Sunday, November 25, 2007


Years ago at a workshop for teachers I learned about book blessings. Book blessings are special book reviews for books you love. The presenter gave a us a demonstration. He blessed a book I love, too, Ira Sleeps Over, by Bernard Waber.

Book blessings are a good idea.

As much as I love books, I don’t teach books. I teach children. Since that day, I’ve tried to bless my students each one, every day.

Soon after the reading conference I found myself riding my bicycle around the playground with a girl who had just learned to ride on two wheels. Her enjoyment of the exercise, fresh air, and sunshine reminded me of my intention to bless my students.

Here's Belle enjoying choice time on a bicycle in 2007.
This story is about a girl who's now in eighth grade.

“I feel great,” I told her, “to be riding here with you. I'm a lucky guy.” A clumsy blessing, true, but better than none.

Her reply surprised me. “Mr. Gurney, when I started kindergarten, I wanted a lady teacher, not you. I didn’t think you’d be nice.”

I was stunned. Still, I managed to ask her, “You didn’t? What did you think I would be like?”

“More meaner. Well, maybe you’d only be a little nice."


"But really, you’re A LOT nice.”

I let her words sink in. I repeated what she had said to remember her words exactly as she had said them. "You're a lot nice, you're a lot nice, you're a lot nice."

And then it occurred to me that I had just been blessed. I said, “Well, thank you. I am glad you think I’m nice. You’re very nice to say that.”

With that, she blessed me once again, skillfully, with words that I’ll cherish forever.

“Mr. Gurney, you make my heart grow.”

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