Currently a department co-chair and co-director with the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project, Brian Kelley has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for over twenty years.

Flooding Desks & End Tables with Books

Flooding Desks & End Tables with Books

For many, summer provides time and space to read. But now that teachers are entering the twilight of summer--and planning for the upcoming school year--I am wondering if anyone else creates a book pile for back to school?

Not for the kids, for you. Just as we advocate to flood our classrooms with books for our kids, we also have to learn to take the time (and find the resources) to flood our lives with books. Immersing ourselves in literal book floods eliminates the convenient excuse "I do not have time to read," or "I only read to escape." 

Some have jokingly critiqued me by saying, "Must be nice to have that much time on your hands." I get no more time than anyone else. I think I have been become sharp at using time for a variety of opportunities--reading and writing headline those opportunities.

If a few books are within reach on our end tables at home and our desks at school, we are far more likely to pick one up and engage.

I have gotten into the habit (maybe this sounds familiar) of purchasing more books than I could possibly read at once. I take some of that surplus and create a small book stack--an intentional mix of professional and personal selections--to leave at school on my desk. I read them slowly--stealing five minutes here and ten minutes there. I dip and in and out of different texts. Certainly, I add to the pile as the year moves along.

I find that establishing a book pile for my desk at school puts fresh ideas and possibilities for mentor texts (passages) within arm's reach. I keep post-it notes nearby and find myself marking ideas for lessons or even sentences and passages to serves as mentor texts. While I still carry the book I am most absorbed with in my satchel, the two major landmarks in my life (home and school) each has its own book pile.  

Check your professional library. Is there a balance between professional books that are bundles of ideas, professional books that are steeped in pedagogy, as well as fiction and nonfiction for your pleasure and engagement as a reader and writer? 

Look at at the balance in my stack for the upcoming school year:

Keep a personal book pile visible...for you!

Keep a personal book pile visible...for you!

The truth is we need balance in many spaces of our personal and professional lives--our book pile is included!

When I am not intentional about my book stack, I lean more heavily towards titles making a case for change in education. Titles that challenge my thinking. At the very least, titles that are beautiful arguments in defense of adolescents and teenagers. Titles that aren't focused so much on things...or the writing...as they are focused on the young writers and readers in our lives. Those are the books I love. 

What is in your back-to-school book pile?

HOST A WRITERS CONFERENCE FOR STUDENTS

HOST A WRITERS CONFERENCE FOR STUDENTS

When Planning, Leave Room...

When Planning, Leave Room...