“I can't imagine a man enjoying a book and reading it only once.” — C. S. Lewis
It's getting on summer time, and if you're at all like me, then you've got an unreasonably high stack of books that you want to tear into between now and when school starts back up. Before you get too heavily into that, let me share a story that might give you some guidance as to what or how you read during this precious time.
Five years ago, I considered myself a reader based on how many books I read. I wasn't reading to learn as much as I was reading to consume, to quantify. There was an almost manic nature to my reading — especially my professional reading. I wanted to accrue books, accrue strategies, accrue tallies to the “Books I've Read” count.
Thankfully — as my wife will readily tell you — I am a poor multitasker. I like to focus, and this part of my nature didn't jive well with the “reading PD books like a maniac” thing that I was doing. So about the time that I started this blog five years ago, I decided that for an entire school year I was only going to read one book — just one — and I was going to seek to apprentice myself to the thinking contained in the book and to (shockingly) experiment with what it told me to do. The book I chose to focus on was, fittingly enough, Focus by Mike Schmoker.
That was not just the year that I began reading like a professional; it wasn't just the year that gave me the insight it takes to read and benefit from vastly more books. It was the year that I developed what became the Foundations Framework for Literacy Instruction Across the Content Areas. Mike's book was critical and so was the time and space to really reflect and practice and dig into its core ideas.
So take a look at that daunting “to read” pile again.
Are you sure?
This hits home for me. I brought home a stack of books to read over the summer. While I believe I have benefited from my professional reading, the more books I consume there comes an inevitable point of diminishing returns. I begin to feel like I’m drowning in a sea of theories and strategies, losing track of which ones and where they are. I feel overwhelmed and ironically like I’m failing because I’m not implementing a majority of what I’ve read in those books. How could I implement everything I’ve read without four hour long class periods? In this case more is not better because what was intended to be a positive turns out to be a hindrance.
Dave, I love your tactic of apprenticeship with one book a year. I’ll have fun choosing and immersing myself in that one book. Thanks for the nudge in this new and right direction!
My pleasure, Michele!