The prompt: What can you not stop doing?
The answer that comes immedietely to mind is buying books. Looking back on just this month (which is only halfway over), I’ve already purchesed a total of 20 books. That’s more than a book a day. Yikes.
It started on Election Day. With a day off from teaching, I treated myself to a quick trip to my favorite bookstore, Politics and Prose. I had heard author, Kwame Alexander on NPR the day before discussing his newest YA novel, Becoming Mohammed Ali, and I had to get it. I ended up buying it, plus 3 more. As a reading teacher, I easily justify my purchases. It’s my job to recommend books to my students and how better than to buy the newest by the best YA authors. Unfortunately, my job does not come with an expense account.
One would think these four new texts would last me for the month but no. As I scrolled through my twitter feed days later, I saw the librarian friend’s post: Virtual Book Fair beings today! Wanting to be supportive, I scrolled through 24 pages of online options and soon filled my electronic cart with 15 books. “All orders over $30 will have FREE shipping” it stated as I checked out. I easily met this requirement, times eight.
That adds up to 19. Last Friday I bought 1 more book. I had to.
It was Friday, Period 5, my last class of another long week of teaching safely from my spare bedroom using TEAMS. Staring at my computer screen, I only saw multiple circles, each filled with two intials, each centered on a gray rectangle and in the bottom left hand corner in 6pt font, a student’s name. I glanced at the clock and noticed just five minutes with my faceless 6th grade reading class. I glanced back and noticed C was here today! I’ve been worried about C. Actually my whole middle school team has been worried about him due to his sporatic attendance and his incomplete assignments piling up across all seven of his classes.
“C, how’s it going? Do you have a book to read or can I help you find one?”
A whispered voice replied, “No, I need help.”
“Great!” I answered. “Let me share my screen and remind you how to access the school’s library catalog. If you pick a book today, it can be ready for pickup during Monday’s Curbside pickup.” As I demonstrated the clicks needed to get to the catalog, I recalled conferring with C weeks ago and how the Diary of a Wimpy Kid was his favoirte series.
“Hey, C. The newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book came out. Want to search for it?
“Oh, Yes!” an excited voice replied.
The catalog showed the school library did have a copy but it was already checked out. I voiced directions to help C successfully place this title on hold and now he was on the Wait List. Then it was time to end this class and head to lunch. I wished C a good weekend and his gray restangle, showing his initials, left my screen. I pressed the red LEAVE bar and ended our online reading class.
However, C’s “Oh, Yes!” stuck with me as I headed to the kitchen to make my lunch and happily return to my home classroom because all I had left to do was a planning period and then begin my weekend. I returned to my computer and checked C’s online file. Discovering he lived just a mile away, I impulsively grabbed my wallet and my mask and drove to my neighborhood Barnes and Nobel. They, of course, had a big display of this popular book. I quickly grabbed one, headed to the checkout and was safely back in my car in record time. (With Covid, I try not to spend too long inside a store.) Sitting in my car, I printed out this note to stick in the book:
I wanted you to be the first
to borrow my classroom copy of this book.
So glad you are in my reading class.
Then I sheepishly drove to the address listed in his file. Though it felt a little bit like stalking, I knew he would like getting this special delivery. So I knocked and when a woman, I assumed to be his mother answered, I simply said, “This is for C” and I handed her the book and left.
My count was 4 on Election Day. Then it grew to 19 after my impulsive book fair purchased. Then Friday’s purchase brought it to an even 20. What can I not stop doing? I can’t stop buying books. It seems like an expensive vise. Yet, I’m OK with it. Having students like C benefit from my addiction makes it perfectly OK for me.