What are you reading?

“What are you reading?” A common question I ask my oldest daughter, Wren, after picking her up from school.

“Books from the k bin,” she usually replies.

“But what kind of books are you reading?” I always push.

She can usually report some random titles but nothing that ever stands out as anything she’s really excited about.

Truthfully, I stopped asking for a while.

Then last week, as we walked to the car from the after school program, I tried again. “Did you read anything great today?”

“Still the k bin,” she said. “I hardly ever get to my dessert books because my books are longer now.”

She seemed bummed about that. “What are your dessert books?” I asked, interested in what she WANTED to be reading.

“Oh! Those are the books you get to read when you’re all done with your regular books.”

“Yes, but what kind of books are your dessert books?” I pressed again.

“Oh,” her face lit up. “Fancy Nancy and Little Critter books.”

“Those can’t be your regular books?” I asked.

“They’re not in the k bin,” she said matter-of-factly.

I let the whole notion of dessert books slide, tucking away the excitement her voice held talking about those books.

A few days later, the weekend slipping away, I asked Wren if she needed to borrow some books from home for her book bin at school…a new series.

“I’m fine,” she said. “But what do you have?”

We made a trip into the basement where I have bins of books stored away from my classroom days. I quickly found a box of books from when I taught first grade, the titles stacked neatly according to series, just as I left them many years ago.

“Have you read Fox?” I asked handing her a stack of James Marshall books. “How about Cowgirl Kate? Cork and Fuzz? You have to read Mercy Watson!” I said piling more books into her overflowing arms.

Murray Watson?” She repeated, a puzzled look on her face.

“You never heard of Mercy Watson?” I asked. “He’s a pig that loves buttered toast and gets into silly troubles.”

I added the books to the stack.

That night, as I blow dried my hair, Wren sat in the bathroom reading aloud chapter one of Book 1 in the Mercy Watson series. She didn’t stop until chapter six… when I made her put a bookmark in to mark her place.

After school the next day, once again walking to the car, Wren said, “I can’t wait to finish Mercy Watson tonight.”

I smiled to myself. There is magic in helping kids find books they love to read…a little extra magic when it’s your own kid.

15 thoughts on “What are you reading?

  1. My professional goal is to eliminate all K bins and add more bins entitled “Too much Birthday” and “99 problems”. Dessert books!? This is why I often eat dessert first. Additionally Fox is slipping into a lot of my friends’ book bags lately. Fill up on dessert Wren!

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  2. Such a sweet reminder (pun intended) of how finding that just right book can fuel an excitement and energy for reading. It is my hope that all teachers can make this connection for their budding readers.

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  3. I’ve been hearing too many “no, not that one” stories this week, from adults judging kids’ reading choices. It made my heart hurt a bit, as I truly believe all reading is good reading, and children are drawn to read what they need. This post was a refreshing change. Thanks for sharing the magic!

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  4. FABULOUS!!! Yay you, Yay Wren! This is a reminder to all of us that it isn’t about the level or the book it’s about THE READER! This slice fuels my fire to find THAT series that will captivate my second grade buddy! Thanks, as always, for sharing!!

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  5. Here’s to celebrating ” dessert books” and getting more into kids’ hands.

    I was talking with some 6th graders about Mercy Watson yesterday. Even though they’d read them years ago, they still had fond memories. A new book is coming out that tell Mercy’s origin story.

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  6. First I love the idea of dessert books!
    And second, my favorite line of your slice is, “…when I made her put a bookmark in to mark her place.” How powerful is that?! My son is only six months old, but definitely loves exploring books. I cannot wait for experiences like this!

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  7. Dessert books – love that. But all books should feel like a great dessert, right?!? I have actually eliminated all letter leveled bins in my classroom – all genre(ish) based and my first graders help decide the bins the books go into. It has sparked more joy in them, and I’m just finding ways to teach into what they’re reading. When I read/hear about a reader like your daughter saying “K bin” and not feeling the joy there, I feel like I’ve made the right choice.

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  8. I really like how your piece included the dialogue between you and your daughter. That is something I want to work on practicing as I write my own “slices.”

    I also live to recommend books to students, including my own kid. I think of myself as a book matchmaker, and it is one of my favorite parts of my job.

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  9. A reminder that teaching reading can be really hard. I feel for the teacher as she/he is probably doing what she thinks is best for her learning. Yet this slice is a wonderful reminder that reading is about joy, not levels. Way to go!

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