The Magic of Books

Rachel Perugini Books, Literacy, Love

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Scene: My sister sent me a video of my niece this week. 15 months old, she is sitting as her mom reads one of her favorite books to her, and she parrots the words “a baby” on cue after her mom reads each page. The flaps that hide those hidden words and pictures get thrown up on cue as my niece knows, she only gets to say those words when the baby comes out of hiding. I watched this video over and over and laughed when my sister told me she has to bribe her daughter with books to get her to play with something else for a while. Clearly a girl after my own heart.

Scene: I sit on my floor and unwrap a package I ordered; it’s my favorite childhood book for a friend’s upcoming baby shower. My boyfriend looks confused at the giddiness in my voice as I excitedly ask him if he’s read this book before when he was a kid. I open the pages and start reading out loud. The rhymes come back to me, and I count the ten monsters causing chaos in the house. My boyfriend leaves halfway through my rendition, an exaggerated sigh at my craziness, and I sit on the floor reading to myself until I turn that last page and close the book.

Scene: A colleague hates my favorite book in our English 11 curriculum: The Crucible. It’s a running joke that whenever we talk about the worst book ever, he brings it up. I love it: the language, the drama, the twists. I was talking to him the other day and glowing over how much my students have been into the play this year. They’re excited on days we get to read and have been itching to finish the last act. My colleague looked at me and asked, “You know why they like it so much, right? Because you love it.”

As I looked through my bookshelf while writing this, I found myself drawn to books I haven’t read in years. A signed copy of the book my 6th grade English teacher read to us reminds me how much I used to love read-alouds as a kid. The classic that took rereading three times to fully understand and appreciate it reminds me of the challenge of reading something difficult and the reward of finally putting the pieces together. The collection of serial killer books stare me down and remind me what I like to read when I finally have time to myself.

And then there is the pile of books stacked up neatly by my bedside table; books purchased in stores after a cover caught my eye, books gifted by friends and borrowed from colleagues. These stories are waiting to be read when school slows down and my brain has room for adventure and mystery. Luckily for me, books are patient and don’t mind collecting dust.

Books are the reason I became an English teacher. They’re magical, full of compelling characters, thrilling adventures, and shocking endings. I hope to share some of that magic with my students, and I hope you have books that are magical in your classroom.


I am originally from Pennsylvania where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Shippensburg University. In 2012, I moved to Arizona to teach on the Navajo Reservation; I liked the state so much I decided to stay. I taught language arts, reading, and journalism for three years at Many Farms High School. During that time, I earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading. In 2015, I moved to Flagstaff where I currently teach 10th and 11th grade English. I have been an avid reader all my life, so I love that my job gives me that chance to read amazing books with my students all day long.

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