Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Last Bookstore

I had a great husband and I went into Downtown LA and I found parking near The Last Bookstore which has been on my list to visit.  When I went to school in Santa Cruz, there was a fabulous bookstore there called Bookshop Santa Cruz--it had a great used book section.  I remember
when it was torn down after the big earthquake of '89 that devastated downtown Santa Cruz.  The new location and building is beautiful--but that old book musty smell was gone.  I was immediately transported back to that today when I walked through the doors of The Last Bookstore.

Not only is it crammed head to toe with tons of books--it is also a place of beauty.  There are many nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered, chairs scattered throughout the store, and some amazing book displays/constructions.  I could have spent hours and hours there (but the husband--who was a model of patience since I promised him lunch at the Grand Central Market-- wouldn't have been able to make it.) I spent most of my time in the children's section, happily finding great bargains, and promised the upstairs "$1 labyrinth" that I would return another day.  For $31, I purchased 6 hardcover books and 1 paperback--which I considered to be quite a steal. If any of you live near LA or find yourself visiting, I highly recommend you check this place out.

I spent hours reading as a child--my mother would take us to the library regularly, buy us books from the book orders and bookstores, and would introduce me to her childhood favorites. My father was constantly reading and was willing to listen to me prattle on about whatever story I was reading.  Books were an essential part of our lives.  I wish I could say that my students feel the same way--but most of them don't.  The majority of my class read when asked--but rarely more than that.  We just finished the novel Al Capone Does My Shirts and quite a few of them remarked that it had been more than a year since they had read an ENTIRE book.   I congratulated them and cried a bit on the inside.  How is it possible to convince kids that reading is magical when they come from environments where reading is a chore?  I've struggled with this for years and, unfortunately, I have never found a magic potion that works for all students.  However, I have found that a few things I have tried have motivated some--so I thought I would share those with you all today--and link up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching.

Like most of you, I spend hours finding a wide variety of books for my classroom library.  I try to make sure to buy the book coupons that Scholastic offers to get books at a greatly reduced price throughout the school year.  When one of my kiddos tells me that there is nothing to read, I ask her what she is interested in--and hopefully I have a book to match that interest in my library.  I have a special section for new books--and most get snatched out of my hands before they even make it there.  

I discovered the Six Flags Read to Succeed program last year and a free ticket is a big incentive for my kiddos.  If you are located near a Six Flags park that is participating, I encourage you to check it out--it is simple to sign up for and the teacher materials make it easy to implement.  (The participating parks are:  Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Great America Chicago, Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags America, Six Flags Great Adventure, Great Escape, and Six Flags New England.)  The students earn a free ticket by completing 6 hours of reading for pleasure--and the deadline to complete the reading is in the beginning of March.

There are lots of great reading challenges on TPT.  My sixth graders really enjoyed this one by More Than a Worksheet--best part was that it was free!  I am considering trying this one by the Thinker Builder next year....I am just not sure if there is the necessary home support.  I am trying to figure out if I can modify it and find a space for it in my classroom.  

Currently I have a "bookcase" in my room and when a student reads a book, he has an option of filling out a "book spine" and adding it to the book case.  After reading six books, he gets to pick a book up to $5.00 from Scholastic BookClub (thank you book coupons and bonus points.)  Last year, one of my students earned 12 books--he was a voracious reader and couldn't afford to buy books himself.  Interestingly, two of my readers never participated in this--they read constantly but never wanted to fill out a book spine--which requires the title of the book, a sentence about it, and a name--not exactly a tough requirement.  (Maybe it was because their parents would regularly purchase books for them from the book order.)  I have about 12 kids participating regularly this year--better than last year, but still room for improvement. 

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