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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Need Creative Ideas....for 1st Grade Book Talk

I'm a little stumped stressed thrilled. I was just helping my first grader's classroom celebrate 100 days of school. During my visit, middle child's teacher asked if I'd like to come into the classroom in the near future and talk to the kids about books.

"Of course," I said. Already, I was mentally preparing what kind of books would be great to share with the children. Then Ms. Teacher dropped the bomb on me.

"Middle child is unhappy because most of the children throw the books around," she said and gave me her best 1,000 watt smile. 

"I thought it'd be a great idea if you could talk to the kids about the right way to treat books."  What?  

"Uh. Sure," I said, filing away Ms. Teacher's bait and switch hook trickery for future use. We agreed this Friday worked for both of us.

So, I ask you my creative friends, what in the world would get 21 six and seven-year-old children, half who probably eat jumping beans for breakfast, to listen to a talk on taking care of books? I have a half hour-- 30 minutes -- 1,800 seconds -- to either sink or swim. What would entice them to care about books, if they don't already?

I was going to go all dramatic and have the kids throw some old books on the floor and then stomp on them to get their aggressions out. But the idea of it makes me ill. Then I was going to have them create their own books to see if the kids could take care of them until I see them again the next week. But, I'm not sure these are the right things to do with this class.

I can't imagine there are any books out there on this subject for first graders, but if any of you know any, please let me know. And if you have any creative ideas to wow this crowd, throw me a lifeline. Please!!!  I am afraid.


Sara said...

I'm sorry, but I'm laughing. Can she really mean it? Kids throw books in her classroom?? And you're supposed to stop them?

Perhaps a treacly book called "A Ball is to Throw; A Book is Not, 'tho."

I really, really hope you get a terrific book idea out of this presentation. In fact, I would demand it as payment. :)

HipWriterMama said...

Oh, Sara. I love your title. It just cracks me right up.

I'm afraid she really means it. My daughter's teacher is sooooo nice...she used to be a preschool teacher.

Problem is, what works for preschool does not work for first graders.

Megan Germano said...

I'm sorry, I am thinking the same thing as Sara, Huh??
But I do really think the best way to show that care for books is important is to have them create their own books to care for. OR!!! I just got this idea have them bring their favorite book from home. They could talk about what makes it their favorite and how they keep it nice. Maybe even show your favorite book and how you keep it nice so that it will always be there for you. They gotta own it for it to be real.
I am sure the teacher had the best intentions, but it sounds like she couldn't think of how to do it, so she pawned it off on you ;)
Megan Germano
Read, Read, Read!

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Hmm. Maybe you could read Oliver Jeffers's The Incredible Book-Eating Boy? I know the kids are not *eating* the books, but there is that lovely illo near the end where a book says something like, maybe you shouldn't eat me so other people can read me, too. Alright, it's a stretch, but at least you'd get to read them a good book!

Becky at Farm School said...

I would seriously consider throwing this back to the teacher, reminding her that lessons like this are best reinforced daily by parents and the teacher. I have a sad and sneaking suspicion that many of these kids are growing up in homes without books.

I'd tell the teacher that you'd help make a plan for her to do this behind the scenes (suggesting more books for the classroom library, maybe instituting a weekly person to look after the books, drafting a letter to send home to explain how kids without library cards can get them, maybe a field trip to the local library, etc.), but you'd like to do a more book (vs. book care) related talk.

But I'm ornery that way...

Good luck!

PJ Hoover said...


Make up some "dummy books" with big googly eyes and faces? Each kid gets one. Let them name their book? Let them sign each other's books a la yearbook style.

And don't forget the lollipops.

Tricia said...

I'd also recommend reading. I'd pair the Jeffers book with Sierra's Wild About Books. In it, the librarian must teach the animals to treat the books with care.
You might considering creating a class book with them afterwards about books (why we read them, what we like about them, how to care for them).

beckylevine said...

A friend just had a teacher ask her to talk about something like "How grammar saved my life!" What are these people thinking?

I think you might try your own bait & switch. Maybe spend a very few minutes talking about the VERY basics, then take 10 minutes or so to write a story with the kids on the easel. Then take the story page off the easel & ask them what you should do with it? Get a lot of ideas--I bet not ONE will be throw it on the floor or crumple it up. Talk about what a treasure their story & every story is. Then slip in the let's treat it that way bit?

What do you think? Have fun!

6traits said...

Toni Buzzeo has a great list of books with librarians in them. http://www.tonibuzzeo.com/booksourlibrarianpicturebooks.html

(Taking care of library books is a common topic for this age group - in fact, you may want to ask the school librarian what she has in her collection.)

Laini Taylor said...

Hmmm. . . First graders are pretty gullible. Maybe they'll believe you if you tell them the characters in the books are really alive in there, and each time they throw a book or leave it lying open or drop it, the characters get hurt. Tell them the books are crying. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. I really don't know. Books were always sacred to me, even at that age. Good luck!

HipWriterMama said...

Thank you for visiting. I appreciate your ideas. I think the teacher is definitely at her wits end on this one. This will definitely be an interesting challenge.

Thanks for stopping by and your book suggestion. I'll go check it out.

I know, it is strange. I'm still wondering about this. We have a beautiful new town library that is always crowded, the school library is well stocked...though this obviously isn't an indicator that children will be taught to respect books at home. I like your idea of having a weekly child take care of the books. I'm going to suggest that to the teacher.

Tricia (PJ Hoover),
Lollipops and making books. Good ideas!

Thanks for the book suggestion! I'll go check that one out. Class book sounds good.

You're right. I bet the kids wouldn't dare throw their ideas on the floor. Great idea!

Thanks for visiting and for your recommendations. I'll definitely talk to the school librarian.

HipWriterMama said...

I just missed you! And here you are. That is a fun idea. Hmmm...

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

They do a good job at my daughter's school in their library period about talking about how you should treat books. I'll ask her if she has any suggestions. I just know that after she went through 1st grade, she reminded me not to leave books open on their spines, and to be careful with them, because they belong to the library.

Maybe a book about being careful with things that belong to others as a general point?

Franki said...

What if you just bring in a stack of your favorites --the stack that you and your child read over and over. And booktalk them, telling why you love each one and how you love to read them over and over and over. Then you can talk about where you keep them and how you keep them so that they last a long time because you know you'll want to continue reading them again and again. Then the focus will be on the books with the lesson the teacher asked for. Seems like it would be a more comfortable way to pull it off. Get them engaged with good books.

MotherReader said...

When we do a library tour with preschoolers or kindergarteners we bring out our No, No, Never/Yes, Yes, Always! Box.

It's a box divided in the middle with cardboard. The front of the box says No, No, Never! and the back says Yes, Yes, Always! The box is full of props of ways to treat books.

In the No, No, Never side there's a baby doll, stuffed dog, lollipop, soda can, and a crayon. In the Yes, Yes, Always side there's a bookmark, a bookbag, a library card, and a pair of huge glasses.

The bit goes: Should you let your baby brother handle your library books and chew them and slobber on them? No, No, Never!

Same type thing for keeping books away from your dog, eating or drinking with the books, and coloring in books.

For Yes side it's always use a bookmark, not lay the book open, use a bookbag to protect books from rain or dropping them, always bring your library card, and the glasses are just for fun to end with, but most important is to read, read, read.

If they're throwing books, I suppose you could add a catcher's mitt in the box.

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers said...

Check out my blog and see if you can adapt anything to 1st grade, http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/100th-day-of-school/.


laurasalas said...

Oh my lord. Are you serious? My vote is to give a 25-minute talk about the fabulous books you love, get kids all excited, and then go over the basic rules. "I'm sure y'all already know this now, because it's not like you're in kindergarten now. But here's how you treat a book." Wrap that part up in 3 minutes and hope that you've left them so enthralled with books they'll treat them better.

What a sneaky teacher.

Liz in Ink said...

OK, first of all, that's CRAZY! WHA?!?!!?
I should think that the teacher should ask the school librarian for a special session in the library where the librarian emphasizes the kindnesses we need to offer our books... Sigh.
But in your session? I'd talk about the making of a book. The dream somebody wakes up with one day. The way a dream turns into an idea. The way an idea unfolds on a page. The way you have to work and work and work until it is really a story that comes alive with people and places and circumstances that make you giggle or sigh or anticipate the very next page. The way that story is tenderly put between covers and ordered by booksellers and librarians who want to share the story with children. Just like you. This book, and this book, and this are all treasures. They were all made this way. Especially for you. With dreams and work and love and tenderness. And all we have to do is love them back...

jonathan said...

My first library job included repairing books and I sometimes did a short session (5 mins or so) for class visits.

I had a few samples of damaged books and would say things like, "Who likes pictures of dinosaurs? I have a beautiful book about dinosaurs with lots of great pictures!" Then I would get to the page where a picture was cut out or scribbled on or torn.

I also had a dusgusting, wet, mouldy, festering book that I kept sealed in 3 plastic bags to bring out & show them.

slayground said...

If they absolutely MUST "destroy" something, give them bubble wrap to pop. ("How many can you bubbles can pop in sixty seconds? GO!") Then confiscate the used wrap - DO NOT throw it away in the classroom's trashcan! Box it up and take it back with you!

Mme T said...

What about Lauren Child's Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. In this story Herb, a young boy who loves books, falls in to his own fairytale book. It turns out he had doodled in it and cut out pictures the year before (when he was much younger) and now he must deal with an irate queen who has a moustache and the ugly sisters, who are stuck to the ceiling, and Cinderella who is having a terrible time because Prince Charming has gone missing--Herb glued him to a card for his mother.
Anyway, it's a fun way to show what can happen if you don't take care of a book. I also agree with others that this is not something you can teach in one lesson-so have fun with it!

John Mutford said...

Perhaps I'd start by showing them two versions of the same book. One damaged (scribbled on, torn and if there are flaps, have a couple missing) and one in pristine condition. Ask which they'd rather read.

I question why the kids are throwing them. Perhaps there's some over-enthusiastic DEAR time that trails on for too long, perhaps the books are just not age (or child) appropriate or too difficult or boring, perhaps the kids are just not getting enough exercise- I'd get to the root of it first.