I’ve been getting a lot of mail from teachers who are using Bystander in their classrooms. From early on, that was my hope for this book — a talking book, a valuable conversation starter in the hands of a good teacher and a lively classroom. I’m happy to see that it’s been embraced in the 5th grade, as well some 4th-grade classrooms. Overall, most readers seem to be in grades 6-8.
Here’s a sampling of emails from teachers I’ve received over the past few weeks. As always, some personal info has been deleted to protect the innocent . . .
I’m a 4th grade teacher in Iowa. Today I started reading Bystander aloud to the class. I think this is my 3rd year in a row reading the book and I LOVE IT!!! As the kids were listening their mouths were ajar. (I love that!)
Thanks for sharing your awesome talent –- with such an important message.
And from Hawaii . . .
Dear Mr Preller,
My name is ____ ______ and I am a 5th grade teacher on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. I am currently reading the book with my students and I have some students who would like to write you some “fan-mail” and replies to reading your book. On your web site you do not have an address in which we could mail you. Could you possibly email me your address?
Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!
Love the book! My students cannot put it down!
I replied: James Preller, 12 Brookside Drive, Delmar, NY 12054.
I also might have added something about being available for school visits. Aloha, baby.
Hi James! I teach fifth grade and we read Bystander as a class. They LOVED LOVED LOVED it. You are a rock star. One of my students took the initiative to write you a letter but I cannot find the address to send it. He even included a self-addressed stamped envelope in the hopes of hearing from you. Can you please send me the address? I would really appreciate it.
And lastly, from the Windy City . . .
I would like to inquire about having you come to visit our middle school in late August or early September of 2012 (the beginning of the next school year).
We have adopted your novel, Bystander, as an all-school summer reading novel for all students in our building, grades 6-8 (about 900 students). Our School Climate Committee has been meeting this year to develop a more effective anti-bullying initiative in our school, and your novel is a perfect match for this project.
Please let me know your availability and fees. We are located in _______, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. Here is a link to our school’s web page linked to our district’s site if you would like to get a sense of our community.
I replied, in part . . .
This sounds wonderful, though there are some obstacles in our path.
I live outside of Albany, NY, so there is travel to consider. Generally speaking, I prefer to have a minimum of three full days of work for any trip. Four is better. The best arrangements come when schools in a district coordinate their efforts — and share the expense of plane tickets — and I’m invited somewhere for 4-5 school days. Is that enough to get you started?
Lastly, thank you. I’m very glad to hear about your efforts, and glad that my book might help in the process for cultivating a safe, happy community of learners.