The Layers of a Book


March SOL Challenge–Day 3


Books have nurtured me throughout my life. Within their pages I’ve found so many things: Companionship, wisdom, adventure, knowledge, understanding, wonder, refuge, and respite. I truly believe there have been times in my life when books saved me–offering me escape from painful reality, a new perspective or a way to move forward.

I pick up books at book stores, library sales, yard sales, my local recycling barn, and anywhere else I can lay my hands on them.  At my home, books tumble in piles near my bed, fill cardboard boxes, gather on table tops, crowd multiple bookcases, and even spill over into my car. These accumulated books often carry tangible talismans from their past: a comment scribbled in the margin, dog-eared pages, a torn corner, a coffee cup stain, photographs, a note, a letter, a receipt, an inscription.  Each mark or item tells a story that adds to the book. I can only imagine the details, but feel richer for having touched or held these items. They add another layer to the story of that book.  Perhaps the life of a book doesn’t only exist within its pages but encompasses its life as a physical object, accumulating over time.

Not surprisingly my classroom is also filled with books.  The other day I was tidying up, tucking books away in the classroom library, and I found this anonymous sticky note waving from the pages of a book.


Translation (for those who are not fluent in First Grade):

note to me
T.rex has a period
after T
but the R
is still lowercase

This note delighted me on so many levels, though I struggle to explain exactly why. I can imagine a student actively reading this book, thoroughly engaged and aware, noticing that lower case r after T. in T.rex and then puzzling about it. I love the evidence that this student stopped and wondered about something new or different. This time it was punctuation, perhaps next time it will be an idea or an unknown word. There is an earnest learner here, taking the time to write a memo “note to me”, and clearly writing down each sound (and a few extras) to spell that challenging word “period”.  “Pearyied.” And I guess at the bottom of it all, I’m entranced by that earnestness, that investment in learning, and by the evidence left of a reading life.

After I read the sticky note and shared it with a few colleagues, I tucked it back into the pages of that book. There it rests, another layer in this book’s life, a talisman, waiting for discovery by another reader at another time.

22 thoughts on “The Layers of a Book

  1. vanessaw2007 says:

    I can relate to everything that you said about books and feel exactly the same way. I love how you tucked that note back into the book for some other observant first grader to find.


  2. I love how you captured the joy of books!
    What a delightful reflection about the note you found!


  3. dogtrax says:

    I am finding myself
    in the tangible talismans from the past —
    a scribbled note in the margin
    a lost bookmark of dust
    a folded corner marking the forgotten
    a secret note never read —
    so I leave my own invisible ink, too,
    a message of Self that reminds me
    to remember the paths I have taken
    and the stories I have lived.

    –Kevin, lifting (and tinkering) with a line to build a poem as comment

    Liked by 1 person

  4. missmoyer says:

    I love this.
    Have the privilege this year of having some students two years in a row as I moved from third to fourth. Their journey as readers is amazing to see in a new perspective. Books have saved me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amy says:

    No doubt that books are a treasure! And the post-it note is absolutely priceless! I can appreciate such a treasure so I can imagine how you felt when you initially stumbled upon it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just love the thoughts that go through young readers minds as they read. It is wonderful when students independently jot down their thoughts as they read. Clearly their teacher is pretty inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great moment! Always great to see students not only reading but thinking about their reading and as a writer too! I love the spelling of period! I teach Kindergarten and it’s always a great feeling watching students bloom into readers and writers!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kimberley says:

    That note. That note! That is something to treasure. I love the little brain thinking like an adult already with a need to remember. Perfect. I adore books as well and feel like the ones that have been passed along have more life. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. caroline524 says:

    I always enjoy finding those little gems. It makes me want to peruse through more of my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tara Smith says:

    I love finding my students’ post its at the end of each school year – the traces of their thinking, and of growing up. So sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my goodness, This is so stinkin’ cute! I really enjoy your translation. I teach middle school- and I am so impressed with elementary teachers’ ability to decode student’s work!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Linda Baie says:

    I’m glad you took a picture to capture it, but really glad you put it back. I love used books and the papers, or margin notes left behind, even if it’s just name and date.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cindy says:

    YES! I love that you put the post it back in the book- it really gives the book a life of its own! Just like we saw those books at the book sale today, someone will find that sticky and have some sort of reaction- it might even be you, years from now, remembering that student’s thoughts and this blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love the idea of post-its being talisman. A part of the book’s story. Evidence of a reader’s life. Beautiful language, Molly.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Dana Murphy says:

    This is great! Close reading by a six year old!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. danrothermel says:

    I love how you have chronicled the life and lives of your classroom. As always, I think there is a wider audience for your insightful, descriptive writing. Keep the classroom stories acoming.


  17. Melanie Roy says:

    What a magical age to teach where they really are earnest little learners. I love that sticky note! And I love that you put it back inside the book for someone else to find.


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