Of 104 students at our school, about 70 chose to fill the dining hall during my first trial of “open library” instead of recess time. They were buzzing with excitement and energy and NOISE because apparently reading is quite a loud event. “Olivier, look at this one!” “Headmistress, what does this word mean?” “Headmistress this book has monkeys in it!” “The main girl in this book has the same name as my sponsor in the US!” “Can we trade now?” “When can we read again?” These are some of the words I heard whispered, spoken, shouted.
And to think that the one shelf of children’s books we have at our primary school was being locked up in the head teacher’s office for fear that, if put into the hands of children, they would be destroyed! In some ways, it’s true. In the excitement books were dropped, pages turned roughly as if containing a secret treasure that must be quickly found, covers bent in the shuffle of things. But is we don’t put these books in the hands of children, we destroy their PURPOSE, and that it much worse an offense.
Many of the children were truly sitting and reading quietly. Others were more interested in looking at pictures because they don’t have the English vocabulary built up to really read them yet. But for both I was SO excited to see children so eager and excited about reading. I can’t wait to foster this and develop it more next year with having sustained silent reading time each week in English classes, more open library days (for our one shelf of books haha), emphasis on phonics in lower grades, and emphasis on new vocabulary in upper grades including a “word of the day” to be defined and used throughout the day. Take a look at the video!Quieting them down would have been like hushing thunder when you need rain