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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, July 2, 2013

GETTING OUR READ ON


Although I still have lots of reflecting to do on all I took in at the All-Write Summer Institute, I just can’t let the week I spent post-conference with our nieces and their friends at my dad’s lake house go undocumented. 

As usual, I put together “swag bags” for each teenager, filled with the kind of junk I refer to as aunt crap.  This year, however, instead of a “Bass Lake Hilton Swag Bag” label on each bag, I decided to do some teasing. 

You see, last year I included a book for each of them, thinking they might each need an excuse for some quiet time away from one another.  Three of the four picked up their books and read during last summer’s trip to the lake.  I counted the book choices as a success.

However, I recently found out that they have spent the year telling T (the one who didn’t read), “You know Aunt Christy hates you because you didn’t read your book, right?”  Well, this kind of teasing is too delicious not to take part in (after all, I teach middle school students—sometimes you have to be game enough to play along).  So, this year each teenager’s swag bag was labeled with a photo of him/her from last year.  Three of the four were pics of them reading from last summer.  Except for T, who had a pic of him making a silly face instead. 


Again this year, I gave each teenager a book.  Each was chosen even more carefully knowing their reactions and personalities a bit better from spending the week together last year.  Kadie got My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend (a book every young woman should read), Niki (who is dating a farm boy) got Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, K got Looking for Alaska by John Green (after devouring The Fault in Our Stars last year, it was the next logical choice), and T (who didn’t read last year and talks nearly nonstop about boobies) got The Downside of Being Up by Alan Lawrence Sitomer (I was pretty sure if he wouldn’t pick up this book, he wouldn’t read any book). 

Then something magical happened.  On day one, all four teens decided to start…reading.  Of course I collected proof—you can even see the lake in the background to reinforce how amazing it is that they chose reading as a pastime (not even as an escape from each other, which is why I originally thought to get them books).

In fact, T was so amused by his book that after trying to read on his own, removed from the group, he joined us at the table to read the entire first chapter of his book aloud for our entertainment.  After not reading last year at all, he finished his book the same day he started!  This is the stuff reading lives are built on. 

At one point during the trip, my niece got up from the lakeside table, grabbed her book and beach towel and said, “I am going to get my READ on.”  Yep, she actually invented slang to describe her reading habit.  Why would I need sunshine when I had words like those to warm me up? 











12 comments:

  1. What a great story, Aunt Christy! Love the photos of readers! I loved being aunt to 4 nieces and a nephew. We went to movies, plays, trips... but I don't remember giving them books.
    I love the fact that you're a bookie aunt!
    Bonnie

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  2. I love it! Love the teens reading, love the pictures, love the recommendations (that I will check out).

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  3. You have got them hooked! Those pictures make every teacher smile, best pastime ever. Pressure is on for what's going to be next summer's great read.

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  4. Wow... just awesome, Christy! They are so lucky to have an aunt like you!!! This is what I want for each of my students! I had quite a bit of success last year, but I still have a few kids who just didn't get hooked... will keep trying!!! (By the way, My Life in Black and White just got added to my to-read list -- you are a good recommender!)

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  5. Ahh...perfect. Really, does summer get any better than this?
    Ruth

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  6. I actually think you did it. With your great knowledge of all those YA books, you really did match them up well. And now they know that it can happen. They can lie down, sit, slouch, etc. without being 'connected' and just read. Love that "get my read on" from your niece. You are so thoughtful, Christy!

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  7. What lucky teenagers! My favorite line - "This is the stuff reading lives are built on." They will never forget the care you took to select each book for each reader.

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  8. I loved scrolling through the pictures annd seeing how intent your neices and nephews looked. Such a wonderful idea for the summer, those personalized swag bags full of delicious books. Hooray for Aunt Christy!

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  9. YAY! I love these photos of teens reading. What a fabulous gift you gave them - great books included!

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  10. Books are best gifts ever. Making the right match is a challenge. As the pictures prove, it was not a difficult task for you. My oldest (18) suggested John Green for me, and I admit I enjoyed reading his books. I wonder when the switch will happen and your young relatives will suggest books for you.
    Happy 4th of July!

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  11. LOVE your swag bags! They're fantastic ways to show your nieces and nephews how much you care about them as people (and to inspire them to get their read on). Love all the pics too!

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  12. You are such an awesome Auntie and person. The 'T' story is hysterical and it is so amazing that he also entertained all with his book. I'm going to get My Life in Black and White as soon as I get back home. I love hearing about books that I don't know about on the slice. I still love the YA even though I'm I'm 50 something. xo

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