Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Book and a Pool

What more do you need on a warm Memorial Day Weekend besides a book and a pool. Today I was teaching (yes, school is still in session) my students how to do a "Heart Map" using Georgia Heard's idea of "Where Poetry Hides." If you're not familiar, it's sort of a brainstorming map of possible poems. One of the things I put on my Heart Map was that I read a book a day (or more) as a kid. Yes, I lived where there was no cable TV. I grew up in Thailand, and at the time there was no English programming on TV and the Thai programming was lacking. So, I didn't watch TV. I read books. Well, I played outside a lot, but after it got dark, I read. I might one day write a poem about my book-a-day habit. I wish I could still do a book a day now.

This weekend I parked myself in front of the pool at my mother-in-law's house with a glass of icy Diet Dr. Pepper and a book. When I wasn't reading by the pool, I read in the car. While I didn't get everything in my bag read, I still got a lot accomplished.

Here's a few highlights:

The Essential 55 by Ron Clark
I recently heard Ron Clark speak at an education alumni event at Roanoke College, my alma mater. Ron Clark is a Disney Teacher of the Year. He is a very inspirational teacher and speaker. After hearing him speak, I wanted to read this book. It's a quick read that outlines his rules for his classroom. He's a tough teacher, but the high expectations have made him and his students achieve great things.

London Calling by Edward Bloor
I was on the waiting list at the library for this book, so I was thrilled when it came in right before my trip. Edward Bloor is a masterful storyteller. This is sort of a time-travel book. Martin is hating his private school life. After a fight with a rich classmate, he requests to do his schooling via independent study. He spends a lot of his time sleeping and researching. In his dreams he travels to World War II London during the Blitz through an old radio. Martin finds his purpose in life through these dreams. I loved the twists and turns of this book and how the layers of story weaved together. If you are a historical fiction fan or an Edward Bloor fan, read this one.

Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard
If you love poetry, teach poetry, or write poetry, I would recommend this book. Of course, it's geared toward teachers of poetry, but I always learn a lot from it as a poet myself.

St. Dale by Sharyn McCrumb
Okay, I'm not a NASCAR fan, and I wouldn't know Jeff Gordon or Ward Burton if they came up and introduced themselves to me. But I read this book because I've heard Sharyn McCrumb talk about this book twice. The book is patterned after Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It's a story of a pilgrimage of Dale Earnhardt fans to visit southern racetracks and other Earnhardt points of interest. When Sharyn spoke at the Southwest Virginia Writer's Workshop she emphasized that novelists' job is to make the reader care about the story through the characters. I don't care about NASCAR and probably never will, but I am truly engaged in this story because I care about the characters in the story. It's not a book I thought I'd read, but I tried it anyway. It's told like only Sharyn McCrumb could tell it. I'm hooked, but not finished yet.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good weekend of reading. I can't wait for the summer. I will be back in Thailand. And although there is TV there now, I am going to stay away from it. I will be reliving my childhood and reading a book a day. Now, if only I could do something about the weight limit on the airplane. They just don't understand how much books weigh!!!

1 comment:

cloudscome said...

I am reading Lessons that Change Writers by Nancie Atwell and she talks about Heard's Heart Maps. I made one this week too, after reading Atwell's minilessons on the process. It was fun and I now have a list of topics to pursue in memoir and poetry. Wonderful!

I am studying Atwell's book for the next few weeks in an effort to strengthen daily writing habits. I'll be posting about it on the next couple of Mondays.