One of my all-time favourite books is Heartbeat by Sharon Creech. I stumbled upon it one day because I was getting tired of my daily commute to work. I decided that I would start listening to audio books on the drive instead of CDs or the radio. I picked out a few from the children’s section to see if they might be good to study in my class.
I put this CD in my car and was immediately drawn to it. It didn’t sound like a typical novel. It was beautiful and poetic. All I knew at the time was that it sounded amazing.
After listening to it and really enjoying it, I found a copy of the book and noted that it was actually a verse novel. If you flipped through the book and didn’t know it was a novel, you might think that it was a poetry collection. But it is not, it tells a great story about a twelve-year old girl who likes to run.
I decided that I wanted to share this story with my class so I bought eight copies of it. I also bought a copy of the audio book read by Mandy Siegfried. This way I could play the audio book for the class and the students could follow along in the book.
The audio book is two and an half hours long so it could easily be broken down into small chunks and listened to each day. We did just that last week. Before we started, I told the class how much I enjoy this book and that I would be giving away one of the copies of it at the end of the week. This seemed to really engage them.
All of the students who finished the reading response activities from the week were eligible to win a copy of the book. They just needed to answer one more question in a paragraph. Not all the students chose to do so. Those that did, got their name put into a hat and I drew a winner.
The students were really engaged during this entire novel study. I think that I will do this from now on. Whenever I read a book to the class or do a novel study, I think I will give it away at the end as a prize. This just became the start of a tradition in my class.