Monday, March 30, 2020

Under the Table: A Poem for Independent Readers

Back in the 1990s when I was teaching 2nd grade, I noticed a phenomenon, whenever I announced it was time for independent reading. While some of may students would grab a book and sit on the  carpet or bean bag chairs, a large percentage would take their books under the classroom tables and desks to read. When I asked them about it, they said it was like there own little reading fort or hideaway, where they could escape for 20 minutes and just read. It reminded me of my childhood days when I liked to read by flashlight under the covers of my bed.

The experience inspired this poem, which was published in The Reading Teacher (52.1, p. 75) and in the book, Poetic Possibilities: Using Poetry to Enhance Literacy, by Susan Israel (IRA, 2006).

Under the Table by Russ Walsh

Under the table's the best place to read.
A good book and small table are all that I need
For a morning's adventure
Or a tale of dark doom.
Under the table -
My own reading room.

Under the table, where it's dark and it's quiet,
I open a book and start my own reading riot
With castles and dragons
And maids in distress
And a hero to come in
And clean up the mess.

Under the table I've a place of my own,
Where my book and I can be left quite alone.
To climb the high mountains
Or swim with the fishes,
To uncover a Genie
To fulfill my wishes.

So each day in my classroom at just about ten,
When time for reading rolls around once again,
Under the table's
Where I can be found
With a book in my lap
And no one around.

When planning for independent reading space in your classroom, consider creating as many kid friendly spaces as possible and make sure lots and lots of books and poetry are available in those spaces.

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