A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
One of the first questions I ask someone that I’ve decided I want to get to know better is, “What was the last book you read?” Sometimes, people have answers right away and other times, people struggle to answer this question. They can’t remember the last time they read a book. I always ask them “Why?” and the answers come in about two varieties. There are the people who don’t have time. There are the people who don’t like to read. I immediately switch into my own book pusher mode. It’s as though in my mind I begin scrolling through lists of their likes and their dislikes and I try to match it up with books that I have at home.
My room is full of books. I can’t sit in my desk chair for all the books. I don’t have enough bookshelves for all my books and I have to stack them on my bedside table, my desk, my plant racks, my radiator (only in the summer because I don’t want to start a fire when it’s on). I have book hidden in every nook and cranny. If you look under my bed, I have a hat box filled with books and in my closet, there are more books on top of my dresser and yet, sometimes I worry that I don’t have enough to start a classroom library. I loved reading Allen’s article, “Potato Barrels, Animal Traps, Birth Control, and Unicorns: Re-visioning Teaching and Learning in English Class” and how Allen got kids to care about books. All of her students had a competition as to which class could bring in the most class and it’s a wonderful story of a shift in a classroom from dreading having to pick up a book to having books become something of great value. I want to do something like this for my own classroom. I’m curious as to what books the students would bring in.
I have a professor, Dr. Ellington, who started each school year with a book on every desk. She gave her students a minute or two with each book before they had to pass it to someone else. She did this ten times and by that time, almost every student had a book they seemed interested in reading. I want to do this with my classroom as well. I hoard emails from goodreads.com that have book recommendations in them and they become a bit like my summer reading list. I want to find each student a perfect match. I want to find their soulmate with books. I sometimes consider giving my students a questionnaire at the beginning of class and having a book ready for them by the next day – like online dating, but with books.
So, as of right now, the thirty books I would have out on my students’ desks on day one would be:
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
4. Beauty by Robin McKinley
5. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
6. Youth in Revolt by C. D. Payne
7. Abarat by Clive Barker
8. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
9. The Hobbit by Tolkien
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
11. Frost on My Moustache by Tim Moore
12. Boy by Roald Dahl
13. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
14. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
15. Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts
16. Rapunzel’s Revenge by Dean Hale and Shannon Hale
17. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
18. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
19. Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
20. Collection of Poetry by Emily Dickinson
21. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
22. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
23. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
24. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
25. Submarine by Joe Dunthorne
26. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
27. Dracula by Bram Stoker
28. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
29. That Summer by Sarah Dessen
30. Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
Which would you chose? What books am I missing?
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Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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