Ryan Dean West For the Win. Again.

Eight minutes into our ten minutes of daily reading, I heard a gasp.  A few more moments lapsed and, thinking it was one of those “one-time random noises” that happen in classrooms, I turned my attention back to my book.  However, muffled sighs and sniffles soon followed and with thirty seconds left in our Independent Reading time, a student was in full-blown tears.

My initial thought was that this junior must be crying because of peer drama playing out over Snapchat, Twitter, or some malicious group text.  I could not have been more wrong.  As I walked over to this student’s desk to speak with her, she yelled, “WHY DID IT HAVE TO END THAT WAY!?!?”

She was unapologetically heave-sobbing over Andrew Smith’s Winger.  

And my period 5 class was lucky enough to witness it.

This student, this reader, was so involved in the book and the characters that she could not help but be moved by it. She was also brave enough to stay in class and, without spoiling the story, immediately started talking about how she couldn’t believe what had happened in the plot.  She described it by saying, “I feel like I just lost a friend.”

What a spectacular moment to be a part of.

As a reader, I have always been moved by books, finding myself entangled in the lives of the characters, sharing their journeys, thoughts and emotions. But, many students have never had this experience.  They are reluctant or non-readers, haven’t yet found the right book, or aren’t engaged enough in books because they are reading assigned rather than self-selected texts. The students sitting in period 5 got to see, first hand, what becoming a reader looks likes.  And, they were inspired.

I absolutely fell in love with Ryan Dean this summer and had book talked Winger with my classes not more than two days before.  And here, falling in to my lap, was this perfect moment – this living proof of why books are so spectacular.  It is my most awesome “book moment” to date.

Ryan Dean West For the Win. Again.

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