Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Reading Life

This past week, my husband and I took our 20-month-old daughter on a short trip to Boston.  She loves animals, so we were very excited to take her to the zoo and the aquarium.  As I was packing for our trip, I only put in one book for myself, knowing that I wouldn't have much time to read.  (As it turns out, I should have gotten something to read on my iPad in the dark while she was sleeping.  Sharing a hotel room with a toddler has some unique issues.)  Even though I didn't actually spend much time reading, I was struck by how much of our vacation was influenced by books.

We were waiting at the gates when the Franklin Park Zoo opened.  As soon as we went in, we went straight to the Tropical Forest exhibit where the gorillas are.  My daughter was amazed by the gorillas (as were her parents, though we'd seen them before), and I think she would have been happy to sit and watch them all day.  We watched them quietly for quite a while before we were joined by a rowdy group of students that were part of a summer camp.  Several of them were egging each other on to bang on the glass and get a reaction from the largest and closest gorilla.  All I could think of was Ivan, the gentle but fiercely protective silverback.  I wished in that moment for a copy of The One and Only Ivan to pull out of my backpack so that I could gather these kids in front of the window for a read aloud.  I know I'll never look at a gorilla the same way again after reading it.
Gorilla at the Franklin Park Zoo

As we continued around the zoo, we pointed out some of the animals that were familiar to our daughter.  Most of them she knew from reading either her animal book or from our daily readings of Goodnight, Gorilla.  We always pointed out when there was an animal that was "just like in your book!"
When we passed by the farm exhibit, we noticed a rather familiar looking tractor.  Even our daughter recognized it and shouted, "Otis!" Loren Long's lovable tractor has been a favorite in our house this summer as well, and she knew what this tractor looked like.  Only a Nerdy Book Club family could go to the zoo and find Otis the tractor.


We left the zoo for the day and headed into Boston to see some of the sights.  We went to Boston Common and the Public Garden on a mission.  There was no way that I was going to visit Boston without seeing this:

 Make Way for Ducklings has been one of my favorites for a long time, and even if we had to make a couple of laps around the Public Garden, it was worth it to find these ducks.

Looking back on how much our vacation was influenced by our reading, I am reflecting on how much reading connects to our lives outside our books.  I wonder how many of our students have the opportunities for similar experiences.  As the school year gets ready to begin, I'm thinking about how I can model not only a love for reading, but a reading life outside of my books as well.

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