What do Fred McKissack and Albert Einstein have in common? I think you will be surprised but this is my daily mantra. Read this quote and you will understand why you need to rush right out to your library and get one of Patricia and Fred McKissack’s books, Goin’ Someplace Special.

Referring to Albert Einstein, Fred remarks, “What should mankind be doing now that will benefit the future? He said to read to your children.” Patricia also shared that view. You must meet children right where they are. Stories, then, help develop children into adults. Children will respond in life with what they learn through stories. Patricia values what old stories can teach students and, also, what new stories can do.

Teaching reading is my passion, so after a long career of teaching reading to almost every grade, I now continue to teach at Mid-State Literacy Council. Adults who cannot read seek out Mid-State so that they can get the gift of literacy. Because I still need to be with younger students, I also teach reading in Bellefonte for kindergarten to third grade. What is the connecting thread? Students enjoy learning to read when they read what they enjoy!

  • CHOICE is critical. Find out what your student likes and find books in that area!
  • Read aloud to your students so they can hear language and learn how a good reader reads!
    Compliment your reader.
  • Tell your reader the books you liked to read and why you love reading now.
  • Talk about what you have just read together. Reading is language and we all need to talk about what we have read. Reading is a social activity.

I always start out the new school year with this lesson: I teach students how to choose just the right book to read. It is critical that students feel responsible for what they read. In other words, help them to own the reading. We want a reader to care about choosing a book as much as she/he would choose an article to wear or a food item to eat.

I give the student this list:

Choosing the “JUST RIGHT” book

  • I will look at the cover and read the title.
  • I will check out the author and see if I know or like him/her.
  • I will look through the book before I read it.
  • I will always look at the back of the book, or the book flaps of the book.
  • I will find out what the book is about and if it interests me.
  • I will consider the size of the print and the font.
  • I promise to do this every time I choose a book. I may change my book choice if it is not a ”Just Right” for me.

Then I ask the student to sign. We save the form with other important papers in the student’s personal folder.

I think I have just enough time to run over to the library to pick up a book to read over the holiday. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s any good historical fiction?

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