Yesterday, February 18, the school was amazingly, beautifully quiet as all students, teachers, and administrators spent half an hour reading. It was almost magical.
Also almost magical was the introducing of books by African American authors to the students. Wednesday afternoon a fifth grade class came to me. During their check out time, the kids looked at my displays of books by African Americans and picked out ones that they thought they would like to read. I was so glad I had put out my multiple copies of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis because two girls chose copies to read. Later in the day, they came back with two classmates who wanted to read the same book. "We are going to read it," they said, "and then have our own book discussion." This was all on their own. I am proud and hope to hear soon of the success of their book discussion group. It could lead to even more discussions.
Other children have already come back to me to tell me how much they enjoyed what they read and asked for similar books to read over break. I was thrilled when an eighth grade boy rushed over to put dibs on a biography of Spike Lee. Another brought back The Old African by Julius Lester and stopped to tell me how interesting it was.
The only drawback to the day came with the realization (I keep forgetting this obvious fact) that if I pull out 200 books for display they will eventually all need to be put away. Although many of the books will go home with kids over the break, I put away an awful lot of books yesterday afternoon.