Phillip Done's Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind is one of the books being given away in the Hatchette Book Group Back to School contest that I'm running. It's worth entering the contest just for the chance to win this book. If you're an elementary school teacher, or know one, buy this book. Done tells the story of one school year in his life as a third grade teacher. It's a superb follow-up to 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching.
Done's book is subtitled "Thoughts on Teacherhood." Like the previous book, it's laid out in the form of a school year. In August, he talks about buying school supplies, and gives suggestions to new teachers for preparing their classroom. The following June, he relates lessons he's learned from his students. In the months in-between, he tells stories of reading to his students, celebrating holidays, and playground duty. There are a couple stories that will bring you to tears, but the laugh aloud moments fill this book. Wait until you read about the second grade teacher whose students set leprechaun traps! And, time after time, Done proves that Art Linkletter was right. "Kids Say the Darndest Things."
Done has spent twenty-five years in the classroom, and, even after all those years, he still loves the kids, and enjoys them. That love comes across in all of the sparkling moments in this book. He tells of his own childhood, admitting he was no different than the kids he teaches. Kids are still the same. His stories encourage the reader to look back at your own school years. When he told about the Tooth Fairy, I remembered staying over at my older cousin's where we planned to stay up and see the Tooth Fairy. I was only in kindergarten. She fell asleep, but I stayed up, and in the morning, told her that her mother was the Tooth Fairy. My aunt was so mad at me. Those Tooth Fairy stories made me laugh, as so many of the other stories did.
Win this book, or buy it. But, share it with elementary school teachers. They'll thank you for it. Phillip Done captures all of the heart and warmth of teaching. And, if you never had a teacher as interesting as Mr. Done, you'll be jealous of his students. Those are lucky kids that have gone through Phillip Done's classrooms over the years. They're the ones that brought him to Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind.
Oh, and Mr. Done? I used to feed Pringles to a wild rabbit. ;)
Phillip Done's website is www.phillipdone.org
Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind by Phillip Done. Center Street, ©2009. ISBN 9781599951485 (hardcover), 336p.