This spring I was voted in as president for the Maine chapter of the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German). It’s work I’m proud to do, but it’s not quite as glamorous an honor as it sounds, since ours is a small chapter, so there are few of us to do the work. Nevertheless, it puts me in touch with German teachers across the state and it’s a wonderful way to develop in my profession. Yesterday was an annual event we hold at the governor’s mansion (called the Blaine House) to honor the achievements of our German students. Our main speaker was Dr. Jay Ketner, the World Languages Specialist for the Maine Department of Education, but I gave a few remarks before his speech and seeing as this blog is all about a love of writing AND languages, I thought I would share it with my readers.
One of my Mother’s Day gifts today was time: a few uninterrupted hours by myself including time to read a slew of picture books at the local bookstore. Although it’s been a while since my last PB Review blog post, I have been reading a lot of picture books, I just haven’t had time to immerse myself in them enough to write quality reviews. So my family’s gift to me becomes my gift to you.
There’s a theme to these books: they are all written by people I consider as inspirations for my writing, two of whom I’ve actually met, and all of whom I follow on Twitter. I’ll say a little more about those connections in my reviews, so let’s get right to them:
When I was about 12, my parents and I went on a 3 week road trip across the country to visit my older sister in Colorado. In addition to my suitcase, I had a “carry-on” sized bag which was FILLED with books. I slowly went through them all on the course of the trip, reading my way though Indiana, Nebraska, Kentucky, etc. As a teenager, I remember staying up until 2am finishing a book one New Year’s Eve. Years later, I still consider myself a book lover, even though I don’t read nearly as much as I would like to. (I’m a teacher, so it’s really hard for me to find time outside of summer vacation).
The point here, is that when I hear people say they “don’t read” or “don’t like to read,” my heart sinks. I hear that from my students a lot, and it is like a punch to my gut, but since I don’t teach English, I try not to take it too personally.
When it’s your own kid? It’s a whole different story.
Thankfully, I haven’t yet heard the “I don’t like to read” line from my boys (they are 8 and 11), but the truth is, they are not yet truly “readers” in the way I would like. Up until recently, getting them to read was a real chore and there were many afternoons when I had to cheat a bit when filling out the dreaded “reading log” for school. It hurt.
Mind you, reading aloud before bedtime was different– from picture books to Harry Potter to our obsession now with Percy Jackson, they love hearing me read to them. They clearly have respect and interest in storytelling, so that helps. But a passion for the feel and smell of books? An addiction to grabbing the next book in a series and devouring it in a sitting? Not so much.
Until now. Without wanting to jinx anything, I can share that I’m starting to see the beginnings of a real love of reading in my boys, and for that, I am truly grateful to the authors of several fantastic series: