Are You a Good Salesman?

Rose Birkhead is a Reading specialist who has worked at both the elementary and secondary level. As a passionate teacher, Rose is always striving for new ways to motivate and engage her seventh and eighth grade students. When not teaching, Rose enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, ages five and six, visiting with friends, golfing and reading. Additionally, I am proud to say that Rose is my daughter. 

Although I’ve never worked in sales, as a middle-school Reading specialist, selling is a big part of my job. Day after day, I struggle to sell students on the importance of reading, to sell the latest project so that it will be met with enthusiasm not groans, to sell the value of participation, study, effort. Mostly, however, I sell books. Much like a sales clerk, I assess my customers (the students) and do my best to suggest books they will joyfully embrace so that they are willing to come back for more. Here’s a snippet from a recent conversation with a student to demonstrate what I mean…

When Susan asked me for a book recommendation, I quickly glanced at my shelves and pulled several books.

“Have you read Divergent? What about Legend? Did you ever read The Face on the Milk Carton? Oh, how about Tears of a Tiger? The Bully? Do you want a graphic novel? I have Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts…”

I proceeded to pile about eight books together so that Susan would have plenty to peruse during our independent reading time. At the end of class, I noticed Susan had settled on Divergent. I approached Susan and asked what she thought.

“Honestly, Mrs. Birkhead, I really wasn’t into it. I thought I’d really like it because the movie was cool, but I just couldn’t get into it.”

I smiled knowingly at her and said, “Susan, do you like shopping? Do you ever go in a store and find a slew of clothes to try on?

An instant grin appeared on Susan’s face. “I love to shop!”

“I do, too. But sometimes I feel disappointed, especially after I try on a ton of clothes and discover none of them is what I’m looking for.”

“I know what you mean. It can feel like a big waste of time.”

“Exactly. Sometimes, Susan, the same thing happens with books. Initially, we may be excited and intrigued by a book, but after reading a bit, we realize it’s just not for us. That’s what happened to you today. It’s important to understand that there are a million books out there and many of them will be winners for you. I have two options for you today. You can give Divergent a better chance by reading another twenty pages, or simply abandon it and continue to shop for a book you love, just like you would if you were buying clothes. The important thing is not to give up.”

Like teachers, parents are also salesman in the lives of their children. In the realm of reading, a parent often needs to sell kids on the value of reading and take them shopping for those magic books that will reel them in and transform them into life-long readers.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION:  The Rule of Three by Eric Walter                                                                                                                                 (Recommended for Grades 5 and up)

Imagine – it is 2:45 at school. You are in the computer lab with your best friend, working on an assignment, when POOF! thepower goes off in the entire school. Everyone gathers in the school gym, and the principal dismisses you. When you walk out to the parking lot, you notice no one is leaving. You head over to your 1979 car, and it starts right up. Then, it dawns on you – your classmates’ cars won’t start because they rely on technology. As you travel home, you realize the  power is off everywhere. That’s right, no electricity and no Internet! That’s exactly what happens to Adam in this intriguing novel.

Adam, the main character, a high school student, is responsible for taking care of his younger siblings while his mom leads the community as the chief of police. His dad, who is a pilot, is in Chicago. Even if his dad can’t make it home, at least he has taught Adam some skills that may just come in handy as the community begins to unravel and neighborhood fights break out. Youngsters will love this suspenseful novel as they read to discover if the community can survive weeks without electricity and the technology that has become commonplace.



About Rita K.

Educator and Certified Reading specialist
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