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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reading Partnerships: Talking that Grows Readers

Parole perdute
Photo Credit: Valentina_A via Compfight cc
Sometimes, the best part of a really good book comes AFTER you have finished the book.

Today, we read the last chapters in Stone Fox.  It's amazing how John Reynolds Gardiner was able to capture our hearts so intensely in only 83 pages!  As I closed the cover of the book and gently laid it on the table beside my rocking chair, I know we all were wishing for a little more -- just a few more pages, one more chapter.  Some readers even asked if there was a sequel to the unforgettable conclusion of Little Willy and his beloved dog, Searchlight.  

When I finish a great book, I often have that same emptiness inside.  We just aren't ready for it to be over yet!  Good readers, readers who share this craving for more, often fill that emptiness by talking about their books with friends, family, or fellow readers.  In this way, not only can we hang on to the story and our relationships with these characters for just a little longer, but we can also share our love with someone else.  Sometimes this sharing inspires someone else to read and love this book right along with of us.  And sometimes, these conversations strengthen our own love for this book by deepening our understanding of it.  As we go back through the story -- retelling pieces to others, remembering the details of our mind movies, revisiting the places we'd traveled and reliving the experiences we shared with favorite characters -- we're really working on our thinking about our reading.  

For all these reasons (and more!), we need reading partnerships.  Earlier this week, we launched our reading partnerships with an interview.  Readers were prepared with their reading notebooks, pencils, and a bank of starter questions as they tiptoed to the far corners of the room for their first of many meetings to come.  We spent time listening to each other talk about our favorite genres and books, declaring our goals as readers, and paying special attention to what we have in common with each other.  Along the way this year, partners will use a variety of tools to continue learning about each other and tracking our progress.  (Our first tool, reading logs, are particularly important, but we'll talk more about logging next time.)

Tonight, I stood barefoot in my kitchen, cooking dinner and thinking back on little Willy, Grandfather, Searchlight and Stone Fox.  Finally, when the emptiness in my gut grew to be too much to ignore any longer, I turned to Mr. Nash and said, "Did you ever read Stone Fox?"  With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat for the third time today, I told him all about what happened at the finish line.  And as our dinner bubbled and simmered on the stove, I watched his eyes grow wider and his heart skip a beat, and I knew he was hooked, too.  

Tonight, readers, tell someone about a great book you've read recently.  Tell them the best parts, your favorite parts, the saddest part, or a part you'll never forget.  And when you do, tell it to them in a way that makes them love it right beside you.  Because sometimes, readers, that's the best part!


  1. I love that Andrew not only reads, but is now talking about the reading. As we said our goodnight's last night, he told me about Stone Fox. I've read the book myself, so I felt his pain when he just even mentioned the title. At the same time, I was thrilled he was even thinking about the story hours after it had been read in class- a sign of a very good book, despite the tragic end. Good books ignite our minds AND our hearts! Lourdes

  2. Your students are so lucky to have such a passionate teacher! How could they not love reading? I certainly remember the feeling of emptiness and sadness when I read Where The Red Fern Grows to my 4th graders. I had to have one of my students finish the last couple of chapters for me!


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