I’ll explain it to you the way I explained it to my students. My mom always called me a “Rainbow Baby.” I was born on a rainy Saturday in June (my older siblings suggested my name could be Raindrop). Of course, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared. So Mom always collected little rainbow things for me and when I got older I kept collecting. I had a little rainbow suitcase I took on trips, a rainbow windsock, rainbow stickers, a Rainbow Brite doll of course (it was the 1980s after all!), rainbow candles, a rainbow-covered journal…you get the idea. Well, right before I began my official teaching career, my mom gave me this woven, rainbow colored tote bag. (I’m sure she saw it on one of her weekly T.J. Maxx excursions and thought, Anne has to have this!) I loved it. She suggested I use it in my classroom, but I wasn’t quite sure what its place would be…
Despite what much of the work force believes, teachers work very hard during the summer. We attend workshops, collaborate with other teachers, set up our classrooms, buy and prepare materials, make curriculum maps for the year, plan lesson after lesson, and are constantly thinking about how we can be better teachers, how we can make this year more successful than the last. One summer I attended what proved to be a life-changing literacy workshop. By the end of the week I was more excited about teaching reading than I’d ever been–and–I knew what I wanted to do with the rainbow bag.
One of the greatest ways to get children excited about reading is to show them your passion for it. If you think Eloise is the most fabulous character ever created, they will too. If you think Kevin Henkes is a comic genius, they will laugh hysterically when you read his books with them. Model, model, model! And so, I decided that each Monday I would bring the rainbow bag to class and during our daily read aloud time, I would reveal its contents–one of my favorite picture books. I usually tried to connect the book with a holiday or special event (you’ll find I’ll often do that here on the blog) or with something we were currently studying in another subject. Another exciting part about Rainbow Book day was that I gave each child one skittle to eat while I was reading (“taste the rainbow!”). Of course, that one skittle, per child, per week was about the extent of the candy consumption in my classroom, so it was a real treat! On Tuesday-Friday I read aloud from whichever novel we were currently on, but Mondays were something truly special.
And now I get to share these favorite “Rainbow Books” with you…I hope they become as near and dear to you as they are to me. Enjoy!