I know why the deer in headlights stalls. To most it’s just a poor choice, standing in the way of vehicles, a swift way to death and automative repair bills. But I know why the deer stalls. The deer stalls for the some reasons I stalled this morning. The deer stalls in the face of a rapidly moving, bright thing, bigger than it can comprehend. The deer stalls and at that moment thoughts such as these are racing through it’s brain:
WHAT IS THIS?! WHAT DO I DO NOW?? I’LL JUST STAND HERE. RIGHT HERE, NOT MOVING. NO, MAYBE I NEED TO RUN AWAY? WHAT IS THIS MAGNIFICENCE BEFORE ME?! MAYBE I SHOULD RUN? RUNNING WOULD BE A GOOD CHOICE. NO, I’LL JUST STAND HERE. MAYBE I NEED TO RUN. WAIT, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH, NO I NEED TO LEAP TOWARDS IT!
However, what usually ends poorly for the deer, did not do so for me this morning. Today I had the privilege to attend Shenandoah University’s Children’s Literature Conference. Today I stalled when author/illustrator Peter Brown finished his presentation. I wanted to tell him how his books had changed me and my students. I wanted to tell him how incredible it was that he had emailed me back and forth months prior. I wanted to tell him how much I enjoy his books, how they helped me rediscover excitement over books. I wanted to tell him how that excitement got passed on to students. I wanted to tell him how much I truly loved his work and found his description of his process incredible.
But I stalled. I stalled in the face of something big and bright. I stalled in front of magnificence. Luckily I was far enough away at that moment to dart in the shadows before collision. Collision came later at lunch and the smaller sessions where I fumbled and he was gracious.
Then I wandered into another session to nurse my wounds, to start the process of questioning every moment of our encounter and agonizing over what I could have done or said differently. What I stumbled upon was another inspiring author, Aaron Reynolds and the process was suspended as I sat enthralled by yet another storyteller.
But before I get lost waxing and waning over the experiences of today or restart questioning my behavior when meeting an idol, I feel that I need to share the story of our summer so far. I need to explain why it seems we have abandoned our writing here. We haven’t. It’s summer. Summer, which for Jessica means a vacation at the beach, relaxing with family and watching her baby (who I swear was born like last week) learn to crawl and explore. Summer, which for me means projects. Projects like semi-stalking my favorite authors, building greenhouses out of CD cases, curating photo books, doing Reading Rainbow’s summer challenge, the bookaday challenge, building a companion website for my students and the BI-ANNUAL CLASSROOM LIBRARY MIGRATION.
Each summer, due to a lack of acceptable storage, a desire not to be parted from my books and a strange love of organizing and reorganizing the collection, the library comes home.
Here is the library.
The migration usually takes about four trips like this:
Then they sit in my house like this:
Sometimes they take over my kitchen table like this:
Because part of the process is spending an exorbitant amount of time weeding, reading, sorting, reading, reorganizing, reading, labeling and convincing myself that creating an electronic catalog would be a wonderful idea.
It’s honestly a wonder that I have any time left to do anything else. But I do. And part of what I have been doing with my library is the companion website. I wanted to keep my students reading over the summer and am always up for a challenge such as Donalyn Miller’s bookaday challenge. So I combined the two to create Stories with Seelbach, where I am chronicling my journey to read 100 books (about a book a day) before the end of the summer. For the shorter picture books, I’m creating videos of me reading (which is what gets the students checking in) and for longer books, I’ll just usually print a blurb about the experience of reading it. I’m also really looking forward to when I fly back home to visit and the site becomes Stories with Seelbachs.
So that’s why we aren’t here. It’s summer, and we’ve got a lot going on. Now, I need to get back to reveling over my day and the latest fan-letter to an author. Hopefully somewhere I get caught in headlights again soon. I’ll leave you with these: