The books that I hold deep in my heart didn’t win the Newbery Medal. I’ve decided to respond in a positive way by celebrating how one of those authors has inspired my readers.
For many of my fourth graders the first time they ever see a graphic novel is the same day they walk into the fourth grade on the first day of school. At first they don’t really know what to do. They look, but don’t touch. I can tell that they don’t believe that they are actually going to get to read books that look cool.
Many of my fourth graders read NOTHING but graphic novels for the first few weeks of school. Babymouse, Lunch Lady, Amulet you name it-they read it. I like my readers to try lots of different books, so I try to work in recommendations here and there. I know that if I’m patient they will start to branch out and try different books, so I leave them be.
Yesterday was the 89th day of school. It was fun to take a moment and look around the room. Much like day one in fourth grade, nearly half my class was reading Jennifer Holm books.
On day one, each of my Holm readers were devouring a Babymouse graphic novel. Yesterday, I still had a pocket of about five kids reading Babymouse, but I also had another handful engrossed in Jenni’s novels. A girl sat in the corner chewing on her nails as she neared the end of Penny From Heaven. Another, sat at her desk, with a look of shock on her face, as she meets Grandma Patience for the first time. A boy and a girl sat together on the carpet reading Turtle in Paradise. The girls wore a look of disgust on her face as Turtle’s mother sends her away, and the boy was smiling as he read about “The Diaper Gang”.
I’ve enjoyed watching my fourth graders move from Babymouse to Turtle in Paradise. It will be interesting to see what my classroom looks like when when we sit down to read in June. I wonder what books we’ll be reading, sharing, and falling in love with. I’m pretty sure that at least one fourth grader will be curled up with a Jenni Holm book.