that at all, but how perfectly that goes with the plot and theme! Originally read 10/27/11: This book wasn't what I expected at all. I thought it was going to be a book about magic, but it was really a book about a 12-year-old girl caught up in her parents' problems, learning about family, herself, and home. Rebecca is growing up in Baltimore, enjoying seagulls, books, and playing with her sister. However, everything changes when her mother drags her and her little brother off to Atlanta to live with her grandmother after a fight with her father. Rebecca doesn't even have time to say goodbye to her best friend and sister, Mary Kate. Once in Atlanta, miserable and looking for a phone with which to call her dad, Rebecca goes up to her grandmother's attic. While rummaging around, Rebecca finds an old, tin bread box that catches her eye, and she brings it down to her room. She realizes when she wishes for things that are smaller than a bread box, they appear inside! On a Friday, her grandma decides to enroll her in her new school. Then she decides she needs to stay at school that day! Rebecca is horrified that it's mid-morning on a Friday! Luckily, she thinks she's hit the jackpot when she's introduced to an obvious cool girl, Hannah, and her "posse." However, Rebecca thinks she sees their true colors right away when they start teasing Megan about her curly, red hair. Meanwhile, Rebecca keeps wishing for things like a phone, iPod, a perfect gift for her mother, a small t.v., etc., and they show up in the bread box. Things get really complicated, though, when she wishes for a jacket just like Hannah's. I can't tell you more, or this will be a spoiler. Let's just say, this isn't just any story about magic. I love that Snyder includes "Hungry Heart" in the story, by Bruce Springsteen, of whom I'm a HUGE fan!
The One and Only Ivan


Reread. I finished this book for the fourth time aloud. My last class got to hear the ending on Friday. Even after it being the fifth time to read it and finish it, I STILL got tears in my eyes. What an amazing work of art this book is. This kids yelled at me at the end, "Noooooo!" It can't be over! We want more!" What more could you want from a book? I'm planning a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo in late April where we will hold our Parent/Student Book Club over the book.  I can't wait!   Originally read 2/15/12 - This is a wonderfully told story from the point of view of a gorilla, Ivan, who has been kept at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for so long, he's forgotten what it means to be a silverback. His best friends are Bob, the dog, and Stella, the elephant. When baby elephant, Ruby, joins them, they rethink what it means to be in their domain/cage, far away from others of their kind. Julia, the caretaker's daughter, befriends the animals and connects with Ivan through art. Mac, the owner, is a complicated antagonist - he's not all bad. What's amazing about the writing is that it's so simple and sparse, but incredibly poignant, and in parts, funny. The story is a cross between Water for Elephants and Charlotte's Web - it captures the complicated relationship between people and animals without being sappy or didactic. I had three copies of it since I knew it was being talked about as a Newbery contender, so I'm giving them out right away - one to a fifth grader who's writing a story from the point of view of a manatee.
City Dog, Country Frog

animals, death, friendship, paired-texts, picture-book, reread, setting, leaving a legacy, symbolism, theme, circular story

Reread. I always thought I didn't like to reread books, but I'm discovering that re-reading is very valuable in the teaching of reading because new things are brought to light. This is one of my favorite picture books ever, and I pulled it out this year to share with my students this beautiful book and to practice some skills, but we had just fnished reading aloud The One and Only Ivan. It dawned on me halfway through (I may be slow, I realize) how perfectly it pairs with that story. Think City Dog=Ivan, Country Frog=Stella, Chipmunk=Ruby, theme exactly the same! Originally read 2/27/11: I bought this book after the 2011 Dublin Literacy Conference in February. I can't say enough about it. It's brilliant. I loved that Katie Wood Ray used it at the Lakota Literacy Conference to teach how an illustrator and writer can learn from each other on how to create isolation, passage of time, and feelings thought gesures and facial expressions through art and words.
What books have you reread and loved again?  What new things did you discover when you reread them?


1 comment:

  1. Two of the most memorable books I have reread are "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "Cry, The Beloved Country." They both meant so much to me in college and my young adulthood. Could they recreate the feelings I had when I first read them? Yes, oh yes. Perfection in writing is timeless. And the heart remembers.