Outdoor education -
with 7th graders -
for three days and two nights...
Tired just thinking about it? Me too! I used to be able to go the entire week, with both teams. That went on for eight years. I'm now in my fifth year of going just half of the week with my team. Although I may be used to sleeping without my family, many of these girls are not, and some are uncomfortable when it's time to go to sleep. The boys are in other dorms (oh, thank goodness!), and I'll bet some of them don't feel like going to sleep, either.
As I yawn writing this post, I need to get to WHY I'm writing. I want to share my favorite bedtime read alouds for seventh grade girls! A good friend / coworker told me about this idea two years ago, and I've now got my favorites to read. If you bring three books into a dorm room of eight to nine girls, they'll bug you until you read all three. This way, you can pretend to give in, while actually savoring reading each book.
Here are my three favorites, in order of how I would read them.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Just the cover illustration is enough to pull you into this book. Those pleading eyes from both the llama and his stuffed bunny! The problem with reading to seventh grade girls in a dorm room is that I need it dark, so they lay there and don't have to crowd around to see the pics. This book has large pictures in it, however, so even if they're hanging over their bunks, they can see it. If not, heck, just start with them all around you. They can get in bed for the next one! The point of this story is that llama gets tucked in, but then wants water. His mother gets busy and doesn't get around to bringing it until he's all in a tizzy! A line near the end is what I love best - "Mama Llama's always near, even if she's not right here." Some of our students need to be reminded of this, as it's their first trip away from home.
Who Will Tuck Me in Tonight? by Carol Roth, Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
This has another animal character, and it's Woolly, the little lamb. The sun is setting, Woolly is getting sleepy, but his mom is not home yet. When he asks, "Who will tuck me in tonight," various barn animals respond, but they just don't have his mother's touch. The pictures make me crack up, but the girls don't really need to see them in order to understand the story. Finally, his mother comes home and does everything just right. By now, the seventh graders should be ready to be in their bunks under the covers, as they think I'm leaving... but I can stay for "just one more."
It's Time to Sleep, My Love from Nancy Tillman (originally written by Eric Metaxas)
Although the illustrations are very rich, detailed, and vivid, I use this one so sing a lullaby. In the post I read about 40 bedtime stories (see below), she said she likes to sing this one to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Perfect. This also has the message at the end that "you are loved." Our kids need to know this.
I found these books from this blog post, and have finally been able to read them all and choose just three. Thank you, Allison McDonald!
Okay, okay, there IS one more that I love on that list that seems perfect for 7th grade girls...
Looking for Sleepy by Maribeth Boelts, Illustrated by Bernadette Pons
I might switch this one out for.... no. I don't think I can replace the other three. If it's a particularly feisty room of girls, I'll read this one first! ;)
My favorite part of reading to the girls each night? Hearing "I love you, Mrs. Kirr," and being able to tell them I love them right back.