Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trimester Testing & Kidlit Treasures

This has been a grueling week at school. I have 56 students and I love working with each one, but when report cards come due, that’s a lot of progress reports to write. And to prepare for those reports, I test each student to see how they’re coming along on their goals. It’s worthwhile; however, tedious for all of us.

On Tuesday, when I walked a first grade student to my room for testing, he asked if we could read the story about the kid with a really, really big voice. I wish you could have seen his excitement when he asked. He twirled once, squatted and hopped frog-like a few times and then started skipping backwards, all within about fifteen seconds. Landon does everything fast and when he is excited he speeds up. I hated to disappoint him, we’d have no time for a story, but all the same, I was happy to know he remembered Holler Loudly, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott. I read it last spring when he was in Kindergarten - I’ll have to get it from our school library again.

Students asked for stories all week, trying to tempt me away from testing: I held fast and they were cooperative. When I went to the middle school, I tried to get language samples from my students to see how their speech and language skills were progressing. I asked about school and usually got one-word responses; I asked about home and got a shrug and a grunt from one student and not much more from others; I asked about friends and got a few side-ways glances so I turned the conversation to books.  That opened a floodgate of language so I got what I came for. One student told me about a book he is writing. He detailed the plot with such perfect articulation and skilled language, I found he is ready to graduate from speech therapy. I’ll miss working with him.

I may not have been able to read stories to kids this week, but at home, I was able to read about kids’ books. Earlier this week I purchased Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit and it reminded me of why I love reading to, and writing for kids. Take a look at what I found in this treasure:

“ . . . I also like to extol the sheer potential of children’s books:

They turn people into lifelong readers, planting the seed early.
They stay with kids (we tend to fondly remember books from our childhoods).
They help kids relate (books can guide kids through their own turbulent coming-of-age waters).
They inspire kids to become better, stronger, braver, more confident, more goofy, more artistic, more imaginative people.

                              Quite simply, kidlit changes lives.”

So true, and I get to see it every day!

A few weeks back, after I read Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex, one of my students came to my classroom, dragging her mother behind her. She wanted to show her mom the book we’d been reading. Esmeralda pointed to the illustration of Mac and explained to her mom, “This is author. He wrote story.” Then she pointed to Adam and explained his role in making the book. Finally, she turned to her favorite page and asked me to read it to her mom who was still learning English. We may not have communicated perfectly, since I can’t speak Spanish, nonetheless, Esmeralda clearly communicated her excitement over the book and her mother was inspired to get more books at home.

Next week my testing will be over, the progress reports will go home and we’ll get back to life as usual in the speech room. We’ll all be ready for a good story and I’ll be on the lookout for more to share with my students. Through those stories, I’ll be able to work on grammar, sequencing, articulation, and other language skills. More than that, I’ll be able to introduce my students to other worlds, other lives and inspire their own creative endeavors. And who knows where that will lead them, after-all, “kidlit changes lives.”


  1. So moving to see the delight kids are taking in books. Nice post, Jeanette.

  2. Great blog! Thank you for articulating for me the reason why I write - and want to get published - picture books... to make a difference in children's lives!! :D

  3. Thank you, Michelle. It is amazing to watch the impact a book can have on a child. Keep writing!

  4. Thanks for another thoughtful blog entry, I do gain so much from your insight into children and picture books!