Slice of Life Tuesday: “Read! Read! Read!” poems about a reading life

Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers

I opened the large white envelope from Boyds Mills Press uncertain of what I’d find, and out tumbled an advance copy of Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s joyous new book, a collection of poems about a reading life, gloriously illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke:

Image result for read read read amy vanderwater

So, of course, I HAD to put down the mundane task I was in the midst of to lose myself in poem after poem about what it means to be a reader.    Each poem captured a slice of reading magic – the worlds books allow you into, the comfort they provide, the experience of being in a room full of other readers who are all lost in the books they are reading.

Here’s one that spoke to the long ago me who had just cracked the reading code:


It reminded me of all those hours I’d spent with piles “rainbows of rectangles”, pretending to read the stories I had memorized, and yearning for that day when I would not need to pretend anymore take off, all on my own, the magic code of reading cracked at last.  All these many decades later, I can’t really remember that specific moment of  reading independence, but I do remember that that sense of being able at last to be “…swooping/alone/over words confusing/but now/all my own'”.

And here’s another that is part of my reading life even today:


Reading has taught me so much about how to live, to grieve, to offer guidance, to give solace, to imagine, and to wonder.  I think this is at the center of all I hope for my sixth graders to take from our year of reading workshop: that we read to know how to live, it’s that important.

I’m putting Read! Read! Read! carefully back in its envelope, so that it will be ready for the first day of reading workshop in September, when I share my reading life with my kiddos and the message that “Every single thing you read/becomes a part of you.(from the poem Forever).”


14 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: “Read! Read! Read!” poems about a reading life

  1. Oh lucky you Tara. I can’t wait to see this book when it comes out. Sharing my own love for reading with my students is so important to me.

  2. How lovely to open the envelope and find a book of poems–and ones about reading. Your post reminds me that we ought to consistently teach the pleasure of reading as it is so important and such a gift as we age.

  3. Those are the best kinds of mail to get. Of course mundane tasks can wait. New books and reading always take precedence. This really sounds like a book all can relate to. Thanks for sharing, Tara.

  4. I’ve seen lots of posts about Amy’s new book and can’t wait to get a copy of my own. Both of these poems spoke to me as they did to you. Except I remember reading Charlotte’s Web aloud to my third graders every year for 8 years. I cried every time. The lessons Charlotte and I were teaching those children are immeasurable.

  5. What a lovely book! I love hearing how people reflect on their reading histories. How they go from making up words to their favorite stories before they are too young to recognize the letters as words with meaning to crying over the latest fiction or poetry. Your slice captured that spirit well!

  6. “We read to know how to live.” This is such a profound truth, Tara. How lucky we are to have poets like Amy to write a whole book of poems celebrating the gift of reading. Thank you for sharing your treasure with us today!

  7. Ah, you are so lucky!!! I pre-ordered this after seeing Mary Lee Hahn had a copy. I love all the connections and memories this book brought for you. Books are indeed more than words on a page.

  8. I can’t wait to get hold of this book. Seems like a perfect first day of school read! I love the poems you chose, especially the Charlotte’s Web one. Like you, my books have taught me so much about living!

  9. I can’t wait to read this book – an ARC is on its way to me this week! I just know these poems will resonate with the many different readers in our classrooms. I can’t wait to share these poems with my third graders!

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