THE VALUE OF A 60 CENT BOOK
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 experienced 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 could 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.