Four restful days in Ubud, Bali . . . just a 2-1/2 hour flight from Singapore, yet a world away. This was pure, unadulterated bliss!
It’s really not cool — not at all — to cry in front of 8th graders. So I didn’t. But today I came mighty close. Today was the last reading of Cynthia Lord’s Touch Blue, a novel I chose carefully as our debut read aloud for the year. As we gathered on the carpet, Reader’s Notebooks ready for response, I proceeded to read the last two chapters. It was magically quiet as we stepped inside Tess and Aaron’s world for one last summer day. I read the last sentence in its brilliant three word simplicity, then closed the book reverently. Silence — for a good 2-3 seconds (which can seem really long) — followed by spontaneous, heartfelt applause. Eighth graders generously clapping at the end of a read aloud. Just because.
It’s a privilege to share story with kids, even “big kids.” And it’s a pleasure when I observe teen readers already picking up Ms. Lord’s Rules because they know and trust this author will deliver a good read.
Silvya already asked what I was going to read next. I don’t know. For now, I’ll linger in the afterglow of this book for a few days, knowing the commitment of time for read aloud and response has been rewarded.
Don’t let anyone tell you 8th graders are too old to succumb to story!
Some day, when I return to Bellingham, I hope I’ll remember unexpected pleasures such as these:
— “I love you, Katniss!” shouted at the top of his lungs by 13-year-old Siddhanth (better known as Sid) as he lunged off the Tower and plunged into the sea at Telunas a week ago. This is a kid who not only devoured The Hunger Games trilogy, he bravely admitted to the entire class that he read–and loved–all of the Twilight books (which set off quite a commotion — and permission for a few of my other guys to admit they read ’em too!). Sid is an avid reader, a gifted poet, and he lights up a stage as an actor/actress (as we discovered during skit night at Telunas when he stole the show performing a female-jive version of Little Red Riding Hood). Sid’s a gutsy kid who’s earning acceptance for his unique talents — I’m fortunate he’s in my class.
— Catching Mallari under my desk when I returned from lunch. When I asked what she was doing, she sheepishly admitted she’d “stolen” our one-and-only copy of Cynthia Lord’s Touch Blue because she needed to find out what was happening to Aaron and Tess, the main characters. Don’t (ever) let anyone tell you that 8th graders are too old to listen to a story, especially one with characters they care about. Yesterday afternoon as I hustled to return a book to the library minutes before class, another student stopped me on the stairs: “Are you going to read Touch Blue today?” Our ritual in RLA 8 is the read aloud three times a week — but now that we’re just six chapters from the end, they want more. How satisfying is that?