Friday, May 10, 2013

Using the INSIDE of a book!

About a month ago, I bought the book One for the Murphy's at our school book fair. I had heard a lot of buzz about the book on Twitter, and wanted to know what everyone loved so much about it. As I was reading the book, I began underlining things I loved. I underlined words or phrases that resonated with me. I added post-its with questions on them that I wanted to discuss with my class. This was my copy of the book, so I felt free to write in it, and explore my own thinking. I also did not want to forget what I had read, so I could discuss it later and remember my thought process in that moment. When I finished the book, I came to school the next day and started giving a "book talk" about how much I loved it, and I was thrusting this book into their hands encouraging my group to read it. One girl in my class wanted to read it, and I handed it over to her. As I handed it over I told her, "I've made some notes in this book. Feel free to add anything you want to the notes, or make notes yourself. You may write directly in the book." She looked at me, puzzled, but took the book. A week later she returned it to me. There were notes in it! My heart sang! It was like a  messaging system between us. I knew what she thought, and she knew what I thought. I honored her quiet, shy demeanor by allowing her to share deep thoughts without having to say them. I also knew what she found important, and how truly touching this book was for her. She also knew how deeply it had affected me.

As a teacher, I know when I read a book, the parts of a story that are important to me are not necessarily what the children find important. To share a deeper sense of understanding of a text, try using "book talks", or "book club" thoughts inside a book. Allow your students to write their thoughts and feelings in the margins of the text. Let them underline, highlight, and comment. You will love seeing their responses, and other students will be able to share that experience when they pick up that book. I only wish I'd thought of the idea sooner. Here are some photos I captured of my student's responses in the book One for the Murphy's

Oatmeal for brains is underlined. She comments, "Imagine that"    

"Wow if I were Carley no matter how humiliating it is I would tell Toni the truth cause they are best friends.

"Best book ever. I cried twice, it's such an awesome book."

Well, there you have it! Using the INSIDE of a book to engage your readers. I hope this strategy proves useful to you all, and you begin to allow your students the freedom to share their thoughts and feelings with you, and their classmates. Be inspired!

xo & Happy Friday!


  1. I absolutely love how this played out for you. I love that it was natural and authentic. I love how your students are having private and personal book conversations with you even when you're not there. Here's the problem...I'm scared to write in my books and scared to open up a "Now we write in books" option for my class. BUT, I am not too scared to start small. I might try it out, talk it out with my class, and see how things unfold. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. That's exactly it. Start small, with books you select. Please share how it went for you!