When we can't read
I was reflecting as I finished my second "for fun" book of the summer on how little I read this school year. Or at least how little I reflected on my reading identity. Before the Covid virus I was reading but largely professional books and articles. I would read random titles to share with the class but my reading rate was certainly lower than years past. Kids have known me as the reading teacher. The one who loves books, loves talking about them and sharing them. This is all true. This year I just was not as engaged in it as years past. I shared books I had read previously, I engaged in discussions around books my students were sharing, when new books came into the classroom they were snatched up before I could read them anyway and then book talked and snatched up again. I was doing other things so at first I didn't notice how much things slowed. I started listening to audiobooks which was helpful but I am one of those people that just doesn't love an audiobook on the same level that I love a book in my hands. Reading this year was a more "careful" practice as I have seen Pernille Ripp refer to it, I took my time. Then Covid hit.
Covid Reading Life...
I think many of us hit a wall in our reading when Covid hit. I know for myself I could barely focus on reading and responding to the piles and piles of student submitted work coming in. I spent most of my day sitting in front of the computer and reading, the last thing I wanted to do at night was read more. I did set a goal to read a professional text and that really was a perfect reset for me. My personal reading life was still not the party it once was but getting back into the swing of things. I knew summer which usually was my reading time was soon approaching and so I just decided that I would read some books that I have had on my TBR for a long time and see where we go.
How the sun, coconut oil and books save my soul
My mental health is most definitely impacted by the seasons. Sometime I feel I have a solar powered soul. I love to tan, I love to sit outside and read. So this summer that is the goal. Work a little in the morning before it gets hot outside and then off to the yard to read. We have made some home improvements because of the Covid isolation and put in a ground level deck and dog run. This has given us the ability to be outside and just enjoy it rather than the dogs have the run of the place. Today marks the start of the second week of holidays. I am now on book three. I can feel things starting to click back into place. It was like my reading muscles took so much time away that I have to build them back up and the books I have read so far are my dumbbells. The Marrow Thieves sat on my shelf at school for a long time. Untouched because I knew there was some content I was concerned about and so until I read it I did not book talk it. Now that I have read it I will be using it in class in some form, adding to book clubs and generally celebrating it's excellence. I just finished Jason Reynolds, When I was the Greatest yesterday while sun burning in the pool. It is a spectacular story that celebrates so much about family, community, friendship, forgiveness, love. I LOVE the book. I actually don't think I have felt this strongly about a text before. I want all of my students to read it. One of my favourite people, the amazing Dr. Kim Parker has recommended the Boy in the Black Suit which I know I had and now can't find as a follow up. So to the books store I will go. I have a wonderful list of books to continue to work through. I feel like this is just a beginning of getting my reading groove back but here I am.
A few weeks back Matt de la Peña made a comment about getting our "reps" in in reference to reading. I love it because of my dual passions of the gym and literacy. Right now I am in the Hypertrophy stage. Building back the muscles and getting the reps in. I have a summer of reading and writing ahead of me. Reclaiming my love that Covid and anxiety tried to take from me. We have a lot of unknowns ahead of us. What school will look like in September being a big one. But what I do know is we are going to be going back to the basics and finding our identity as readers and writers and getting those reps in.