One of my first literacy professional development experiences as a new teacher was a session with Shelley Harwayne. I had no idea who she was. I really had no idea how to teach reading or writing, especially not using reading or writing workshop. But I bought her latest book, Novel Perspectives, and I tucked away a story she told about writing her grandchildren letters every Sunday night.
I untucked that story nearly six years later as I was preparing to give birth to my first baby girl. I wrote my unborn baby her first letter on July 27, 2012, just two weeks before her due date. Since that letter, I’ve written over 3oo letters to my girls. One letter every week. I write about our days, milestones, triumphs, and moments of sadness. I record funny things they say or trouble that they get into. I paste poems and stories that make me think of them. I add pictures.
Each year, I have published these letters into a book. Professionally printed and bound-a real book. These books have no real audience yet. My girls are too young to read them. They don’t even know I’m writing them. I really don’t have a plan for sharing them with them. I think I’ll know when the time is right.
Yesterday, I wrote about the power of producing something beautiful and I wondered how to share that experience with students. Today, my fourth published book of letters arrived on my doorstep. The sense of pride and accomplishment I felt, ripping open the package to look at my work, was something I want to share. It made me wonder what it must feel like to see a published book on the shelf at a bookstore or in the hands of a reader.