Saturday, May 26, 2012

It Only Takes a Spark

So, in my last post, I told you about the most beautiful book riot I'd ever seen.  Well, it's the only book riot I've ever seen, and it happened to be beautiful.  Wondrously so.

I've been writing this blog for just around two years, and that post is, by far, my most popular with almost 95 pageviews in just under a week (It doesn't sound like much, but, believe me... it's huge.).  This is funny to me as each time I read over it before publishing, it just didn't feel right.  I didn't feel as though I'd perfectly captured the moment.  I'm not sure, however, that any number of words ever could.  But somehow, it struck a nerve. 

Actually, I don't think it was the post at all.  I think the Book Giveaway in itself struck a nerve.  A great nerve.  A friend of mine reposted it on Facebook (thanks, Debbie Schmidt), and someone I don't know at all decided to give away books on her next trip.  Our school's lovely theatre arts teacher and her boyfriend picked up and went to Half-Price books so that she could purchase books for students to choose as their end-of-year gift.  Other teachers, from other schools, in districts far away filed the idea for next year.  Throughout our school, teachers and principals alike have been astounded to see our Mustangs with their new books.  The kids have shown them off proudly, compared with one another, and then promptly stuck their noses between the pages.  One of my fellow English teachers witnessed a child's heartbreak over not getting his copy of The Hunger Games and relayed the story to her college-age son who promptly told his mother that they'd just go get him a copy at Wal-Mart.  You wouldn't believe the smile that $6.95 can buy.  Another of my fellow English teachers saw a student not choose a book (a student that we debated over whether he'd buy in or not, really), and when another young lady found out, she traded a bag of Takis for him to go choose a title that she'd wanted but couldn't get because she was only allowed one choice.  A bag of Takis buys a pretty good smile, too.

It was a huge risk -- that Giveaway -- and I had steeled myself for "The Look" many times leading up to it.  You know... that "what-would-I-need-with-a-stupid-book" face.   But it never showed, even from those few that didn't choose a book.  No eyerolling.  No exasperated sighs.  Just smiles.  And isn't that the only look that truly matters?

It certainly matters to my shopping list.  I'll give you one guess what you're all getting for Christmas.  Or your birthday.  Or next Wednesday.  I'm prepared to risk "The Look" from now on because this week, I saw a hundred more smiles than I could have ever wished for.

Thank you all for reading and sharing in the joy my students and school have had this week.  I pray that this small reading revolution will grow and continue for a long time after this school year has ended.  But my truest wish is that my sweet little rioters have given you some hope or some laughter and possibly even sparked an inspiration for you to spread the love of reading to all those children hungering for it. 

Pootie recommends Scat by Carl Hiassen. 
Maggie the Cat (in the background) is clearly finished with her selection.

UPDATE:  That lovely theatre arts teacher, Angela Stidham, just sent me this message:

".....and after a long, hot, joyous day at the zoo Friday- those students of ours that couldn't afford a yearbook, ran around the gym asking their friends & teachers to sign their new book. Oh yes they did! :-D You know that long after they've finished reading that novel our school so generously gave them, they'll still keep it forever now because it's filled with the signatures of their classmates from 2012: the year they were given the gift of reading. I thought that was pretty cool."

More than just pretty cool.  It's the beginning of a wildfire on the horizon.  I feel it. 


  1. OH Deanna, Just when I thought the story could not get any better. You lift my heart with your school children's joy. I know you have made a lasting impression on their lives.

    Bless you,

    Debbie Hamilton

    1. Thank you so much, Debbie. My school is so different than what Haley and I knew as children, but I truly feel called to be there. Thank you for reading and always being so supportive. I'm not surprised though... You've been as such for almost 30 years now.

  2. Trendsetter, rock star, wonderful, inspiring teacher? Which title fits you? I say ALL of them.