Margin Notes



In her new book Leading Literate Lives: Habits and Mindsets for Reimagining Classroom Practice, Stephanie Affinito shares a variety of ways for teachers to cultivate their personal literacy lives and in doing so be the model our students need to cultivate their own literacy identities.  Affinito provides multiple ways to build both our reading and writing habits and communities, but more than this, and what I love most, is she connects what we can do for ourselves with how we can make it real for our students.

One of my favorite ideas is entitled, Live Curiously Through Books, found on page 53.  When reading a book have you ever found yourself curious about the setting? Or if historical fiction, the events leading up to the specific time in the text.  What about the characters?  Do you want to know more about their backstory? Stephanie shares the following examples of how to live curiously through books:

  • Find the setting of the book you are reading on Google Maps. Explore the area to get a firsthand idea of what the setting might actually look like—and add the location to your bucket list of places to visit.
  • Search for images to help you visualize objects and items from the book. My favorite find? Seeing the same brilliant blue from the lapis lazuli stone that Beverly Tipinksky saw on the cover of a book in Beverly, Right Now by Kate DiCamillo.
  • Look up vocabulary in a digital dictionary to broaden your language and vocabulary. Did you know that sunder means “to break apart or separate”? I do now.
  • Explore new concepts and ideas. Watch videos, read online articles, and learn from supplemental resources. YouTube, Great Big Story, and The Kid Should See this are great places to start.

As Affinito shares, “Living your way through books curiously invites you to experience them firsthand, actively learning about the world without ever leaving your home. So, grab a device and give it a try the next time you read a book-and see where it takes you. Then, share the experience with your students.”

(Affinito, Stephanie. Leading Literate Lives. P. 53 Heinemann, 2021)

So how can we make this real for our students? Stephanie suggests creating bookmarks using a QR code generator to provide deeper connections for students.

A twist on this could be having the students create bookmarks for their favorite books and then share with peers after you provide a model for your students.  What a great strategy to promote curiosity and book buzz in your classroom!

To learn more about Stephanie Affinito’s book, Leading Literate Lives check out this postcast at


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