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Two articles about chapter books | Class #3, 2015

Jack Gantos as a child

Jack Gantos as a child

This week in addition to our three chapter books, we are reading two articles.

The first is Robin Smith’s piece about her road to becoming a second grade teacher who loves LOVES books, and how she shares them with her classes: “Teaching New Readers to Love Books” from the September/October 2003 Horn Book Magazine.

The second is an interview with Jack Gantos that sheds some light on how he came to write the Joey Pigza books: “An Interview with Jack Gantos” from Embracing the Child website.

jack gantos at simmons

Jack Gantos in 2013


(If you would like to read more by Robin Smith or about Jack Gantos, there’s is plenty on the Horn Book website. Just follow these links.)

Tell us what you think of these articles in the comments below.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Ben Johnson says:

    I found Robin Smith’s article to be especially powerful. As a child I loved books and would rush home after school to read the newest Goosebumps or Boxcar Children book. When I became a teacher, I hoped to share that passion with my students. However, where I was teaching, I found that books were only used as tools to teach children how to identify the main idea of a paragraph, classify the genre, and locate symbolism. This might have taught my students to be good test takers, but it definitely didn’t inspire them to become hungry readers. It frightens me to think that in my years in those schools I inspired more dislike for books than I did love. Reading Robin Smith’s words about the importance of just teaching children to love books reminded me that above all else, great teaching is about lighting a fire, not about teaching a set of skills. I’m excited to get back in the classroom next year and use these great books to light a love of reading in my students!

  2. Sara Gordon says:

    I found both of these articles interesting in their own ways, as the authors offered their opinions on imparting the love and appreciation of reading to children, but from different positions and perspectives . I enjoyed reading Robin Smith’s piece because of the focus on how to guide young students in developing their reading skills, often without even knowing it, so that they become eager to grow as readers. In addition, I appreciated the interview with Jack Gantos. One thing I found particularly remarkable within the interview was the comment in which he acknowledged that he did not feel he was in a position to criticize nor endorse the use of medication for children with ADD/ADHD, and stated that should be left to medical professionals. Although in his books, Joey is an “ADD/ADHD” kid, Gantos uses this not as a method of offering medical or scientific knowledge, nor does he pretend to have that knowledge. Instead, he uses the disorder as a way of demonstrating to children (and adults) the importance of empathy in their interactions with people who are “different;” he emphasizes that these kids are not as different as they seem — like any kid, Joey “wants all of the same things the next kid wants… especially acceptance” (p. 1).

  3. Annie Thomas says:

    I really enjoyed Smith’s piece because I, like Ben, can very much relate to rushing home after school to read the next American Girl book or book in the Nancy Drew series. I thought the way that she truly envisioned her job as inspiring children to love reading was fantastic and I remember the teachers that I had who did that for me!

    I also did not know that Jack Gantos had this type of background, and I think the fact that he wrote a book for children who have ADD/ADHD was very needed for the children’s lit world. The compassion and the ability to see another child’s experience, without having experienced that personally, is really interesting and I think he gives a true picture for children who might go through these issues.

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