The tables are set with primary-colored table cloths. Snacks neatly poured into bowls of various sizes. Menus crisply folded. Pencils sharpened with brand new erasers, placed in the center of each menu as the only utensil needed. Books carefully strewn over any empty space, titles peeking out from behind one another. The Thomas Cafe is ready for customers.
As the students approach, I hear “Yay! Another book tasting! I loved doing this last time.” This makes my heart burst.
“Come on in. Welcome to today’s historical fiction book tasting. Please find a seat. Service will begin in a moment.”
The students bustle about, putting binders and computers away. Finding a seat, anxiously awaiting instructions. I wait while each person gets settled, which honestly, doesn’t take long because they know what is coming. All eyes are on me. Let’s do this.
“All right. You remember the rules. Scan the books. Pick a title which interests you. Read the first three pages – that’s all. Then record your thoughts. You may snack while you read, but remember, the goal is to taste the books. When the timer dings after seven minutes, we rotate to the next station. Are you ready?”
The yeses echo around the room, like kernels of popcorn, indicating they’re anticipation. “Enjoy,” and I begin the timer. They dig right in. For the next 45 minutes, every child is reading. Not only are they reading, they are devouring the books and wanting more. The jazz music quietly plays in the background. Occasionally, you hear the turn of a page, the crunch of a cheese ball, the unwrapping of a mint. And each time the alarm rings, groans are heard and “Just one more minute” is yelled. These kids are all in.
As the end of our book tasting approaches, each student surveys the various books they have tasted and try to narrow down one title to consume on their own. Most leave with at least one new book to read. Many have a list of multiple books they want to experience. Some are hoping mom or dad will download it on the Kindle so they don’t have to wait for their peers to finish before diving in. Even I discover a new book to add to my ever-growing stack of escapes. Another successful book tasting has come to a close. Until next time…
Learner, Thinker, Writer: Amanda Thomas serves the Trinity School community as a 5th Grade Teacher.