Oh these books of mine.
These books need to be packed.
I need a lot of boxes.
In the next four weeks, I am packing up my classroom collection. My classroom library. These books. These books are saturated with memories. They are adored by particular children. They each take turns being my favourite. Some are visited on a regular basis by former students who drop in to ask, “Do you still have that book, the one that . . . ?”
These books. This collection has been the source of new words learned and new concepts understood. It has inspired countless art projects and drawings. Books in this collection have been favourites. Have been fought over. Have been held close and remembered.
These books have given us words to talk about death, jealousy and prejudice. These books have shone a light on love, forgiveness and generosity. These books have made us laugh and rage and roar. These books have painted the sky, whispered the wind, suggested the rush of ocean waves, the quiet of midway from midnight, the warmth of a blanket lair.
These books. I think about how they have entered my room. Most have been carted in by me. Book by book. Book by book by book. Books purchased on my book collection trips to the bookstores I love to visit. Frequently, my bright yellow backpack is full of books. Books and my lunch. Books and an extra sweater. Books and the shoes I will switch into when I arrive. But always books. I am a book pack horse. I walk, loaded down with pages but light with excitement at the prospect of sharing the stories I am transporting.
Books have also arrived by post. Sent by publishers and beloved authors. Specially ordered when the bookstore didn’t have them. How many trips has our mailman made into the building with books for my classroom? Big boxes. Flat boxes. Bright yellow rectangles. Puffy white envelopes padded with bubble wrap and adorned with an array of stamps.
These books. These books are each welcomed. Explored. Read aloud. They are relieved of their jackets. Labelled. Stickered. Put into the collection. They might be stolen away and hidden with attempted permanence into a child’s book box. They might be read daily for weeks and then sit on a shelf for months before being rediscovered.
These books. These books. These books.
I have been readying them for the move. Some need laminated covers. Some need to be weeded. Some will be left for other readers not taught by me. Some need to be read aloud, here, one more time. As I touch each one, I visit my read aloud memories or conjure the image of a child who read the book endlessly.
These books. These books will be packed up carefully. The baskets and the bins will come too. I am hopeful for endless shelves but prepared that not every book will find a place to rest immediately. It will take time.
These books. These books will stand with me when a new group of children meet me in a new room of a new-to-me school.
Together. we will create a new reading space. Grow a new community of readers.
In those times when I look up and remember that it’s all new and not yet home, these books will help me find my balance. Let me place two solid feet in the middle of it all.
They are my stories.
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