a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS
After being out for the Illinois Reading Council Conference last Thursday and Friday I was scrambling to get settled Monday morning. 

The guest teacher left no notes regarding what was covered.  I was hearing from students what still needed to be accomplished as they passed me in the hallway before the bell.  My plans for the day were already being re-written in one corner of my brain while the rest of me was trying to be present, to greet the faces I had missed for so many days. 

That’s when M, a member of my Voices Strong class, walked up.  He held a book out to me and asked, “Mrs. Rush, have you read this book?”

Let me just tell you, M did not start the year off as a reader.  When he finally did start to take off and devour books they were all graphic novels.  The first book in prose to capture his interest was ZomB by Darren Shan.  It is a deceptive novel because, although it begins and ends with zombies, the majority of the book is the story of a kid named B coming of age in the midst of a racist, abusive, alcoholic father.  It is a thoughtful book—far more thoughtful than it appears, containing a plot twist that challenges even experience readers.  Needless to say he has grown this year as a reader.

I looked down at the cover and masked my surprise.  I shook my head no, “I am familiar with the book, but I can’t say I ever read it.  Why?”

“My grandma gave it to me.  It is old.  It was published in 1963.  This book only cost 60 cents back then!”  He can barely contain his excitement over this treasure.

“That is before I was even born!  I think that the story is even older than that.  1963 must be the publication date of that particular edition of the book.  Are you going to read it?”

“Yes!  It looks good.”

“That’s great!  I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it.”

I took another look at the cover before he walked away.  I tried to play it cool on the outside, but inside I was one giant smile. 

I don’t think M will finish this book.  Nor do I think M will enjoy this book.  But none of that matters.

What matters is that M’s grandma gave him this book—they had a conversation about books and a book passed from the hand of grandma to grandson.

What matters is that M appreciates the age of the book—he is not turned off by its history.

What matters is that M is going to open the cover and willingly wrestle with a text because it means something to him.

What matters is that M believes he is a reader who is capable of reading this book—so does his grandma.  So do I. 


  1. Oh my! I enjoyed waiting for the book reveal at the end. Way to go M!

  2. What a story of triumph! Your inside smile must have been busting to get out. I have a few books from book orders when I was in elementary school. Cost: twenty-five cents, and I had to beg for that.

  3. That was a surprise! I agree what matters is he is capable!

  4. Love your set up! I to enjoyed reading the post and guess at what that book might be.

    Yeah for M!

  5. That's awesome. I hope to hear the after story - does he try it out? Will he wonder what his grandma was thinking? Will he enjoy some of it? Time will tell, but I love M's excitement and yours as well.

  6. I laughed out loud t the end of your post. Thank you for that! Great job making a reader out of someone who was not. What an incredible gift you have given to him!

  7. Powerful. You have given him a life-long gift of loving to read. Transferring reading between generations is powerful. Love your storyline set-up.

  8. Christy, this is beautiful, brought tears to my eyes. What a gift you were given with this event. You led us to the end wonderfully. I was on the edge of my seat! How great it is!

  9. I hope that, even if not now, one day he will read the book. I like how you started with the story and finished with your thoughts about what matters.