Thursday, July 12, 2012


I'm not a crier. Not usually. I cry only once in a while. And usually not at school. I can probably count the times I've cried during my seventeen years of teaching.

It usually happens when I'm reading aloud. Where the Red Fern Grows did it to me every year in third grade. 
Image Choose Kind by mrsdkrebs

And the following email to my disappointed eighth graders when they couldn't climb a rock wall for a prize they won when they brought the most cans for the food drive: 
Due to another windy day in Iowa and because of some mechanical difficulties, we will not be able to climb the wall as was planned. I am sorry. We will some day. Either this summer or next fall. But, please, do not forget why you are climbing the wall. It is because of your generosity and determination, and the generosity of your parents, that you were able to donate the most food. Thank you for caring. Next year when you go to High School you will be given more opportunities to serve others. Please do not wait till your junior of senior year. Explore the different opportunities right away and you will find out that you have gifts you never knew you had and that there are people that need your help.

I cried when I got to "Next year when you go to High School" because I was going to miss them dearly. I know this class will "choose kind." They will care and serve others when they get to high school.

Image by mrsdkrebs

Now, I'm faced with a dilemma. I just finished reading Wonder. If you read it, you might know what I'm going to say. I don't know if I can read it aloud to my class. I will be a blubbering idiot. All of a sudden, I've become a crier over this book. As I read the last few pages, I knew I would want my students to hear this one from me. Later I even practiced reading some of it aloud. It definitely would not have been understandable over my whimpering. However, I do wish every middle school teacher would read it to his or her class. The children should hear it.

The story is about August Pullman, a boy with a rare genetic condition that has given him a disfigured face. Having been homeschooled through fourth grade for health reasons, Auggie is now well enough to go to regular school for fifth grade. Wonder is told from several characters' points of view during the course of his first year of school at Beecher Prep.

Wonder is a beautiful, substantive and important book for people of any age who care about kindness. It is well-told, funny, and realistic. It's R.J. Palacio's first novel.

Here are some great Wonder resources!

Image #thewonderofwonder by Mr. SchuReads


  1. I understand completely. I refuse to read "Bridge to Terabithia" out loud to classes any more. The last time turned me into a blubbering mess. And I read it several times before. I will definitely be reading "Wonder" on my own time though. Thanks.

  2. Mavis,
    I understand now how you might be with Bridge to Terabithia. This was my first time being so affected by a book. My experience crying during Where the Red Fern Grows was just in one place at the end, so I could muddle through. I'm afraid I would have tears many times during this book!

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Okay, so I guess I was kind of prepared for this book, for I wasn't such a crier - a few tears came, but I wasn't bad. I didn't try reading it aloud, though! There are so many good quotes strewn throughout, and I'm a sucker for a good quite, so I know I'll be sharing this with my kids. How - has yet to be determined! Thanks for the resources, Denise!
    From one bibliophile to another,

  4. Joy,
    Thanks! I sometimes wonder if books affect me because of a certain place I am in my life. Maybe the book itself isn't as important as WHEN I read it. This was definitely the best book I've read this summer, and I appreciated the good cry that came. But I also think it may have to do with other things going on too: all the professional reading I'm doing about reading and writing and how kids can have more free choice, yet I can have higher expectations; genius hour and lifelong learning; kindness and anti-bullying campaigns popping up as we deal with the sad reality that young people are taking their lives as a result of being bullied. I know I needed a good cry!

    Thanks, as always, for helping me reflect!


  5. Hi Denise,
    I wish I had better control over my tear ducts, but they seem to have a mind of their own. I am a crier. I judge books by the tear index sometimes! I have shed many a tear in front of kids and have handed out tissues too! One year my sophomores and I blubbered our way through the end of The Day No Pigs Would Die.

    I hope you will read Wonder to your students. One of our teacher said the discussions she had with her 6th graders were the best she had ever experienced. A few tears shed along the way is okay too!


    1. Julie,
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I read The Day No Pigs Would Die, and I can certainly imagine you and the sophomores blubbering through the end.

      I will read Wonder. I had already been thinking that kindness would be a theme for us this year, so this will be a great book to start us out in August. Be Kind

      Thank you,

  6. Denise
    I can't remember if I cried or not, but pleased you wrote this post as it has made me think how will I handle it if I do. However I am thinking some of my students will be there before me! I noticed some tears at the end of Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt when I read that to them. They clapped that book when I had finished it.

    I start reading Wonder aloud on Monday - going to start my day with it.

    1. Kathryn,
      If anyone starts crying before me, I'm a basket case! I hope my students don't cry! (Actually, that would be OK if they do.)

      I did think that I might be able to have a student take over the reading if my voice breaks up too badly!

      I'll be anxious to hear how the reading goes, and in the meantime, I've added Okay for Now to my reading list!


  7. Nothing wrong with crying. Art, if it's worth anything, is supposed to generate a genuine emotional reaction. I think it is good for kids to see adults shed a few tears due to a heartfelt reaction to a compelling story.

    Still, we do try to fight that feeling. I got teary over THE FAULT IN OUR STARS even though I knew what was coming. While I don't remember, I may have first cried reading WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS when a coon is first hunted. As for read-alouds, I can't get through LOVE THAT DOG. My students know I'm a crazy animal lover and several volunteered to read the end on my behalf. I let two of them. By then, the story was ours.

    We should not shy away from the tear-jerkers if they have something powerful to say. Keep a box of Kleenex by your side and carry on!

  8. Gregory,
    Thanks so much for the great advice! I am definitely committed now! It's neat how a conversation can take my dilemma away. I love how you said, "By then, the story was ours." It gives me chills! I do want the genuine emotional reaction with art and my lovely students, so I will carry on! I'll be reading Wonder.

    Thanks again,

  9. Okay Denise - I know we have some connection as I would cry every time I read "Where the Red Fern Grows" to my class. I stopped reading it to them as I just wasn't up for it. It's funny though, because I always seem to be reading aloud stories that make me cry!

    I loved what Gregory said about real Art generating a genuine emotional reaction. While I do not like to be seen crying at school, it has been known to happen while reading books or saying our good byes on the last day of school. I will say that the kids seem taken aback when that happens.

    So I haven't started reading 'Wonder' yet as I'm in the middle of The Girl Who Played with Fire. 'Wonder' is next on the list. Still trying to decide if I should purchase it for the Kindle or grab the hardcopy at Barnes and Noble.

    Thanks so much for sharing your post and resources! Love all that you do!