Even though I am an avid reader, whenever someone asks me to reflect on books that have influenced me in some way, I am not often ready with titles or takeaways. And I wonder why that is. Sometimes it might be because when I read I am in the moment. And then the moment passes. When I’m reading, nothing else matters. Then, when I’m done, I take a moment to savor the book before picking up a new one to read. And, then I am in the moment again with a new situation, a new set of characters, a new idea to consider or an old one to reimagine.
When I read books, I will sometimes write a brief review on @goodreads as part of my personal yearly book challenge. I rarely mark up novels unless I know I will be discussing them with a friend. But when I read professional books that belong to me I tend to mark up the pages with notes and commentary as I read. If I don’t own the book, then I take notes in a notebook, notepad or on sticky notes. And, while all of these ways of documenting my reading are helpful to me as a reader, they are often in-the-moment and later become context-less. I think what’s￼ missing for me is documenting the takeaways, the lessons or the important ideas that a book brings to my life.
And, this reflection brings me to a new practice I’m going to engage in with my students and by myself. After finishing a book, I will write down the takeaways or applications to my life from the book. It could be the “so what?” and “now what” thoughts that are an important part of what it means to reflect on experiences, books and life, in general.
So, as part of the common blog post topic of #TheCompelledTribe for this month, I will mention some of the books I’ve been reading lately and why I consider them influential to my personal and professional growth. It will be my “so what” contribution to celebrating books and reading.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds – My takeaway: we all deserve second chances.
Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno – Home really is what you make of it. It’s not the place or the comforts, but the people that make a home a place we want to return to time and time again.
Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith – Canada started on the path to reconciliation in 2008 with an official apology by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the survivors of residential schools. My school board is heavily invested in education for all that includes recognizing and celebrating the contributions of indigenous and aboriginal peoples, as well as recognizing and educating students about the violation of the basic human rights of this segment of the Canadian population. This book offers an important contribution to the education of all students in the middle grades with respect to Indigenous peoples. I absolutely loved it. I will be referring to it all year with my grade 5 students.
Although I typically read a mix of professional books, middle grades and adult novels, this list reflects a small portion of the books I may be reading in any given month. Nevertheless, they are representative of the kinds of books I gravitate to as a reader.
I look forward to reading about your reading takeaways of the moment. Please leave a comment below.