Yesterday, Donalyn Miller, in a post on the Nerdy Book Club blog, confessed that she was in a reading slump. She stated that she loses interest after she starts a book and has even chosen to watch TV over reading! I read all this with relief, realizing I’m not alone. When I went back to her post later in the evening, there were ninety comments! Ninety! Almost all of them were from teachers who were also feeling overwhelmed by their other commitments and hadn’t had the time or energy to read much lately.
I bring all this up because, even though I have stacks of books everywhere, many of the books I tried to read last week have a bookmark after the first or second chapter. I’m afraid my computer is going to crash because I have so many tabs open to blogs I haven’t had time to read. Don’t even get me started on the newspaper!
My solution to this situation? A trip to the library. I know this seems ridiculous: Why bring in more books if you can’t finish the ones you have? Because my library has all the latest picture books and early readers. If they can’t pull me out of a slump, nothing can.
My favorite book from this visit was Penny and Her Marble (Greenwillow Books, 2013), by Kevin Henkes. It is impossible for me to overstate how much I love Kevin Henkes’s books. And Penny is the latest in a long line of lovable characters created by Henkes.
One of Penny’s most endearing traits is that she is self-reliant. Her problems are hers, and she solves them on her own. In Penny and Her Marble, she sees a beautiful blue marble, which seems to belong to no one, on her neighbor’s lawn and she picks it up and puts it in her pocket. Once she gets home, however, her conscience gets the better of her and she is haunted by the marble.
Penny never mentions any of her worries to her parents, yet they sense that something is bothering Penny. They support her in subtle ways, such as offering to bake her favorite cookies. Penny does the right thing in the end, and is rewarded for her honesty, but not in a preachy, LEARN THIS LESSON kind of way. Did I mention I am in awe of Kevin Henkes? How does he accomplish this? He never hits a wrong note and he completely understands children and how their minds operate.
When I began this blog, I did intend to write about how I would use certain books to meet the Common Core State Standards, and I do this often enough. And although this book could be used to address several first grade standards, I would read it aloud to kids just because I love it. I would read it aloud to them because Penny is an imaginative, creative character I’d want for a friend. And I’d read it to them because they will recognize themselves in Penny.
Don’t miss Penny’s other adventures in Penny and Her Song (2012) and Penny and Her Doll (2012). They are the perfect anecdote to any reading slump.
Dont’ forget to find out what others are reading today by visiting Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.