|All smiles in the book signing line|
|Playing with the jazz band|
|What if they don't read? Ha!|
But so much of what we do rests on the relationships we have built with our students. They trust us to put good books in their hands. They know we will be honest and tell them about books we loved. In reciprocity, we offer them choice. At countless conferences we have stood in front of teachers and administrators, spoken about our school-wide reading initiative and declared, "It's voluntary and it works!" How was this any different?
|Book discussion group|
Jordan Sonnenblick is the quintessential YA author. His books are about real kids who face unexpected challenges. They are honest and laugh-out-loud funny. They are emotional. They are engaging. They are short. Sonnenblick captures the voice of the sarcastic, impulsive, ego-centric adolescent the way only a former middle-school teacher could. He writes so well, in fact, that one Crazy Reading Lady took a break from one of his novels declaring, "I can't deal with this kid right now. I have to put up with obnoxious teenage boys all day long. I'm not spending my free time listening to this one." He's that good.
|Are those 8th graders smiling? Nah.|
Fun fact: that same book, Notes from the Midnight Driver, was the far-and-away favorite of our 8th grade students. Go figure.
In our effort to turn this author visit into a full-on Sonnenblick-a-thon, we hosted read alouds, Stop Drop and Read Days, and two book fairs. We ran teaser videos on the news. We peppered the hallways and cafeteria tables with a rotation of posters bearing book covers, quotes, summaries, and reviews. It has been rumored the Crazy Reading Ladies used up a year's worth of poster printer ink in preparation for this event, but c'mon. You can't believe everything you hear in middle school.
|"The Thunderclap" interview team|
Three weeks removed from Sonnenblick-a-palooza, we have yet to find the right words to capture what happened on April 12th. The presentation he gave - just a man and a microphone - was one of the finest our faculty had ever witnessed. They are still talking about it. Thank you, Mr. Sonnenblick, for the wisdom and life lessons you so skillfully swathed in humor and shared with our students. Only a former middle school teacher could command an auditorium like that.
|We are writers|
And maybe, because of his years spent in the classroom, he can read our hearts when our words fall short. Perhaps he knows the value of validation he bestowed upon our group of writers. As part of his day at our school, he met with a selection of students - nominated by their teachers - and taught an hour-long master class. To watch those kids learn about narrative writing techniques and begin to craft an original piece right before our eyes was most impressive. We held back tears as four students read their work aloud, feet away from a best-selling author.
|Moments like this|
|Jordan Sonnenblick and two CRLs|
|Little Crazy Reading Ladies|
In Mary's office is a wall of photos, taken of starstruck CRLs with authors we love. Let us tell you, that nervous stomach and momentary loss of intelligent speech you experienced? That's normal. Those never go away. It is our hope that this experience will be the first of many in their lifetime. May our students grow to be readers who seek out good stories and friends to share them with. May their lives be filled with books and butterflies.