I have been wanting to blog for some time, but I have not put the effort into making this goal happen. Then one of my colleagues I admire started to blog, and I thought, why haven’t I come clean with my goal. Reading her first blog made me ponder my reflections about reading and writing and everything I am learning in a new role I assumed this year. My colleague’s blog got me thinking about making my reflections public or at least just sitting down on occasion and taking some time to commit them to writing.
On New Year’s Eve we have a tradition of going bowling with friends and their kids. This year we had so many in our party that we needed three lanes to handle everyone! The kids had a blast and the adults got to chat in a relaxed and fun family environment. In one of my conversations with a friend, I touched base with her about the books she was reading. I love trading book stories with her and we always have books to recommend to each other as well as books to recommend for our kids. She asked me if I had read the most recent Barbara Kingsolver book, Flight Behavior, and I said that I had it checked out from the library, but I was having a tough time getting into the book. I loved The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, but really could not get into Lacuna and this book was starting out just as slowly. I had put it aside. But hearing that my friend (and her husband) both recommended the book, I gave it another go and now I can’t put it down. Sometimes, we need a nudge to persevere with a book because not all books jump into our lap like a familiar pet. Flight Behavior was such a book for me.
So what do these two interactions have in common? Why did they come together for me in this blog? As I thought about both interactions – one virtual and one in person, I realized the importance of having a reading and writing community. I have always loved to connect with people about reading and books – I subscribe to blogs about books, I am on Goodreads, and I interact with friends and colleagues about books all of the time, but I had not really thought about all of those interactions as a community. My reading has always been situated in community; I had just not ascribed those interactions to a community. Reading my colleague’s blog got me thinking about the importance of community in our reading and writing lives. Her blog prompted me to not only read her blog, but to finally start a blog of my own. My friend’s book recommendation launched my reading of a book I had cast aside. My reading and writing community moves me beyond where I would have landed on my own.
When we think about reading and writing for our students, we need to think about situating both in their communities – where they can talk about books with each other, make recommendations, debate the merits of how Allegiant ended, for example, and become wild readers a la Donalyn Miller. And where they can prod each others’ writing, share a story they have written, and push each other to write what they would not have written alone. As educators we need to honor and support these communities. And where they don’t exist, we need to help our students find, create, and sustain these powerful communities because it’s in these communities where reading and writing come to life.