An exquisite joy comes from time spent searching and finding the right book at the right time for a student. It might not be the one for whom it was intended, as happened today, but that elation I feel happened nonetheless when I share the book jacket summary in class. The Getaway by Lamar Giles was snapped up by a grade 9 boy at the back of class. He’d finished the entire published series of Heartbreaker, though rarely engaged with others in the class or with any of the collaborative tasks offered. He resists inclusion preferring to immerse himself in a book – but it needs to be the right book.
Another kind of joy comes with completion; that sense of accomplishment and pride in having finished an entire book independently. Reading it just because it was interesting. She found this joy and even though she’s in grade 12 and has aspirations, she somewhat reluctantly shared her joy in completing this one young adult novel – the first book she’s actually finished reading in high school. We high-fived and leaned in to share smiles of joy, and now, six weeks later, she’s on her third book this semester.
An unexpected sort of book joy happened recently. I’d been searching for a book on snowboarding or skiing for a grade 9 boy and stumbled across Ski Weekend by Rektok Ross – I finally got one copy and brought it to school. The students were book dating in the library and the one copy that I had purchased for this one student was accidentally left at a table – this book was not meant for “tasting” or cirulation, but once I scanned the students’ selection pages after class, I noticed that four girls had selected it. I asked and they were adamant about wanting to read it.
Still, the truth of this book joy is financial – it has a cost and is a function of privilege and opportunity. I can afford to spend my own money to purchase three more books. I know that not every teacher can. I know that not every student has this opportunity.
So I was thrilled when Amanda won the Book Love grant and she posted joyful photos of her book stack in her classroom. These kinds of donations, this form of philanthropy, is vital if we really want to generate the necessary book joy.