Nerdy in So Many Ways

Fourteen years ago, as a brand new teacher, the first book I read aloud to my fourth grade class was Charlotte’s Web. For the next ten years I read many of my all time favorites along with new discoveries to my fourth and fifth graders. When I moved to first grade my read aloud choices had to change, but I still read long loved tales as well as hot new titles.

Recently I’ve come to regard read alouds in a new light as I have two little nerdy book club members at home. We’ve read to them since the day they were born (back then we usually just read out loud whatever we were reading ourselves so our oldest heard a lot my book club books and my husband’s academic tomes). As they have grown we’ve moved onto tackling books that take weeks to finish rather than multiple titles in one evening.

Last summer we began the Harry Potter series. For more than six months we shared our love of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and the Burrow with our girls. My husband and I had read these as they came out over the years, often rereading the previous ones before the arrival of each new epic. In spite of having read some of the books in this series at least five times, reading them out loud to our daughters was phenomenal. Sharing characters and stories we had adored for so long was a special bonding experience.

Now we’ve moved on to reading The Mysterious Benedict Society series. This was a recommendation on twitter when I requested new titles and series for our family reading. Several folks strongly recommended it so we decided to give it a go. Getting to know the characters and being surprised by the twists right along with our daughters is also wonderful. We’re experiencing it all together, night after night.

Our oldest daughter is eight and a complete Nerdy Book Club member. She has now read the Harry Potter books more than either of her parents as she reread them again and again as we moved on through the series. She has devoured numerous other books and series in the last year or two. A recent favorite, upon my recommendation, was The Sisters Grimm. I had read the first title when it came out (and I was still teaching fifth grade and trying to keep up with new books). Now I’m trying to read the rest of the series as well. She finished it weeks ago but is pretty patient with my slower progress. It is such a delight to talk with her about books, reader to reader. Reading alongside her will be a favorite memory.

Sharing books with others is always special. I have known that for years. I did not realize, however, how much I would enjoy and how different each experience would be as I shared old favorites and new discoveries. Introducing books I’ve loved for years is special in a cozy, almost conspiratorial way. Discovering new stories together is special in an unwrapping a present sort of way. Reading side by side, as peers in the process, is simply thrilling for me. I’m thankful for all the Nerdy Book Club members in my life who allow me to share books with them and who share back.

Jenny Orr teaches first graders at a Title I school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Her nerdy book clubness is not only shared with her students but her two young daughters as well. She is a national board certified teacher and a teacher consultant with the National and Northern Virginia Writing Projects. She and her students blog about their learning at and she writes without them at