Eavesdropping on mothers will reveal that their conversations are usually about their children. Discussions center around what their child is doing or not doing. The return comment is, “Don’t worry. It’s just a phase they’re going through.” One of my favorite Mary Englebreit‘s greeting cards shows a picture of a mother sandwiched between two “out of space” teenagers. The words, “This too shall pass.” are along the bottom of the illustration. Those biblical words are a source of great comfort if the particular phase is unpleasant. The thing is, phases aren’t exclusive just to children. No matter our age we all are going through some kind of phase. This is my excuse for the times the last few months I’ve parked myself in front of the television. I’m going through a phase. For the last few months I look forward to Friday night because…I hate to tell you…here goes…Say Yes to the Dress is on. The thirty minute show chronicles the experience of brides on the hunt for the dream wedding dress. Stories of each girl are weaved into the wedding dress buying experience. The show takes place at Kleinfelds in New York. The bridal store boasts it has the largest collection of dresses in the country. The show begins with consultants receiving advice to best serve their hopeful brides. Consultants have a limited amount of time to get to know the bride. What is her price point? Sweetheart neck? Princess gown? Mermaid? Lots of bling? Empire waist? Strapless? Lace? Consultants not only deal with a bride but all the people she brings with her to the appointment.
Several thoughts walk across my mind during the show:
She is buying a second wedding dress to wear during the reception?
The wedding is costing $500,000. What do they do for a living?
I think this might be a fun job to have.
Consultants pull dress after dress…they are after these words, “I love this dress.” Big smiles, glowing faces, mother’s and father’s tears usually preface the question, “Are you saying yes to the dress?” A tense moment until the bride responds, “Yes, this is the dress.”
Wait…I do have this job. Ready or reluctant, proficient or struggling, adult or child readers walk through the door into the Literacy Room. Our Literacy Room is another place besides the classroom and school library where students and teachers can “shop” for books. My job is helping them to say yes to a book. Often it is a student I don’t know very well. Sometimes they come in with their classmates and can be influenced by remarks. “That’s a baby book.” (referring to Thomas the Train) These are first graders! I have to come to the rescue “No, it is not a baby book. I love Thomas the Train.” Another reader admits, “I like Thomas the Train too.” Saved! The young reader takes the book. I’ve listed some of the questions I ask as I discover what the reader is looking for.
What have been the best books you have read so far? What made those the best books for you?
What authors you have enjoyed in the past?
What kind of movies do you like to watch? tv shows? (This will give me a clue to what genre to lean towards.)
What kind of video games do you like to play?
What would you like to become an expert at?
What are you looking for? A book for a research project? A reading practice book? A sad story? A funny story?
I pull books like a Kleinfeld consultant pulls dresses. I show the “client” the cover, read the jacket, tell about other readers who have read and enjoyed the book. Just like at Kleinfelds I’m asking,” Is this your book? and I wait for the words I want to hear, “Yes, this is the book.” and later I hope I hear, “I love this book. ” For those reluctant readers I know finding the book will lead to “Yes, I love to read.” Sweet words. I know it will make a difference in their lives. For me, it happened in second grade…The Boxcar Children and I haven’t stopped reading since.
What books are you, your students, or children saying yes to?
P.S. Check out the link if you are a Mary Engelbreit fan. She has a blog. Love her new illustration, “Keep Your Wits About You”.