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Read Any Good Books Lately?

Is there anything better than a good book? The feel, the weight, and even the smell of the pages bring a smile to my face and cause my shoulders to relax just a bit. I love reading now, and I can honestly say I don’t remember a time that I didn’t love to read. There were evenings laying on my parents’ bed while my mom read Charlotte’s Web aloud to my sister and me. We were certainly old enough to read it ourselves, but there’s just something special about sitting back and hearing a story. Knowing this, I read the Little House series to my daughter.
 
 
Over time there were books for fun, books left by the Easter bunny, books checked out from the library (it’s a pretty big deal to get your own library card), and eventually books assigned to be read for school. Would I have picked up A Tale of Two Cities or The Scarlet Letter for fun? I’ll never know since they were tied to a test, but despite the number of years that have passed since I was in freshman English class, I do know I learned things from the authors.
 
My reading habits today have been greatly influenced by my reading habits of the past. I usually keep at least two books going at any one time. One book is purely for fun, although I often learn a few things from some bizarre sources. The other book (or two or three) is intended for learning, although I am often entertained and amused by an author who was not writing for that purpose.
 
I love the feeling of the pages of a book in my hands, but I also have embraced reading electronically. I can happily curl up with the Kindle® app on my iPad®. No matter where I am, I have access to an unlimited number of books as long as my device is charged. I no longer have to struggle over the decision of which books to bring on vacation.
 
So we now sit in the middle of summer, likely the quietest time of year for a science leader (although I know there is never time that is truly quiet). Teachers are usually on vacation, central office sometimes closes for a week or two, and the pace is just a little different than the energy in August when chaos begins again. So without the intention of preaching to the choir, here are some gentle nudges to encourage you to enjoy some written words.
 
Read for fun
Choose a book to dig into purely for the enjoyment. You’ll likely learn something along the way, and you may even be inspired to share a few things with your teachers when the new school year begins. My mom isn’t available to read aloud to you, but you could choose a book on Audible (audible.com) to enjoy the sound of a good book. It could certainly make a long drive much more pleasant.
 
Start a list of books for learning
Ask a professional colleague, Google books that are recommended for school leaders, follow someone on Twitter, or just stroll through a bookstore (although bookstores are becoming a little harder to find). Don’t tell the authors, but I’ve sometimes just read a particular chapter that I find interesting instead of the whole book. I often get a little inspiration for a future professional learning session. If you have the hard copy of the book, it also inspires conversation when you carry it to meetings.
 
Lead a teacher book study
Encourage your teachers to read. Yes, I know teachers are busy, but having the opportunity to learn with your science administrator can be appealing. Especially if you choose something science-y but also fun, it’s a great venue for creating a personal relationship with your teachers. If there isn’t time to get together face to face, an online meeting can be a nice alternative.
 
Read to a group of students
You could even volunteer to read aloud to a classroom of kids. There are some awesome books for children that include science topics and themes. It’s a great way to get into classrooms when you find yourself behind your desk just a little too much. The students will never forget it, and neither will you.
 
So to wrap it up, reading just makes you a more interesting person, and who doesn’t want to be more interesting? Spur conversation around the table by asking what books are on your friends’ nightstands and you’ll get some great discussion. Get to know others better by asking about books that have been most personally influential. These questions are also great when interviewing science teacher candidates, but that’s a topic for a later blog.
 
In case you didn’t realize it, you’re doing some reading right now. I’m hopeful this blog is a combination of fun and learning, but I’ll settle for at least one. So turn, look on your nightstand, and grab a book. Stuck on a book selection? Well, let me heartily recommend Charlotte’s Web.
 
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