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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not Working = Reading

Teachers have the summers off. A common misconception. We are not at school every day. We are not grading or managing classrooms. We can meet a friend for tea or attend a conference without finding a substitute. But we really do work in the summers. We work to prepare for what we will teach and learn with another group of students.

For me, much of the summer work involves reading...and reading and reading. No complaining voice accompanies those repetitions. Not working in the summers in the formal sense means I have time to read for my work with students, families, and staff members during the school year. And that is how I have occupied many hours of the past week (the first away from school).

Numerous titles await their return to the public library (including the hilarious This is a Moose by Richard T, Morris and The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc). Mostly, I have been savoring Revolution by Deborah Wiles. The second book in her 60s trilogy, it is designed like Countdown, filled with photographs, speeches, advertisements, and articles from the time period. This historical evidence is intermingled with the historical fiction, transporting me to Mississippi in 1964 to experience Freedom Summer through the eyes of Sunny Fairchild, her stepbrother Gillette, and Raymond Bullis, a black about their age. So thoroughly immersed am I in their world that I have even been dreaming of them! I love the voices of those three young people and how the author seamlessly moves from one voice to another to show all sides of an encounter or issue. My emotions rage as I read in disbelief of the actions and statements of Americans against their fellow Americans. Through it all, I am carried by the tide of hope and the gratitude for those brave people who worked to bring freedom to all.

Early on, Sunny proclaims, "Sometimes you just need a book near you and you can't explain why." I can explain why I need a book closeby, but I could not help but admire this character who learns that lessons at a young age.

Another Note: The author's fabulous picture book (Freedom Summer) has long been a favorite for introducing civil rights to upper elementary students. 


  1. Books are good company. And they don't bitch!

  2. When I was in college I was told that writer John Milton took a year off, retired to an estate and did nothing but read. Don't know if it's true, but that sounds like heaven. Perhaps you should extend your summer reading, too!

  3. Heavenly summers for teachers who are passionate about their work...Are you vacationing by the water (photo) or is that the view from your home? I was just watching a show about the Freedom Riders in 1961...Yes, very hard to imagine, but progress has happened thanks to courageous people.

  4. Kate, I would love to extend my reading, but it probably would not happen until after this third son finishes college! I wish this were our view, Rita! We claimed it for a few days last week. Cove Point Lodge on Lake Superior.