giving trees

It started rather slowly. I shared Ender's Game, and then Ender's Shadow, with a small, quiet student who sketched while I lectured and learned better when he did. I could tell by the way he drew the illustrations of the books for his presentation that they'd stuck with him. His Ender, blond with head bowed while they took the monitor off his neck, looked like him.

And then I loaned Pride and Prejudice to one of my seniors so that she would understand the allusion when I said a mutual acquaintance reminded me of Mr. Collins.

It began to build. When one of my juniors was going through a rough time at home, I lent her my copy of Matilda (a testament to how much I trust her). And I handed her Hunger Games and Catching Fire yesterday, promised that I'd give her the third before she was ready for it. She started reading Slaughterhouse on her own, on Google books, because of my tattoo, and was complaining about it cutting off after the first fifty pages. Once she pays off her library fines, she's checking it out from the school library.

I realized yesterday too that my Chinese student, still not proficient in the written form of English, might benefit from reading fun things at a slightly lower difficulty level. I tried to pawn off my extra copy of Diary of a Part-time Indian on him, but he vetoed it; I was able to get him to check out Ender's Game instead. This feels like a success, or will be if he likes it.

I already know the next student, a sophomore, that I'm handing the Hunger Games series to. I'm planning out without meaning to the next few titles I'm going to loan my junior, the one who reminds me so strongly of my far-away sister.

And it occurred to me: I don't have to only share with them the literature that they often get bored of and quit reading simply because it's homework. I have to do that too, but I can share with them my private shelves as well, sneak them the books that impacted me and wound their way into my psyche long before some of them were even born.


  1. I love this idea....the underground railroad of soul sustenance. I have stuff from my shelves in my classroom, too, and I have leant stuff before, but not all of it comes back. How do you ensure that it DOES return to you so the lending can continue? One of my teachers pulled me aside in Middle school and game me Dune; I never forgot that gesture, or him.

  2. I haven't worked that out, yet. I know that with my junior and the next sophomore that I'm going to give Hunger Games to that they'll read it quickly enough, and they have respect for books enough, that I'll get it back. My other kids I've just been handing them a paper with the title and author and sending them up to the library immediately so they don't forget.

  3. You can set up your own library system with 3 x 5 cards, if you want I can come by Monday and show you how I have done this similar kind of thing in the classroom. Its very similar, almost identical, to the system used at SAWP.

  4. I've seen this series recommended on three blogs I love now, so I guess I'm finally going to have to remember to load it onto my Kindle. I'm moments away from being done with the book I'm on. Don't let me forget!

    (See what I did there? Totally put it on you.)


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