After the pleasantries of relaxing with the family for the holiday and rushing to make sure all the lessons had been taught before the end of last week, while simultaneously missing last week’s article, I have entered into teacher’s Winter Break, the all favored section of the year when elementary school teacher’s take this time to recharge and suck up as much free time as possible to do all the things they like.
For me, that involves reading what scientists refer to as “a ton of books”.
That, and playing through the entirety of Resident Evil 5. I don’t usually go for horror games, but this one’s story is pretty interesting.
Anyway, with so much free time I decided to do something meaningful. One of the best things a new teacher can do is try to do some reflecting on the past semester of teaching. Even though it’s only my second year, any experienced educator will tell you, there will never be as much growth as there is between your first and second years. Your confidence levels alone are enough to reinforce everything else.
One thing I attempted to do more of was to try to take a bigger stance in what my students are reading. Everything, and I’ve come to really find out everything, revolves around a student’s ability to read and comprehend.
Sounds obvious, I know, but it’s important.
It’s also important to try and give them great things to read. Unfortunately, it’s tough at times to try and find stories that will truly interest students.
Being the comic aficionado that I claim myself to be, I tried to find a good batch of all-ages comics to bring to the group, and there in I decided to do my next focus on:
Mr. Acosta’s Class Library
Set up in the back of my classroom I have a selection of all-ages graphic novels for my students to check out as they please. Some were books that I had already read, and a majority of others were some that I chose based on recommendations from other people.
So, with this break I decided that the best way to spend the free time that I have been blessed with was to read through the books that I constantly encourage my students to read. I’ve been told they’re good by people in the comic shop and, once read through, students in the class. The interesting part is that, whenever any student new to Mr. Acosta’s Library asks which ones are good, it typically involves me asking the students that have already read through the books if the new student should read them.
Answers typically involve a resoundingly loud: YES.
With that type of reinforcement from my own pupils, how could I not embark on a massive quest to delve deep into Mr. Acosta’s Library to find what makes these books so special and what they bring to the table, so begins…
Along with these marathon reading sessions which will occur over the break, I plan on looking at some of the other books within the Library as well and why they should go with any all-ages library. The reason I’m focusing on these two series, Jeff Smith’s “Bone” and Kazu Kibuishi’s “Amulet” because no matter what, at some point, there is always at least one volume that is checked out of my class. So much so that many of them have begun to receive frayed edges and scuff marks. No matter how much I try to reinforce taking care of them, it’s just that their constant usage and them being checked out nightly has caused them to take on an appearance less than perfect.
So, why is this important? Why start off the New Year with these epically long reads?
I think I understand the difficulties of getting students to read. After delving into many books and stories aimed towards kids I’ve come to a great conclusion: Many all-ages book are just flat out not that good.
Apparently, these are. These stories gave my kids something. I plan on finding out what that is, while also examining their internal greatness in the context of making my kids want to frequently check them out and (back before I actually bought them all) made them beg me to get the next volume.
We begin to traverse Mr. Acosta’s Library and begin what I’ve called “The Great Amulet Quest“, by far one of the best fantasy/all-ages comics there is. Starting off with Volumes 1 and 2.
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org