Friday, June 7, 2013

Welcome Summer!

When I closed my speech room door on Friday I closed a year of speech services at Redwood Elementary. It feels something like closing a good book. I’ll hold these young “characters” in my mind long after they leave our campus. Some of them I’ll see again next year but others are moving up to another school or off to another city. I’ll miss them. But many have left me with mementos to remember them by:

And many authors have left these students with treasures to remember over the summer and into the coming years. About a month ago, one of my second grade students drew a blockish bird with skinny legs and a lot of charm. When I asked Bodie where he learned to draw like that, he said, “You know, that book.”

I didn’t know. But the bird looked strangely familiar and before long I remembered, Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Keith Bendis. Bodie had drawn a Calvin look-alike! I introduced the story over a year ago and haven’t had it in the speech room since that time. Bodie doesn’t own the book but he hasn’t forgotten the adorable Calvin or the story.

A few months before that when Landen, a young first grader, asked for the book about the really, really loud kid I knew exactly what he was thinking of – Holler Loudly, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott. I read that book in the spring of 2012 when Landen was in kindergarten and then donated it to our school library so other kids could check it out. I don’t think I ever saw a child more excited about a book than Landen was when we read this story in his kindergarten year. He felt a special bond with Holler.

The kids often ask for stories we’ve read in the past or ask if they can make up their own, modeled after a favorite book. On Thursday of this week, when the kids were cleaning out their folders, seven-year-old Esmeralda ran across her story, “Creepy Bananas!” A smile spread across her face and her eyes widened in pleasure. She wrote this tale last September after we read Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown. She plans to add more details this summer so she tucked the pages back into her folder and took it home. I hope I’ll see the revised version next year.

I’m going to follow Esmeralda’s example and work on my own stories this summer. To fully immerse myself in these projects I’ll be taking a blog-vacation, but I’ll be back in the fall. And since, when I write, I like to read the best stories I can get my hands on, I am likely to discover more wonderful books. When school is back in session and the students walk through my door, I’ll be ready with a new supply. And soon thereafter, I’ll have more speech-room stories to share with you.

Have a wonderful summer!

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