So, I’ve been thinking about the books we read in language arts. We do not use a basal reader. We read novels (I don’t like the term “trade books” do you?) and teach skills through them.
It’s 5th grade. We’re not reading “the cannon.” We, my 5th grade teacher colleagues and I, make changes here and there as to the books we read. Sometimes a book just becomes dated or not appealing to our students. There are so many great books out there, we don’t need to keep something in the curriculum that is not grabbing people.
One of the books that we read is Tuck Everlasting. It is by no means new (published in 1975). The first year I taught 5th grade at this school I was dreading teaching it. I hadn’t read it since I was in middle school and had no fond memories of it, to say the least. I was lobbying for pulling it the moment I heard it was in the curriculum.
Then I reread it. It’s fantastic. Probably always was. I don’t know what my problem was way back when.
Since I love it so much, I sell it well, if I do say so myself. We have interesting discussions, do thought-provoking assignments, and generally enjoy ourselves as we read and talk about these wonderful characters and writing.
Yet, each year I wonder if the book is going to start to lose its appeal. And, every year I have students, boys and girls, tell me how much they love the book. It continues to be a favorite when I survey the class at the end of the year. (We have one more book to read this year before I give my survey.) Here are a few things students (boys and girls) have written when I have asked them to reflect on their reading:
- I think that this is the best book that I read this year.
- I love the story and that makes me want to read more carefully.
- I am doing a fantastic job. I got to read over and over to get things that didn’t make sense.
- Probably my best book yet.
- Overall this book is really one of my favorites.
- I think this book has been better for me than some of the other books.
- I have been enjoying this book a lot and have been reading over to make sure I know everything.
Maybe Tuck really is Everlasting.
(Photo by Jonas Lowgren used under Creative Commons license.)