Stories and insights on excellent education.
It’s no secret that we love books. We take every opportunity to proclaim our passion for reading. We write books and blog posts and emails about it; we tweet and give presentations; we talk, and talk, and talk about our love of books. But we do more than talk about it — we act on it!
This Valentine’s Day, as we celebrate our love of books across the Success Academy network, I’d like to share some of the joyful ways we spread our love of reading.
“Public Displays of Affection”
Leaders and teachers participate in professional development focused around igniting passion for books and reading. In training programs like “Falling in Love with Books” and “Public Displays of Affection,” we plan ways to build a culture of reading in school communities and make time to read and understand books and poems as adults before presenting the material to our scholars. This enables us to transfer our enthusiasm and insight to kids and to respond authentically to them, and it gives us an opportunity to reignite our own love of books.
Kids “Shop” For Books
Every classroom in our schools has a library of up to 2,000 books. Schools schedule time each week for kids to book-shop — choose books from their classroom libraries to read at school and at home.
“Drop Everything and Read”
Events like “Drop Everything and Read” and “Everybody Reads”, give our schools the opportunity to invite families to join scholars and school staff for special reading time. Kids bring blankets, pillows, and favorite stuffed animals, and spill out of their classrooms into the hallways for some comfy quality time with their favorite books. Each school puts their own unique stamp on these events, but whatever form they take they have a huge impact on the school community, and they are easy to plan and set up.
Today, we held our first-ever “Drop Everything and Read” event at our network office, making time for reading in our busy day. Check out our Twitter feed for some great photos!
“What was the first book you fell in love with?”
Teachers encourage kids to suggest books to each other. They post these “scholar book picks” in classroom libraries or on bulletin boards. They set aside time each week for kids to recommend books to their reading partners or to the whole class. These book recommendations are meant to be short and sweet, simple ways to introduce a book to a friend.
Fourth grade teacher Candice Seagrave recently asked scholars, “What was the first book you fell in love with?” and we loved their responses:
“Frindle (by Andrew Clements) because it was just so funny. The little kid wanted to make his own words and I thought it was funny because you can’t do that. It wouldn’t catch on (the new words invented) I thought. But it actually did.” —Lorenda, fourth-grader at SA Harlem 1
“It was the Moonbear’s Shadow (by Frank Asch). I remember reading it in kindergarten. It was funny because the bear didn’t know he had a shadow and he got upset whenever it followed him. He thought there was another bear.” —Winter, fourth-grader at SA Harlem 1
Have you seen our bulletin boards? They’re quite amazing, and my favorites proclaim a love of reading with literary allusions, pictures of favorite characters, and lots of scholar writing and art about books.
“One School, One Book”
Our new schools participate in “One School, One Book.” At Success Academy, that means every class reads and discusses the same book at the same time. The adults read the book too, so they can engage kids in conversation about the plot and characters. Families also get involved, and the schools plan lots of special activities to incorporate the book into many parts of the day. We started doing this last year and plan to expand to include all our schools.
More Ways to Share Your Love of Books
We celebrate national Poem in Your Pocket Day every April, send a Success Academy poem of the day email to staff, participate in after-work book clubs with our colleagues, and more. Reading is incredibly important to our scholars’ academic and career success, but it’s also one of the great joys of life. We are constantly looking for new and fun ways to infuse that belief into everything we do, and we encourage you to do the same.
On that note, we’ve planned a 24-hour Valentine’s Day celebration of book love on our Twitter feed. Check it out and share the love!