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The Meaning of Books

Trees will thank you for your wisdom.

Picture credit:

Teacher: OK, class, today we'll talk about books! There's total silence; nobody even blinks. Still nothing; I expected something like: Books? That's silly? They're just things we read!

Teacher: We'll come back to that at the end...Here comes silence again, and I'M still waiting. Nada, like a fish.

Teacher: OK, what is a book?

Brave student: Something we read! (Student didn't use a complete sentence, but that's a start).

Teacher: That's a good answer to start with, but what do you mean by something we READ?

Student: You're making me get a headache. Books are for reading!

Teacher: You're correct, but what does it mean to read?

Another student: We READ the words from THE book!

Teacher: Let me ask another way: What is the purpose of reading?

A smiling student: What do you mean what's the octopus of reading?

Teacher: Ok, class, let's come back to the classroom (I get funny looks and frowns).

Most of the class: We ARE in the CLASSROOM!

Teacher: I know; that's a kind of idiom...(something just went terribly wrong here).

A few students, well, almost the entire class; I need to hide, literally...: You said idiot, teacher!

Teacher: I said what?

All students: IDIOT!

Teacher: No, you did, ha, ha. What I actually said was IDIOM: For example, when somebody tells you to go fly a kite, what that really means is that the person who told you that wants you to get away from them and leave them alone. Another example of an idiom is when somebody says they are going to dress the turkey for Thanksgiving; it doesn't mean they're going to make the turkey wear a dress. They're just going to get the turkey for cooking.

Student: Is it like 'see you later, alligator?'

Teacher: Yes, because you don't really speak to an alligator and an alligator won't speak back; it may have other ideas. An idiom doesn't mean what it says.

Student: Idioms are confusing...

Teacher: Idioms are what we call 'figurative language' exactly because they mean something else. Now, let's get back to books and reading...

Student: Yeah, let's get back to the classroom. I just used an idiot!! Oops! I mean, the other word that's not a bad word.

Teacher: Don't worry, we all make mistakes. The good thing is to learn from them, so we don't repeat them.

Same student: I just learned not to repeat the bad word, only IDiom.

Teacher: We know books are for reading the words in them, but why?

New student: So we know what they say.

Teacher: This may sound tricky, but please explain what you just said. What do you mean by that?

NS: I mean that we read the words so we know what they say.

Another student: We read to know more, like LEARN more!

Shy student: We read books to learn new things! (That's my shy-no-more-student).

Teacher: This may sound like we are on a merry-go-round; that's another idiom, but what do we do to learn when we read?

The class funny: Is it Halloween yet? Because I think you're tricking us.

Teacher: Well, you just 'hit the nail on the head;' that's another idiom that means you actually gave one of the answers I'm looking for.

Funny student: I did? Yay! What did I do?

Teacher: If I tell you or make signs, I'll give you the answer, and I want you and everyone else to come up with the answers.

Antsy student: Teacher, Teacher ( I don't have a problem being called 'Teacher,' because I know the reason behind it and it's a sign of respect; no need to ridicule or punish the student), I think I know the answer!!

Teacher: You, too, just gave me an answer or part of it, but please explain.

Antsy student: I THINK we read books so we understand what we read.

Teacher: Excellent; you used the words Think and Understand; those are important words in reading. We must think to understand what we read. WHAT else do we need to do to show we really know HOW to read?

Class leader: We share what we read.

Teacher: Who do you share with and why?

CL: I share with my team, my teacher, my little brothers and sisters, and even my abuelitos because they like to hear my stories...

Teacher: Wow. Does that mean you need to know title or name of the story...

Another student: Where the story happens, what time of the year, who the people or characters are, what the problem is, and who, and how they take care of the problem. Did I get it right, Teacher?

CL: You got it right, but it was my turn to answer.

Back to Another student: I'm sorry, but I had to speak before I forgot my thinking.

CL: It's OK, now I remember more stuff.

Entire class: Me too!

Teacher: Everybody is doing a great job (I don't want to say 'amazing' or 'terrific' because those terms leave a horrific taste in my mouth now). We now know that to read means to Think, Share or Retell the story, and how else do we do to show we know how to read? What am I doing now?

Any student: You're asking too many questions!

Teacher: I'm ASKING too many QUESTIONS, you're right, asking and questioning or asking questions is another way to show we are learning to read. If something isn't clear to us, we need to ask questions or ask for an explanation like, what do you mean by that? I didn't understand that, what does it mean?

CL: Mean is a funny word, like bad.

Teacher: That's what we call a 'multiple-meaning' word, because it has different meanings: definition or bad or unkind. We'll be learning more about multiple-meaning words as we read from our books.

Shy student: Can I tell you what a book is, Teacher?

Teacher: My English Teacher would ask me to ask this way: MAY I tell you what a book is, Teacher? You may tell me what a book is.

Ss: A book is something that teaches us to learn to read by Thinking, Retelling or Recalling, Asking questions, Questioning and understanding what we read, and sunrising.

CL: I think the last one was, Idiom!

Teacher: She meant to say 'summarizing;' that's another important element or part of reading. Who knows what it means?

Ss: It means to tell a long story using short words. (One second, everybody).

Teacher: Would someone politely help X explain 'summarizing?'

Funny dude ( I'd never call a student 'dude,' but I did mess up twice during a kickball game, and years later I learned the student went to law school; I hope he doesn't come back to sue me even though it was a harmless word in español): Summarizing means to tell a long story using just a few words or sentences.

Teacher: Again, everybody's doing an excellent job explaining books and reading. Now you have a useful list of words or verbs, action words, you can use to help you understand anything you read.

Class: I feel smart today!

Teacher: You've always been smart and are just getting started; I mean, smarter. Now, let's hit the books; that's another idiom...!

Class: You want us to read books, not hit them.

Teacher: Yes, and the trees that were cut down to make those books will thank you.

Students: But Teacher...

Teacher: Great thinking! So remember, the most important thing about reading is to try to get meaning by applying or using all those important words and elements you have learned.

Students: But Teacher, the trees are already...

Teacher: And you're doing exactly the right things: Thinking, Questioning, and Asking.

Students: But, Teacher.

Teacher: I get it; write or draw what you want to tell me, and then you share, if you want to.

If you're happy and you know it...

Teacher: I started writing this today and finished yesterday. What happened?