Books and Breakfast, Gregory Middle School
Reading is social.
Illustrations often depict people enjoying books, quietly, by themselves; this perpetuates the misconception that reading is a solitary activity. In truth, from our earliest interactions with books, reading has always been social: parents, siblings, librarians, and child care professionals read to children just learning to explore the magic of a story. As children age and become more independent, the social structure of reading changes. Rather than being read to (although reading aloud should happen for all ages), young people share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the books they read with their friends, family, and teachers, making reading a communal activity. Word-of-mouth is the BEST way to advertise a book to others and when young people find something about which they are passionate, watch out!
Food, like stories, also brings people together. I don’t know many people who will turn down yummy breakfast treats, and this is the premise behind Books & Breakfast: coming together to share the impact the books we read have on us, while sharing a meal. This year, Gordon Gregory Middle School will host three Books and Breakfast events. The first one occurred on September 24th. The common thread binding the eleven titles selected for the first breakfast was relationships. Each book explored different types of friendships in their upas and downs. Teachers chose the book they wanted and led the discussion for the students who read the same title. There was a variety of staff involved: science, math, and ELA teachers; support facilitators; and our principal. These diverse facilitators were wonderful examples to our students that anyone can be a reader and enjoy talking books.
Logistically speaking, this event was effortless to coordinate. Choosing dates that did not interfere with other school activities was the biggest challenge. Once those were selected, I set myself the task of selecting the titles and requesting additional copies from other libraries in our school district. I was also able to work with Naperville Public Library to obtain even more copies of the books we would need. I’m so fortunate to work with a staff that support literacy and are willing to help when they can, so I was able to offer a variety of books to capture our readers’ interests; we had graphic novels, realistic fiction, mystery, poetry, and award nominees. To generate enthusiasm, I created a Bevan’s Book Buzz video of me book-talking all eleven titles so the students would know more about the books. We posted an invitation in our daily announcements and sent home information in our weekly parent communication.
Keeping a budget in mind, I sent out an RSVP via Google Forms to get a rough count in order to purchase breakfast foods. We offered muffins, bagels, and fresh fruit; we asked students to bring their own beverages. Our surrounding community supports literacy initiatives, so I solicited breakfast donations from local businesses to defer some of the cost of hosting. I purchased in bulk where I could and selected seasonal fruit to bring the cost down. We set the tables the night before with tablecloths and placards showing the cover of the book so everyone knew where to sit.
Truth be told, this was an effortless endeavor that reaped more benefits than the effort expended. We had twenty-four student show up and it was wonderful! Both staff and students repeatedly said how much fun they had and are already asking about the books for the next event on December 6th. When I released the list to our staff, there was quite a bit of jockeying to get first pick. I can’t wait for the students to see what’s next.