This private Christian school was on verge of closing when the principal called me and asked for help. It was an exciting experience: bring in books and state standards, and help teachers achieve credentials.
First were books. My own teaching library were dozens of boxes of 1st through 4th grade levels. The school had very little to claim, almost none of all. I donated most of the boxes (heart breaking) to the primary grades.
The middle school grades had none, no, not a single piece of literature. Blessed me! Book hunts with someone else's money!
Every year (it seemed) a discount book store roved through city to city. A Crown Discount Bookstore would appear in an empty big store building. So many treasures, but I had never sought appropriate books for older children.The Newberry** award winners were high on my list of books-to-find.
Do you have more? The owner led me to the store room where cardboard bin-dumpster-sized boxes. He handed me a step stool, then pointed to an industrial flatbed cart.
I dived in, literally dived in feet first, digging my way, and creating a personal space. Heaven, it was like being in Heaven. Surrounded by books, (fortunately I was thin then) inhaling that indefinable book smell, feeling textures of pages: that truly is Heaven. Had to keep from hyperventilating.
I culled through thousands of books, trying to keep my hands from grabbing third grade books was an experience that was both addictive and exhilarating. My heart pounded in indescribable joy.
As I found books and tossed good candidates to my teenage daughter who said, "Enough,Mom. Enough." I would not allow her to do the diving; book avalanches became highly probable. Book after book were tossed to her from me, now almost invisible in these monstrous boxes, an unknown number of them.
These bins stretched from one end of warehouse to the other, ending in dark shadows. A question was asked. "Mom...isn't this a little obsessive?" By now there were stacks and stacks of complete class sets of awesome pieces of literature and amazing individual books.
I needed to read, like a lot. Then I needed to teach teachers how to integrate curriculum around and through these wonderful literature treasures.
***Newberry Awards are highest awards given to books with exceptional illustrations and writing.
These books are aimed at 5/6 grades, appropriate topics, well written, great to segue into writing projects.
It is heaven, right?
This is a re-post from November 2014.
Tweeked and upgraded version.
P.S. The school tripled in enrollment, new
portable classrooms had to be brought
in, teachers were credentialed. State
Frameworks became important. It
was awesome. Then I retired.