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There’s a misconception by some that educators get summers off.

In reality, it’s a vital period of recovery and re-energizing so that we bring new ideas to the classroom in August. We spend those two and half months reviewing successes and failures from the last term, absorbing new teaching strategies and creative learning applications, creating files and presentations, and never passing up a sale for books and supplies that we’ll haul to campus much too soon. Our summer breaks are not wasted, and they prevent us from quitting every June out of frustration and exhaustion.

My supervising Librarian gave me a couple of advanced copy paperbacks to read over the summer. I’m reading Framed! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1), by James Ponti. First of all, it’s fun to read! Ponti doesn’t write down to his audience. The text and dialogue are clever, witty, and enlightening. His characters are self-assured, inquisitive, moral and respectful – so refreshing!

Best of all, this book is an ideal vehicle for engaging Intermediate and Middle School students with a read-aloud in the classroom and to inspire them to want to pay close attention to details. I highly recommend this book to English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) teachers.

T.O.A.S.T. refers to Theory of All Small Things. It’s exemplified brilliantly as the author unwinds an art mystery. The entertaining chapters serve to teach readers how noticing even the most minute details helps to create a bigger picture that can solve even the most intricate mysteries.

I was only a few chapters in when I posted my recommendation to an ELAR teacher at my campus. I suggested that a teacher could create an interactive classroom theme around T.O.A.S.T., inviting students to contribute to bulletin boards about the lessons they are studying. What are the smallest details they notice in their reading or activities? How can these details help give them the big picture that the teacher wants them to see?

T.O.A.S.T. could be used in all subject areas. This theme could be used even more fully for homeschoolers and unschoolers, helping students make a habit of recognizing tiny details in all areas of life, helping them become efficient observers and teaching the skills of making cognitive connections that will serve them well throughout life.

If your child’s teacher doesn’t read this in class, find out if your school library has it, or borrow it from the public library to read aloud as a family. Fun times! You can make a contest of comparing details everyone has noticed during the day.
This book is scheduled to be published in late August. Pick up a copy for your family and an extra copy to donate to the school library. I can’t wait for T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #2!

Hudson Reed Showers