Thursday, December 15, 2011

Building a Personal Library

The big seventh grade kids from the Solomon Schechter School in Newton looked a little odd perched on the tiny chairs in our first grade classrooms. It was also a little unusual to see boys wearing yalmulkes at the Perkins. In fact, one of them was asked about it by a first grader. "It's a cap that many Jewish boys and men wear," he answered.

Then it was Ms. Leverett-King's turn to talk. "One thing we do in first grade is learn to read," she said. "We thought you could help us make books for our children so they can read at home. So today we're starting to build each of them a personal library."

Ms. Leverett-King passed out xeroxed sheets that copied some books in her kids' reading program.

Ms. Haney was doing the same in her classroom. The Schechter kids were coming once a month throughout the school year to work with the first graders and this was their first job.

Take it from a writer (this is author-in-residence Susan Goodman speaking), making a book isn't easy even if you aren't the one writing it. That was the first lesson the kids in these classrooms learned. You've got to put the pages in order, fold them precisely, and align them "just so" before you fold them.

Hard work is worth it, though.

Before the Schechter kids piled back on their bus, every Perkins first grader had the first book for their home collection.