It is amazing to me how 8 little words can change the progression of a day…and a reader. 

After bringing my son to the orthodontist, we arrived late at school and were signing in. His last year’s teacher walked by and stopped to give him a hug and a quick hello. The next 8 words she said to him changed my thinking for days to come. She so naturally and easily said, “So, Hunter, what have you been reading lately?”. As he quickly answered her with ‘Maleficent’, I stood there in disbelief. She did not ask ‘How have you been?’ or ‘How is the fifth grade going?’ or even ‘What have you been up to’? Instead, the first 8 words out of her mouth were, “So, Hunter, what have you been reading lately?”. Those 8 little words awoken my identity as a reader and ignited the passion I had to invite my children and students as readers once again. 

My son reading at 1 year!
After school, I uttered those very same 8 words to my three children as soon as they got off the bus and once again, was amazed by the results. We had an animated conversation about the books we were reading and wanted to read next. My reading spirit soared and it was contagious. Later that night, we stopped at Target for some odds and ends and found ourselves browsing the books. I happily purchased ‘Wonder’, my oldest son purchased ‘Unbroken’, my younger son purchased a new Junie B. Jones text and my daughter, ever the shopper, decided to wait until for the ‘Buy one, Get one’ Scholastic Book Fair the following day, where she purchased Lindsay the Luck Fairy and Dolphin Tales 2.

In the few short days since Hunter’s teacher uttered those magical words, we have come together as a family of readers. My younger son was ‘caught reading’ in the car. My older son once again started reading before bed and my daughter tucked ‘Ivy and Bean’ into her purse for easy access. I transformed my thinking as a literacy teacher educator as well. In my interactions with teachers, I started conversations with those 8 little words and saw the surprised, but happy looks on teachers’ faces as we started talking about the books we were reading, or wanted to read. In my online classes, I posted an announcement with those 8 little words in the subject line and encouraged students to take a moment to share the titles they were reading with others. 

Inspired by those 8 little words, I found some wonderful ways to celebrate our reading and our identities as readers from JoEllen McCarthy’s literacy snapshots at the Ed Collaborative Blog. Try creating a class ‘Glitter Board’ for students to showcase the titles they are reading or even important quotes they are connecting to. You might even make one for each student to celebrate their own independent reading and showcase them in the classroom. As another option, create a ‘What Have You Been Reading?’ bulletin board to showcase students’ reading. Start with a portrait of each student and have students hold a laminated cut-out of a book. As students read a new text, they write in the title of their texts on their ‘book’. Or keep track of the titles students read on index cards on a binder clip and watch them grow and grow!

Do you want to see the pictures of this in action? Follow this link to Jo Ellen’s blog post here:

I will end this post the way I began it and leave you with 8 powerful words. So, readers, what have you been reading lately? How will those 8 words change your thinking today?

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  1. Steph!! I love this! Going to go home and do this! Great piece!!

  2. Thanks, Logan. It amazed me how those 8 little words had such an impact. Let me know how it goes!


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