Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: It’s All About the Books!
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-3491,single-format-standard,ajax_updown,page_not_loaded,,vertical_menu_enabled,qode-title-hidden,side_area_uncovered_from_content,qode-theme-ver-13.1.2,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.5,vc_responsive

Slice of Life: It’s All About the Books!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hLast July I wrote a post about dear friends who were moving away. They have been in Memphis for eight months now and are just moving into their house. All of their things have been in storage as they await reconstruction on their house.  After eight months…the boxes have arrived. She sent a group of our friends a photo to show the disaster she was dealing with – four boys and twenty-five years of marriage adds up to a lot of boxes.

Here is the photo she sent:


By the time I saw it several other people had responded empathizing with her situation. Some how I did not have the same reaction as everyone else. I completely missed the disaster. All I saw were the books on the shelves….

My reply: But the books are out. That is all that matters.

Her reply: Alphabetical by author. Yes, my house is a disaster, but my boys have books and they are happy.

What a message this sends to her kids?  The kitchen is still in boxes… but we have books to read!  It is so refreshing to see the love of reading – pure and simple- being displayed loud and clear.

Lillian Katz said, “Dispositions are caught not taught.”  As parents we need to realize we can’t expect dispositions to come from school – dispositions are our job. We cannot order, hire or download dispositions.

Dispositions can be thought of as habits of mind and are not learned through instruction or drill rather they are acquired when children are around people who frequently, consciously, and voluntarily exhibit a pattern of behavior that is intentional and directed toward a broad goal. “Dispositions are not learned by children through formal instruction but are nurtured by people, contexts and the environment that surrounds them – dispositions are caught rather than taught.” (Dowling, 2006; 92)

When I see this photo I know what this family values and nurtures. When you are surrounded by four truckloads of boxes and you decide to unpack the books first… the message is clear. Her house may be a disorganized mess right now, but her life is completely focused on what matters to her.


Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for us to share our stories each day in March.  Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts and consider joining this community.

  • Avatar
    Kimberley Moran
    Posted at 09:45h, 16 March Reply

    That’s all I saw too! I was thinking, “Oh those book shelves!” I love how my children ask people they’ve just met, “what are you reading right now?” It says so much about what we value. Great post.

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Laffin
    Posted at 09:50h, 16 March Reply

    Me too! Books first. When you wrote of dispositions, I couldn’t help but think of growth mindset. We have been working hard on establishing this mindset of “yet” in our school and it is so awesome to see kids naturally apply it.

  • Avatar
    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 09:55h, 16 March Reply

    “Why do you need more books?”
    I had a friend who actually asked me that once as we were strolling through a flea market. “Question not the need,” I replied quoting King Lear.
    Books are like bread and water. Or oxygen!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 10:11h, 16 March Reply

    Oh my goodness! I love these shelves! Their priorities are right on target.


  • Avatar
    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 11:05h, 16 March Reply

    What a great photo and a wonderful message! Ralph says that if we ever move we just should put a sign on the front lawn that say “Lynne’s Lending Library” and hire a librarian! I get this because I love my books and am so happy that my goddaughters love books the way I do. I read to them almost every night when they were little. Clare, I think it is so exceptional – this talent you have – this ability to look at events and the little things in life through the eyes of a loving parent and a caring educator. Is there a book somewhere in this? I think YES!

  • Avatar
    Lisa McDonald
    Posted at 12:56h, 16 March Reply

    I love this! We have just built identical bookshelves in our den. It’s filled with children’s books that the kids helped me reshelve. When my builder saw it finished he mentioned how happy it made him to see it in this day where everything is going electronic. A true gift.

  • Avatar
    Liz Mckenna
    Posted at 13:46h, 16 March Reply

    I think everyone here honed in on those beautiful book shelves immediately! I know I did! My husband and I talk about this a lot now that we are new parents–how can we instill a love of books and learning in our daughter. I love the idea that it is shared and passed on. I will be sharing this with him tonight! Thanks for sharing! (PS-My daughter’s name is Claire, so I’m especially glad to share your wisdom :))

  • Avatar
    Posted at 14:35h, 16 March Reply

    I noticed the books first, too! In fact, the boxes kind of didn’t matter. At first I thought they were in the garage and I marveled at having such lovely book shelves there, but then I realized the picture was from inside the house. Great message about dispositions, too, and thinking about what is important in life.

  • Avatar
    Bonnie Kaplan
    Posted at 14:45h, 16 March Reply

    Agreed! Books first! I just finished filling boxes and there’s just 5 to move out of the apartment and down to the garage. No books in those boxes but living in chaos and it’s only been a week for me, is torture.
    Bravo to your friend who has chaos still.
    Here’s hoping it comes to an end very soon,

  • Avatar
    Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 15:00h, 16 March Reply

    This is wonderful! And I appreciate your message about sending our own strong messages to our children. When we moved into our house after a reno – the first thing I organized were the bookshelves!

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 16:20h, 16 March Reply

    I’ve visited a few people through the years where their homes are completely devoid of print, no books or magazines to be seen. I was always sad to see that her children didn’t have the joy of a house full of books. I’m sure we all agree, Claire, we just say the books & those fabulous shelves, and know this family chose a house that fits them well.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 16:39h, 16 March Reply

    Oh, I can relate! After our last move, which probably consisted of more boxes of books than boxes of clothing (and were much heavier, of course!), my husband declared that he is NEVER moving my books again. So, I guess that means the books have to go or we are never moving… We’ve been here 12 years and counting…

  • Avatar
    Karen Szymusiak
    Posted at 17:13h, 16 March Reply

    It’s certainly a celebration of books and reading. Many important things to be considered. So glad the books were unpacked first.Thanks for sharing the picture. I want those book cases!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 18:10h, 16 March Reply

    Books first. How cool is this!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 18:59h, 16 March Reply

    That’s what I zoomed in on, too – everything looks better with books on the shelf.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 00:44h, 17 March Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m jealous of the big, beautiful bookshelves.

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 00:46h, 17 March Reply

    Oh my gosh, I love the books, and that was what I noticed about the picture before I even read the post. I’m a little inspired by the concept of them in alphabetical order. I work so hard to have my girls know how much I value books, notebooks, special pens, my laptop (and not for facebook). Hopefully it continues to rub off, definitely to some more than others. Great post, Clare!

Post A Comment

Verification *