Slice of Life - Couch Potato to Marathon Reader: Building a Reading Community

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers on Tuesdays.  Join us each week and come to love this awesome writing community.

For the past three years, I have had the opportunity to serve on the Scholastic Book Fair's Principals' Advisory Board (PAB).  I have met principals from across the country with an enthusiasm and passion for connecting children with books.  I have also met some wonderful Scholastic Book Fair staff during this time as well.  However, I have developed a very special relationship with my local Book Fair Reps.

In February, I attended a PAB meeting in Orlando, Florida.  While there, we talked about reading communities, and helping children become independent readers, classroom libraries, and summer reading plans. I wasn't sure how I would apply what I was thinking about to real life, but I knew I wanted to do something.  Currently, I am working with about eight elementary schools and it means I need to be a bit more creative when implementing plans.

When I arrived home, I emailed one of my local reps, Heather Biggs and asked to get together. As we put our heads together, I thought it would be fun to bring together teams from each school that I work with and share with them some of what I learned.  Heather was up for the challenge.

Heather and I came up with the idea of using the Couch to 5K model as a theme for our meeting. We called it Couch Potato to Marathon Reader.  We also thought it would be fun if our presentation followed along with the theme.  We created a game board, and pieces to use as we talked about each area.

It is not easy getting everyone to attend a meeting afterschool, even when you offer food and goodies, but we did have a few schools show up.  The smaller number of participants allowed us to provide each school team with more individualized attention.

Each participant received smile stickers to indicate things that they have done or are trying to do in their classrooms or at their schools.  Items ranged from showing interest in developing a reading community (coming to the meeting) to bigger things like having a classroom library with more than 300 books or hosting a Family Literacy Night at the school.

After going through our presentation, we provided teams with a form that they could use to set some goals towards creating a reading community.  We asked them to work in their school teams.  Since it was a bit late, I really did expect teams to want to rush out.  However, I was super thrilled when they stayed and engaged in some very meaningful dialogue with one another and asked Heather and I about possible support.

When Heather and I took time to debrief after the meeting, we recognized that there were things that could be strengthened.  Yet, at the same time, we were thrilled for how the evening went and in the potential for future meetings. Though we have a ways to go, I will continue to bring this group together in a Literacy PLC to explore what it means to be a reading community.