Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Coffee

How to Thank a Teacher
As teachers and students are wrapping up the school year, parents and some students might be wondering about "teacher gifts." This is probably more common in younger grades, but as a high school teacher, I have received many gifts from students and their families. Usually it is something small (a bottle of lotion, soap, homemade cookies, maple syrup). I've also receieved gift cards (often for bookstores), and I have to admit that was nice. And once I received an extremely high-quality key chain from a famous fashion designer.

I have a suggestion for a gift that is virtually free. If you want to thank a teacher, do it in writing. The thank you notes and letters that I have received from students and their families are the most cherished gifts I have ever been bestowed, and I have saved every one. Even if it is scrawled on the crumpled page of a spiral notebook, and torn out with those little fragments dangling, I cherish a personal note.

So if you want to make your teacher, or your child's teacher, feel appreciated, write a personal note. It doesn't have to be long, but it should be specific. Saying "I appreciate all that you have done for my son" is not as meaningful as "thank you for igniting my son's interest in books" or "thank you for helping Johnny increase his vocabulary."

I'm thinking about this because I've gotten a couple of notes from students this year, and they carry so much weight for me. It means everything that J. says I inspired him to write, or that A. remembers my passion for literature, and thanks me for helping her come to love the poetry of John Keats.

Armchair BEA
I want to encourage anyone who didn't make it to BEA (and anyone who did make it to BEA) to spend some time checking out the posts at Armchair BEA. Since we have a three-day weekend, I'm going to grant myself the luxury of spending some time checking out all the participant posts. Next year I plan to participate more fully, and not just lurk the first few days.

Why Do We Book Blog
For an insightful take on the question of why we blog about books, check out this well-written and thoughtful post by Red at What Red Read.

This question of why book bloggers blog about books has been in the blogosphere lately. The Reading Ape has a whole series of posts on the topic, and it was a question for Armchair BEA posts.

A Question for You
The question of why I blog about books is one I'd like to save for a fully conceived post. But here are some thoughts: I blog about books because writing helps me organize my thoughts, because writing about the books I have read deepens my understanding of those books, because writing is how I engage with the world, because I write for the entire bookish audience (bloggers, readers, authors, my Mom) hoping they will write back. Because I want to be a part of the conversation.

If you are a book blogger, why do you do it? If you are a reader of book blogs, why do you read book blogs, and what do you most appreciate?


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I teach primary school in the UK and at the end of the year (not until 22nd July for us, I'm jealous of you all finishing already!) I get an assortment of chocolates, teddy bears, candles and bath salts. I appreciate the thought, but like you I prefer handmade cards or letters.

Lisa said...

As the daughter of two teachers I can vouch for your suggestion of a thank you note as being something that will always be cherished. Teachers are so often criticized, so often expected to be parents as well as teachers, so often pushed to teach for tests more than to just teach. It's nice to be told that you've done well and made a difference. My dad has been out of teaching for 16 years and still comes across people he had as students who tell him what a difference he made. Know that even those who may not think to give you those notes now will carry away from your classroom a piece of you that will always stay with them!

Jinky said...

Thanks for your insight on thanking a teacher. I'm going to do that! :)

bibliophiliac said...

@TinyLibrary-Teddy Bears-that's so cute! July 22nd-I know you can make it...

@Lisa-that is so cool about your Dad. He must have had quite an impact if they still remember him after so many years.

bibliophiliac said...

@Jinky-that will be so nice!

Chrisbookarama said...

I book blog because I want to discuss the books I read with other readers and I also want to remember what I thought about those books. Thanks for participating in Armchair BEA!

Kate said...

Hey Lisa! Hope your school year is winding down beautifully.

I agree with you that letters are the absolute best gift. I save all of mine in a little box. Gift cards to bookstores or coffee shops are pretty great as well, truth be told. When I worked at the elementary school, a kid gave me a pair of pink toenail clippers. Another time a different kid gave me deodorant - she was in Kindergarten, and I walked around the rest of the day very paranoid until I found out she gave the same thing to all her teachers.

My blog began first as a handwritten journal in my nightstand. When I decided to start a blog, I kept the format and language I used casual, just as I had in my journal. I agree with you, it helps to organize my thoughts, but it also put me in contact with other readers! I love voicing an opinion about a character and seeing others reply that they feel the same way, or they feel differently. Great bookish conversations!

I love reading book blogs. I get great reading suggestions, and get to see opinions on books I've already read. It's lovely feeling as though I've gotten to know people I've never actually met - all tied together because we love to read.

I most appreciate book blogs which focus on reviews with personal posts jumbled in (so I get to know the person behind the blog!). I'm not a huge fan of blogs that consist of mostly memes - although memes can be fun, I skim past most of them.

bibliophiliac said...

@Chrisbookarama-thanks for helping to organize Armchair BEA-you did a tremendous job!

bibliophiliac said...

@Kate-deodorant as a teacher gift! that's the best one I've ever heard. I've gotten a lot of hand sanitizer (sensible) and some other personal care products that did make me feel just slightly paranoid. I'm with you on the mix of bookish stuff and personal stuff in book blogs. I love when book bloggers share snippets of their personal lives.

Ashley M. said...

I hope that when I'm a teacher I get letters and notes as nice as the ones you've received :) -Ashley

bibliophiliac said...

@Ashley-You will!