Happy Valentine’s Day!

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bookandbliss.comI am completely biased, but Valentine’s Day is probably best spent in an elementary school. There’s a party, and LOTS of card giving! Hearts and chocolate and innocence. I love it.

I also love to share stories. Here are a few of our classroom favorites this year:

1. Love, Splat by Rob Scotton. The illustrations are delightful and funny! There is also Splat the Cat: Funny Valentine, an engaging lift the flap book, perfect for younger readers (but not so much for 3rd graders).

2. Happy Valentine’s Day, Dolores by Barbara Samuels. This is a new favorite! I immediately bought my own copy. The story and pictures are very simple, and it was a spot-on tool for teaching character development. We also made a LOT of inferences using the pictures.

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3. Valentine’s Day by Alice K. Flanagan. It was nice to add a NONFICTION book to our Valentine’s Day repertoire. Easily understood and lots of good vocabulary.

4. Valentine Hearts Holiday Poetry by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This I Can Read book is great for students to read on their own once they have heard it read aloud.

5. Arthur’s Valentine by Marc Brown. Classic.

Arthur's Valentine

Share the love! What are your favorite stories?

why books?

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Some of my first memories involve books–turning pages with tiny hands, pouring over pictures, hearing my mother read those stories over and over until I could tell them too. Words became a way to engage with the world, a way to make meaning at a time when everything was new. Do we ever really out-grow stories?

We are surrounded by them: newsfeeds, status updates, conversations, and articles. They make their way to us in texts, tweets, 6 second sound bytes. We are filled up with stories. We are motivated by them; we thrive on the details of people’s lives (fictional or our neighbors). Stories harness our emotional abilities–to empathize, to wonder, to respond. And stories satisfy our rational side–to question, to piece together, to infer.

Countless conversations with my husband start with, “So I read this article today . . .” and the story comes bubbling out. Because something deep compels me to add meaning to the story by making it a shared experience. Reading anything alone is nice. Reading with someone I respect and love is better. And reading with my roudy group of third graders is magic.

Really. Magic. As in, something that cannot be quantified or fully explained. Right now we are reading Matilda together (I’ll be talking about her more in later posts . . . can’t help it!) and with each new group of kids it is a completely new experience. The funny bits are funnier with 24 kiddos giggling along. The sad parts are sadder as you try to make sense of it. And even though we are all wrapped up in our own lives, for those few minutes we enter the same world. We step onto the same emotional page, and ride out the story–together.

As a reader, as a teacher, as a sister, as a wife, and one day as a mother, I believe in celebrating stories.

What will follow on this blog is a string of stories, new books and old books, that strike a chord in me. And I can’t help but want to make that story a thousand times better by sharing it . . . with you.