I Stink!

I was hoping that might get your attention. I Stink! is the title of one of the books I may be reading to some first graders this afternoon during library time. Library time is usually Mrs. Lange's gig, but since she is out of the country, I am the reader during library time today, and I have picked out some books that I think are pretty funny and cool to share with the first, second, and third graders. I'm hoping they like them as much as I do, or it is going to be a L O O O O O N G afternoon in the old library. (By the way, I Stink! is the story of a garbage truck and it includes an alphabetical list of the garbage he likes to eat.) Some of the other titles I have chosen include: The Runaway Dinner (Melvin the sausage decides he doesn't want to be eaten by a boy named Banjo Cannon, so he runs away); Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (a pigeon begs, wheedles, and cajoles readers to let him drive a public transit bus); Mail Harry to the Moon! (a boy whose life has been invaded by his new baby brother, Harry, believes he has somehow wished him away to the moon and goes to rescue him); and Help Me, Mr. Mutt! (a dog advice columnist answers dogs' questions about problems they have and angers a cat who calls herself The Queen). Did you notice that many of the titles end in an exclamation point?

I am hoping that the students will discover that reading isn't all just learning how to read and answering a bunch of comprehension questions, but that reading is an enjoyable pastime. There are lots of great stories out there waiting to be read. I especially hope to reach some of the boys, since research tells us that the number of boys who read is steadily decreasing, and that's bad, because research also shows that academic achievement in school can be directly connected to reading ability, and reading ability is developed through...(can you believe it?)...READING! When you look at our society, you see that more and more boys are dropping out of school and getting into trouble and less and less boys are going on to college. I think part of the problem is that boys aren't reading like they used to and the language centers of their brains aren't developing enough to be successful in school and in jobs where literacy is important (which is most of the good jobs nowadays).

When people ask me how to improve their SAT and ACT scores, I tell them to read and do all their math homework and work on understanding what you read and what you are doing in math. Memorizing a bunch of words and learning a bunch of formulas may help some, but a lifetime of reading, writing, and plugging away at math is what gets you higher scores on these tests.

I also think of back in medieval times when only a few people were literate. The people who could read and write had all the power. What do tyrants do when they want to keep people from getting ahead? They don't let them learn to read or write. I am saddened when I hear that students don't like to read and don't want to write, because they are setting themselves up to be the tail and not the head (Deuteronomy 28:13), and they may end up at the mercy of somebody else who wags them.

Well, enough of this. I hope that I am setting a good example in our school, by not just encouraging students to read, but reading and sharing books like I Stink! I hope that by the end of the school day, that won't be the title of my memoir about the time I read to the lower elementary students...


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