Thursday, August 24, 2017

Don't Save the Good China

As I was flipping through a stack of picture books and putting them on the yardsale bookcase in my new classroom, one book made me pause.  

It was this one.
I love this book by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet. The story and illustrations are amazing and Red's perilous writing journey offers a unique look into writing with so many uses in the classroom
But that is not what made me stop. As I looked at the pristine cover, wrapped in a protective library sleeve, I paused because I realized that I never read this book to my 4th graders. Why? Because I was saving it. Yes, saving it for just the "right" time. Certainly a book such as this deserved to be read during a very special lesson or activity. 

Maybe I should have used it to launch our writing workshop?
Perhaps as a mentor text for story development?
Or as an author/illustrator study of Melissa Sweet who lives in my state?
Share it just because it is wonderful? 

As it turned out, by waiting for just the "right" time, I never got around to actually sharing it with my students. 

Earlier this summer I was at a writing retreat and we were invited to participate in an activity where we wrote inspirational words or phrases on pennies (from Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal). 
One of the phrases I wrote was, Don't save the good china for company. I am not exactly sure what made me think of this phrase, but I was referring to the tendency to save the nicest things for the right time or for "special" people or occasions and not for regular everyday life.

Holding Little Red Writing in my hands I was disappointed. I am not teaching 4th grade next year and perhaps I was a bit emotional about this, but it made me think about what else I avoided doing because I was waiting for just the right time? 
A fun activity? 
A meaningful project? 
A terrific read aloud? 
A special visitor?
It is too late to go back. I don't get a do-over. 

As I begin my 25th year as a teacher today, I am looking forward to a year of changes and challenges in my new position providing RTI interventions for K-2 students. I can only hope to end the year without regretting something I didn't do. 

I invite you to reflect, dear friends. What is your "good china"? What have you been wanting to do, but just haven't? 
Hosting a mock Newbery club?
Digital writing?
An art-inspired project?
An exciting math activity?
Book buddies?

Whatever it is, make this the year that you don't save the good china for company. 


  1. I LOVE this! Extremely excited for your new adventure... here's to a year of using all the good china! ;)

  2. Wow, Gigi! Awesome post! I definitely needed this reminder. Life is too short to not spread joy doing the meaningful things. Thanks for this. Have a great year!

  3. I love this post. It's a good reminder for me. Life goes by too quickly.

  4. Great post, Gigi! You've got me thinking. Wishing you all the best in your next educational adventure!

  5. I'm going to think about this...and I'm going to break out the good China!

  6. Great post! You can always visit us in 4th grade and read to us.

  7. Your quote made me think of poetry. We save poetry for April, after testing, when there's time to be creative and carefree. But I believe poetry is for every day. Creativity is every day. Thanks for this push to remember this.