One of my students cried during silent reading. I wrote him this letter.

Saturday, May 10, 2014



For our fiction unit we did a few months ago, I had my students preview eight fiction books and then choose one to read and discuss in small literature circles.  One of the books was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 

If you haven’t read it, The Book Thief is a really beautiful story centered around a girl growing up in Nazi Germany.  It’s written in this really unique, lyrical style with Death personified as the narrator, and is equally gripping, heartwarming, funny, and dark.

The ending is crushing, though. 

On one of the last days of our fiction unit, I was sitting with The Outsiders group and heard quiet gasping behind me.  I turned around, thinking that someone in another group was laughing.  I saw a student I'll call Fernando, one of my students in The Book Thief group, with his hand to his mouth making little sniffling noises.  Fernando’s group mates looked at me with concerned expressions.

In case you don’t remember being a middle school male (or if you never were one), crying in front of your peers is kind of a big deal. I mean, it’s a big deal for girls too, I know, but I think the stigma is particularly bad for guys. It’s made worse at a school like ours, where the vast majority of our students have been raised in a machismo-type culture that sets some pretty rigid expectations for men.  On top of this, it’s not like Fernando was crying about losing a sports game or getting in a fight or something.  He was crying about a book. 

Although everything in me just wanted to scoop him up and cry along with Fernando (and also adopt him), my top priority was to address what was going on without drawing more attention to him than necessary.  I wrote him a pass to go to the bathroom as long as he needed and set it on his desk quietly.  He got up and left.  A few kids noticed him leaving and looked at me. I motioned for them to go back to their reading and they did, because I have created a classroom environment I call Love One Another Or I’ll Destroy You in which my students know I will take a blowtorch to them if they so much as snicker at something like that.

After fifteen minutes or so, Fernando returned while the rest of the class was at lunch.  His eyes were still red and puffy.

“Hey, Fernando,” I said quietly.

“Hey,” he said.

“Was it the ending?” I asked stupidly. "You okay?"

“Yeah,” he said, "It was just so sad." He instantly started to cry again. I do that, too, when I’ve been crying and anyone asks if I’m okay. I walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.  I didn’t really know what to say, so I just stood there.

He insisted he was fine, blew his nose a few more times and went to join his classmates at lunch.

As soon as he left, almost the moment he had shut the door, I began typing a letter to him that I wrote out by hand later during a break. That afternoon, I had the front office send a note to him during class asking him to drop by my room after school, and when he came by, I had the letter in an envelope for him.

“Here,” I said, handing it to him. “Don’t read it until you’re home, okay?” 

“Okay,” he said.

I don’t know if Fernando read the letter or not. His family ended up moving a few weeks later, and he never mentioned the letter (though I didn’t expect him to). I imagine that, if he did read it, it was the type of thing where he read it once, threw it in the back of his closet, and won’t see again until he digs through his stuff when packing for his freshman year of college, and even then he might only say, “Oh, Ms. Teach! She was so weird. I remember the day she had a cracker in her hair.” 

But I’m glad I wrote that letter.

So often I forget to acknowledge the things and people that amaze me.  I’m talking real, meaningful acknowledgment, something that shows I have sat with my feelings for longer than it takes to type out a text or upload a grateful Instagram.  I didn’t even think about it when I typed out my letter to Fernando, but it makes sense that that was my instinctual response.  I express myself best through writing, so writing to Fernando was the best way I knew to let him know that I noticed him and was proud of him.

I would like to challenge myself and you to notice and acknowledge the people around us more.  Maybe you acknowledge differently than I do—by creating little gifts or having face-to-face conversations.  Some people acknowledge by baking or doing really kind favors for people. Maybe you acknowledge people by buying them gin and tonics, in which case I hope you acknowledge me very soon.

This was my letter to Fernando.  I came across it yesterday while cleaning out files on my computer, which is also what prompted me to write this post.  I didn’t delete the letter because it’s also going to be my letter to the next guy (or girl) who is moved to tears by literature during my class.


Dear Fernando,

I just wanted to let you know how moved I was by your response to the end of The Book Thief. It really shows me that the lessons the book teaches us—and really, the lessons that The Holocaust teaches us—have affected you deeply.

I cried while reading The Book Thief, too.  Even though it is a fictional story, there are so many people whose lives were like Liesel’s.  And Max’s. And a lot of the other characters, too.

Learning to be a good reader is way, way more important than your grade in this class or even your score on [our state’s standardized test].  It’s about reading a text so closely that it grabs you by the collar and shakes you. It’s about being so entrenched in the lives of characters that you find your heart pounding, or you laugh out loud, or you cry.  It’s about grieving characters when they die because they have become a part of us.

I hope you know that it is always okay to cry. I also hope you are proud of the scholar and the young man you are becoming, because I am. Very much so.

Love,

Ms. Teach

Go forth and acknowledge your Fernandos.

Love,


Teach

P.S. What was the first book that made you cry?

196 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Agreed. When Beth died in Little Women I set the book down and sobbed for 10 minutes straight. I think I was 11 years old.

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    2. Beth dies in Good Wives. She recovers from her illness in Little Women. Just for the record.

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    3. Actually, you are both correct. The story was originally published as two books, Little Women and Good Wives, but in 1880 was released as a single volume....Little Women. :-) I, too, sobbed when I read it and I think it was my first time to cry over a book.

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    4. Same! I was probably in 7th grade..? My mother kept calling me down for dinner and I kept saying, Coming!, but I was late and when I got down there she was angry and I was sobbing and she thought I was nuts because she thought I was crying because I was in trouble and I had to tell her through my sobs that it was because Beth had just died.

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    5. Where The Red Fern Grows

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    6. I read The Velveteen Rabbit when I was 5 and cried so much. My mom just held me in her arms and told me to think of all the little rabbits near our farm house and how happy they must be to be out in the trees. The other book that had me crying like a baby was Where the Red Fern Grows. Again, my mother was there as I was finishing the book. I was 12 years old and she again was holding me in her arms and just letting me know it was okay. She understood. She loved reading as much as I do.

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    7. Charlotte's Web.

      Many years later, I was a volunteer reader in my daughter's class. Another mom and I were taking turns reading aloud from Charlotte's Web and we both were afraid of reading the chapter when Charlotte dies! Then we realized that it was good for the kids to see how fiction can grab us and make us feel so many emotions.
      My 8th graders read The Book Thief this year and we shared the parts that made us cry. Priceless.

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    8. Charlotte's Web

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    9. I read Little Women about 8 times and I cried every single time.
      I taught lower level students for 10 years, and every time George killed Lennie in Of Mice and Men we all wound up crying, a VERY big deal for boys in grade 12.

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    10. Old Yeller. I was in the 3rd grade and was deep into chapter books. I remember how shocked I was that Travis was going to kill his beloved dog, and how I cried.

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    11. Also Where the Red Fern Grows. I had to be around 10, also in silent reading in school.

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    12. I was looking at every book that was listed by commentators and I was strongly moved to tears by of those books as well. But, one book Where the Red Fern, probably affects me the most. It was the first book ever read to me in the 3rd grade, I've probably read it at least 12 times and well am able to retell. However, one time I was reading it to my tough 5th graders and I was getting to the point in the story where Dan and Ann are dying and one of my students responded to my emotions " with don't cry" So even as adult whose read and even retold the story there's just something about the pull of this story.

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    13. The Lottery Rose. My 6th grade teacher read it to us.

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    14. Old Yeller for sure.

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    15. Old Yeller and then Where the Red Fern Grows. Our teacher was reading them yo us. After the second book O told my Mom I didn't want to go back to school because it was too sad. :) M said something clever and heartwarming and so I returned. I was around 7 or 8 years old. :)

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    16. I believe it was Old Yeller, our teacher read it to us..

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    17. Where the Red Fern Grows.....gets me every time.

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    18. Family Apart

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    19. The first book I cried over was Bridge to Terabithia. I wasn't expecting Leslie to die. I was 10 years old as well.

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  2. Awesome. I need to remember to do this more often. It can make all the difference in our students' lives.

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  3. When the Legends Die by Hal Borland

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  4. I can't remember the first book that made me cry; I've read so many. However, the two most recent books that made me cry were The Book Thief and The Fault in Our Stars. Thank you for the reminder to notice and acknowledge the people in our lives. It's too easy to get caught up and life and forget what really matters. The letter you wrote to your student is beautiful!

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    1. I just finished THE FAULT IN OUR STARS this past weekend....still crying!!!!!

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  5. The Art of Racing in the Rain.

    At the end when the dog dies…I sobbed and hugged my dog for a good fifteen minutes.

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    1. I forgot about that book. I agree with you 100%. Not enough people know about that book!

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    2. Oh yes, that one made me sob.

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    3. That book made me sob as well. Read it for a book club and it remains one of my all-time favorite books.

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    4. I'm generally not a cryer, but this book had me sobbing while forcing my cats to snuggle with me...despite their objections.

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    5. I started sobbing at this one in the first chapter!

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  6. Replies
    1. Where the Red Fern Grows, absolutely. And another one called Nop's Trials. Animal stories ALWAYS get me right in the feel-bone.

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    2. Where the Red Fern Grows, the second to last chapter, makes me cry every time I read it. The last time, I was reading it aloud to my family on our trip to Texas. My son ended up having to read that chapter, as he was the only one among my husband, sister-in-law and daughter not bawling his eyes out to the point of not being able to speak coherently.

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    3. My teacher read this to our class in 4th grade and I remember litterally having a puddle of tears on my desk. My teacher came over and laid a hand on my shoulder asking if I was okay too.

      Once (I don't remember the book) I cried reading something on the bus home from school. Earned me the name "emotionally attached to books lady" which is true. I get attached. Still cry every time in Harry Potter though I know what happens.

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    4. Back in 6th grade, my daughter spent a string of days looking sad and crying at little things. When I sat down with her to find out what was wrong, she burst out, 'Oh Mom! The dog died!' I realized then the power of literature in the classroom!

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    5. Just thinking about Where the Red Fern Grows makes me want to cry again. That was my first and still possibly the hardest.

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    6. Our teacher read it in class and we all cried....

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    7. Shannon RobinsonMay 16, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      I have read this with my class of 7th graders and we are all crying at the end.

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    8. Our teacher read it in class, as well. It was the first book that tore my little heart to pieces, even though I'd read nearly every book in the library...I remember the *boys* were crying as much as the girls.

      I don't think I can read it again...too sad!

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    9. That book did it for me, too. I remember we were reading Where the Red Fern Grows as a class, and I distinctly hated the fact that the teacher (and especially the students) read so slowly. (It was a Read Out Loud kind of thing.) I had mastered the art of reading ahead while keeping a slip of paper on the page the class was reading, but that doesn't really help when you burst into tears in the middle of class days ahead of schedule. My teacher just walked by, gave me a box of tissues, and told me to sit in the hall until class was over. She was a good woman.

      I often go back to books I read through school just to see what they're like now that I've been around a quarter century. That book, though, I'll admit to being too afraid to re-read.

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    10. Where the Red Fern Grows was everything for me. I didn't know books could do that. I can still remember as a 4th grader being so shocked at my own reaction. I'm happy to say that there have been many, many books that have stirred me in the years since.

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  7. I remember doing the exact same thing...sobbing in class as we finished Where the Red Fern Grows. Heart broken. I love stories that move us like this, but I wish I had had a teacher who wrote me a letter. Well done!

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  8. I love this post and I love your letter to Fernando!
    I can't remember the first book that made me cry, but Esperanza Rising always does when I read it to kids! I'm sure there's more, but that one is just on the top of my head!
    and...Your writing is amazeballs: "because I have created a classroom environment I call Love One Another Or I’ll Destroy You in which my students know I will take a blowtorch to them if they so much as snicker at something like that."
    You're awesome, Ms. Teach!

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    Replies
    1. My daughter just read that in fifth grade... and yes... we cried.

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    2. Oh and she is reading Wonder.... I cry... just imagining the way he describes himself.

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    3. Oh, I sobbed during Wonder too.

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  9. Replies
    1. My Mom gave me that book when I was about 10 because she read it and loved it at that age! I read several times and passed it on to my one niece who loved to read. Not sure she felt the same impact. Not many people know that book these days.

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  10. Where the Red Fern Grows made me sob for hours and fall deeper in love with reading. I now offer it on audio for my struggling readers. My thirteen year old boy-students crying for that book is so touching.

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  11. Bridge to Terabithia. Oh man. I was reading it illegally, hiding it behind my science textbook during science class in 5th grade...and then the tears started FLOWING (and then the ugly cry), and I'm guessing my teacher knew that this wasn't a response to thinking about electrons. Ugh.

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    1. I remember my teacher choking back tears as she read that aloud to us. Bridge to Terabithia will be the one book I never teach because I would be such a mess.

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    2. I was an Elementary Ed major and had to read Bridge to Terabithia for my Children's Lit. course..... It was more of an uncontrollable, gut wrenching sobbing..... Nothing since has affected me in such a way. LOVE that book!

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    3. My 1st grade son asked for that book for Christmas. He LOVES to read. I know that I couldn't get through it without crying.

      Right now, we trade off reading pages. I just want to make sure he is actually reading and comprehending it. He loves history too. So right now, we are reading about Abe Lincoln.

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    4. Bridge to Terabithia gets me every time; but, I love this story. When my students read his book, I would pair it with Everett Anderson's Goodbye, discuss the stages of the grieving process, and then plot Jesse's different reactions to where he was in that process. Many life lessons in that book.

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    5. I used to read it with my year 7 pupils and always ended up in tears...I had to make one of my boys read the part I couldn't.



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    6. A Taste of Blackberries is older, but just as gut wrenching. I only read it to a class once. Once was enough.

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    7. "The Incredible Journey" - no matter how often old Bodger comes running as fast as he can out of that woods, I lose it completely.

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    8. I have read a lot, but Bridge to Terabithia and Love you Forever are the only ones that have made me cry.

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    9. Love You Forever gets me every time!

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    10. Love You Forever, Bridge to Terabithia, To Kill A Mockingbird, the Outsiders, and The Giver all made me Cry.

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    11. I'll like you for always as long as I am living... my baby you will be.... sniff

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    12. Bridge to Terabithia is the first one I remember that made me cry. As an adult, I can now get teary re-reading The Velveteen Rabbit. Other stories from childhood that affected me include Charlotte's Web, Where the Red Fern Grows and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

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  12. Walk Two Moons. I was also terrified of my mom dying after that.

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    1. I am a terminally ill mum, and am reading it with my 10 yr old daughter. sniff.

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    2. Jesus. That must be so hard. I'm so sorry.

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    3. Oh my gosh!! Heart breaking. I too am so so very sorry!!! {{hugs}}

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    4. My mom was terminally ill when I was a kid and it was painful and scary, but also made me appreciate every day we had together. Nobody loves you like your mama does. God bless.

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    5. I read Walk Two Moons right after it won the Newbery. I was on an airplane and just sat balling my eyes out as I read.

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  13. Goodnight Mister Tom. I well up just thinking about it even now!

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    1. My all time favorite book.

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    2. My all time favorite book.

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    3. I was wondering if anyone would mention that book. Read the Red Fern to my sixth graders and we all cried. We all read Goodnight Mister Tom and we all cried. It is such and excellent book and not many people know about it.

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  14. The Thorn Birds. I was so taken aback at the time because I didn't knw a book could do that to me. I was 19 or 20.

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  15. Beautiful and heartbreaking. You made me cry too.

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  16. When you start reading young it's hard to remember, but I can recommend Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss as a good novella that may bring a tear to the eye.

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  17. I think it was A Walk To Remember, and I remember distinctly reading it on a plane and trying to hide my tears from my family! But I have shed a tear over many a book since then.

    Kirsten | kirstenlearns.com

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    1. Adult me BAWLED for the entire last 30 pages of A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I also read on a plane. A crowded plane. As it landed. And my entire row was staring at me.

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    2. I forgot all about that but got goosebumps as soon as I read your comment. I had the same experience, I didn't want to finish it but had to keep reading, sobbing the entire time.

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  18. My 10 year old son will cry sometimes during books. I LOVE IT! I do too and it is one of my favorite parts of reading to my children. Understood Betsy was a beautiful one where we were both crying.

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  19. I remember being in third or fourth grade and reading 'Mick Hart was Here' and just sobbing in my bedroom because it was so sad. also really made me aware (for awhile) about wearing a bike helmet. excellent (and quick) read, if you want to shed some tears

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    1. After graduating college, I ended up substituting in a fourth grade class and reading a portion of the book, not knowing anything about it. I'd also had a young family member tragically pass away that year. Needless to say, I was a bit of a crying, hot mess in front of those fourth graders. They were very gracious though.

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  20. Spoiler alert:
    I was OK with Dumbledore in Harry Potter, but when Dobby died, I sobbed out loud.
    He was a good Elf.

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    1. Me too! I cried in the book, all three times I've read it. I downright embarrassed myself in the movie theater. Dobby. And Hedwig a little too.

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  21. Anne of Green Gables killed me

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    1. Anne's House of Dreams, when she lost her baby girl.

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  22. From a different age range: the last Knuffle Bunny book. And I never cry.

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  23. 5th grade, The Diary of Anne Frank...I remember sobbing during our silent reading time and getting a lot of funny looks. Luckily my teacher took a look at what I was reading and gave me that look of understanding!

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    1. Oh yes.... one of my favorites in third trough fifth grades

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  24. This is a beautiful essay. I've shared it out to my social media circles. (P.S. "I Know Where the Red Fern Grows" and "Old Yeller." )

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  25. Mick Harte was Here. The Man Who Loved Clowns. Cry, the Beloved Country. All books I sobbed in.

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  26. Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes. I'm a retired public school teacher of English and life. I miss my students, but I don't miss the interminable state tests. The Tings They Carried by Tim O'Brien brought me and several students to tears. The Diary of Anne Frank when I was a kid and more recently The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, absolutely one of the best books I've ever read --- I couldn't put it down, but dreaded reaching the end. Thank you for loving your students.

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  27. I have to hold back tears every May when I read the closing chapters of The Giver with my sixth grade classes. Having just had a son of my own, I don't know if I'll be successful at keeping from crying this year.

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  28. I read Black Beauty when I was 8 and cried and cried

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  29. To Kill a Mockingbird, every time when Scout says, "Hey, Boo." Simple and amazing, I can't help it but students see that literature brings out compassion.

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    1. The end of Mockingbird when Scout looks out around Maycomb from Boo's front porch.... I tear up now when recalling the catch in my voice when I would read it aloud with a class.

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    2. Best book ever to teach to a class of mid-teens.

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    3. The best book ever to teach to a class of mid-teens.

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    4. "He gently released my hand, opened the door, went inside, and shut the door behind him. I never saw him again. Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives." This part of the read-aloud in class would DO ME IN. I cried through the rest of the ending. Between that and the end of "Of Mice and Men" when George says, "I ain't never been mad, Lennie. That's the thing I want you to know." Oh...tears rolling in class every year. It has gotten worse the older I get!

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    5. Ok. Many books have made me cry. This comment brought back two of them, full force. Now I have to wipe my tears and go work with some wonderful families who I hope will love books.

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    6. I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite tear-jerkers. Beautiful, tragic WWII YA novel.

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    7. "Miss Jean Louse, stand up. Your father's passin'." I cry every single time. And also at "Hey, Boo."

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  30. I doubt this was the first book to make me cry, but the first book I remember touching me deeply because it was so beautiful and tragic was My Daniel. Also, Walk Two Moons. I still cry every time I read that book, even though I know how it ends.

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  31. I honestly don't remember the first. There have been so many. I remember reading The Chosen on Christmas Eve during my Jr. Year Abroad and weeping uncontrollably at the end. Having to stop and dry my tears enough to clear my vision to keep reading. I remember listening to the Bean Trees on an audiocassette back in the 90's driving home from an out-of-town deposition and having to pull off to the side of the road because I was crying too hard to keep driving. And when my 10-year-old daughter was in 4th grade we read Walk Two Moons together and we were both sobbing at the end, hugging, and saying "I love you." Then laughing together through our tears when her dad came in and was so worried to find us both crying.

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  32. OLD YELLER. I was on the school bus while in elementary school. I was crying so hard, I would have missed my stop if someone hadn't punched me (not hard enough to hurt, but hard enough to get my attention--I was REALLY engrossed in my book). And I continue to cry like a baby, laugh out loud, and simply thoroughly enjoy books, more than 35 years later....

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  33. First book to make me cry - Anne of Green Gables. Most recent books to make me cry - Code Name Verity, The Fault in our Stars and The Book Thief.

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  34. I was between 8 and 10 years old when I read The Secret Garden. I cried for at least a week!

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    1. Oh my yes.... The Secret Garden and The little Princess...

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  35. I cried and so did several students with "Where The Red Fern Grows" and then we watched the movie and NONE of us cried. One of the bright beyond her years 3rd graders said, "I think we didn't cry in the movie because we didn't get to know them as well as in the book". So true with books that become movies. I bawled in the movie Bridge to Terabithia, so I'm sure I'd be a wreck with the book.

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  36. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Several parts in that book made me cry.

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  37. what a lovely piece of writing you have produced!!!!! Will you let me share it with my Language students? I am an EFL teacher about to introduce letter and narrative writing, I might be killing two birds with one stone + the added value of probably stirring emotions as well....

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  38. BTW my first book was Black Beauty

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  39. Every Chris Crutcher book, but especially Deadline. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time in some spots. Crutcher is my favorite YA author.

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  40. I read them both at about the same time (not sure of the order) but both Old Yeller and Black Beauty made me cry for days. My mother tells me she was concerned at the time that I would have to see a shrink for how traumatized I was from them.

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  41. I can't remember the first book that made me cry when I was a child. But I'll tell you this...every year when I read "I Love You Forever" to my first graders...I was a teary-eyed, trembly-voiced, sniffling mess by the last page. No matter how many times I swore I'd keep it together, and I made myself think of bad drivers and other things to make me a bit angry (to counteract the poignancy)...I cried. Every. Year.

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  42. I saw this shared by the ncte page on fb this morning. I thought, "that sounds interesting", then I realized I had already read it! Thanks for the awesome and funny stories. I love this blog :)

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  43. Dear Teach,
    You inspire me.

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  44. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

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  45. Night Road by Kristin Hannah. It was the ugliest of the ugly cries. My husband came in the room and thought someone had died. He had never seen me cry that much over anything.

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  46. I was in the second grade when I read the Little House books. I couldn't put them down. One night, after my mother turned off the light, I grabbed a flashlight and kept reading. I read and read until Jack the brindle bull dog died. It was so sad I simply couldn't stay put. I left my room and found my mother, crawled up in her lap, and had a good cry with her. That chapter still gets me every time!

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  47. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

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  48. You are an inspiration. We need more people like you in the world to help our youth blossom and instill confidence at this critical time in their development. Keep up the wonderful work!

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  49. Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller when I was a kid and I'll Love You Forever the first time I read it to my daughter and son.

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  50. A Taste of Blackberries destroyed me.

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  51. A Summer to Die, Lois Lowry's first book, made me cry when I read it in 7th grade. I also remember crying as my fifth grade teacher read us My Brother Sam is Dead. A few years ago I had a class of 11th graders who had failed the state standardized class. I read them the book Night, and could not get through certain parts without breaking down. My special ed aide had to take over for me. I actually think THAT was a good lesson lesson for these kids.

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  52. The Velveteen Rabbit, when I was very young. It moved me in a way that I still can't come to terms with.

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  53. a child called it. btw stop giving away the ending to all the books you mention!

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    1. How can I forget.... and The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave... profoundly moving... and Real life.

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  54. A Taste of Blackberries by Dorris Buchanan Smith. I was 8 or 9 and it just crushed me. I wonder if that's why I cried so hard when I watched "My Girl." I hadn't thought of that before.

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    1. Hoo boy, that one got me in the heart too!

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  55. Writing a letter to your student was a thoughtful way to communicate to him. This is something I do each year with every student I teach. I save it for the stressful time of year when we are getting ready to take the state standardized test in hopes of giving them a boost of confidence along with a shower of affection. Children need to know emotions are allowed to be shown. Kudos to you, teach!

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  56. Belive it or not, couldn't get through The Velveteen Rabbit (the part about becoming "real") when my kids were little!

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  57. Feed by M.T. Anderson made me cry like a baby....

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  58. Black Beauty. I cried and cried and cried. I was eight.

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  59. Love this. Thank you. I plan to share it with staff in the hopes it will elicit similar actions. I can't remember every book that has made me cry, but many many have. One book I've read aloud to my 4th graders, during which my crying became an expected occurrence, was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I can never get through it without shedding tears, and each year my new students are prepared for the waterworks when I mention I'll be reading this book. Another is Ida B, another is Out of the Dust, another is Caddie Woodlawn, and as I said, the list goes on and on…….

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  60. Night by Elie Weisel. My son was born a few weeks earlier and I was reading (out loud) the scene where babies and children were being burned in a large pit. I couldn't contain myself. I had to turn around and try to gather myself but ended up crying as I read aloud. The class was completely silent and didn't know how to react. I had them do a short writing prompt after.

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  61. I loved reading your beautiful post. Fernando was fortunate to have had you as a teacher. And how fortunate for you to have him as your student.

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  62. Your posts are thoughtful, insightful, and sometimes just plain hilarious.

    Thanks! I'm your newest follower on bloglovin.

    Join me on The ESOL Odyssey!

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  63. I'm a school librarian, and I have a Kleenex box. When I check out sad books, like The Fault in our Stars, I give them a Kleenex, telling them they'll need it! They laugh, but they need it.

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  64. 4th Grade: Number the Stars, Also about the Holocaust. I read that book many times. Got to me each and every time.

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  65. I can remember reading Moses to my 4th grade class during Black History Month and I couldn't finish the book, I was crying. My wonderful 4th graders huddled around me and just hugged me and they finished the book for me.

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  66. Maniac Magee. I do it for read aloud every year and I can never finish the last paragraph. I have to ask a student to read it for me.

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  67. Where the Red Fern Grows, which I was reading for my Kid Lit class my senior year of college. I remember that my dad was in the hospital and I spent a lot of time sitting beside him, reading children's literature. This one wasn't a sniffle or a silent, eyes-slowly-fill-up-and-spill-over-tears--slipping-down-your-cheeks-and-dripping-off-your-chin, this was a sob. In fact, I had to put it down because I was disturbing my dad's rest in that hospital bed.

    Then I made the mistake to read "Love That Dog" out loud to my 7th graders without screening the ending. I freaked out some kids that day.

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  68. I don't remember the first book I cried while reading, but the most recent was was yesterday, a graphic novel called Laika. It's about the Soviet cosmodog in Sputnik II.

    Is a spoiler warning still necessary for the historical part of historical fiction?
    I was angry when I read that they were so rushed that they didn't make return flight plans. I cried, sitting in the middle of Starbucks, when I read the control room scene and learned that they hadn't even heat shielded properly. I literally had an hour and fifteen minutes to love this dog, and I was leaking double streams from my eyes and couldn't read the pages for a while.

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  69. Where the Red Ferns Grow is the first that comes to mind.

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  70. I Love You Forever was the first and certainly not the last.

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  71. Bridge to Terabithia.....ugh I sill tear up just thinking about it!

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  72. I cried so hard reading A Virtuous Woman that I couldn't catch my breath to answer the phone. The call was from my fiancé (now husband of 9 years) who was calling from another country!

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  73. I cried so much while reading The Book Thief, but man was my 6 yr old caught off guard when I lost it reading Black Beauty a few weeks ago. (Momma couldn't believe it either.) something about reading aloud can really do you in!

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  74. I can't remember the first book that made me cry, but I Love You Forever is a killer. I could never read it to my own kids without breaking down. I kept my copy to read to my grandkids when they come along, and I guarantee I will cry than too. Last time I read a book and cried I was getting my hair colored. The other women and stylists gave me the strangest looks...

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  75. Shannon RobinsonMay 16, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Not the first book I cried at but another Holocaust related book: Sarah's Key. Unreal.

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  76. "The Pact" by Jodi Picoult or "Push" by Sapphire. I can't remember which one I read first but I still remember my reaction. Big, gasping sobs. I've been choked up after reading but I was a hot mess after reading those.

    I have had Fernando's in my class. I also want to take them home and give them all of the love they deserve.

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  77. Replies
    1. That was mine too! My third grade teacher read it aloud to the class a bit a day, and when she got to that one part... she started crying and couldn't continue for a few minutes. That was so powerful.

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  78. I don't really cry, but I came damn close in "Two Boys Kissing." by David Levithan.

    I did have a teachery question: How do you create the "Love One Another Or I’ll Destroy You" classroom environment? I want that in my classroom so badly but I just can't figure out how to do it without losing it at the kids (which I've found to be unproductive).

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  79. 1st book that made me cry? Probably "Corduroy." I was so upset that the mom wouldn't buy him at first, and then I cried for joy when the little girl came back.

    First book I cried about IN school? Definitely "Where the Red Fern Grows" in the 6th grade. I remember our teacher reading it to us and just BAWLING during class, but so many kids were crying that I didn't feel bad at all.

    Last time I cried in front of my students because of a book? Reading "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" while chaperoning a school trip to St. Louis. Had 60 pages left when the students went in to work with a professor and 15 pages left when they came out. Probably some of the hardest pages I ever read; I had to keep putting my head down to bawl. Had 15 pages left when we hopped back on the bus to go to the Arch. Hopped off (I can't read in vehicles) and sat under a tree to finish. Student after student came up to me to ask if I was ok. Through tears I'd choke out, "It's just SUCH a great book." I'm glad they saw it. It made a few of them want to read it.

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  80. Love Story.

    There were many books that touched me and definitely made me think but Love Story was the first with all out tears, bawling and emotional trauma. I scared my mother to death with how that story affected me.

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  81. I think mine was Little Women. I cried several times, starting with Jo's writings being burned by Amy.

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  82. I honestly don't remember the FIRST book that moved me to tears, but one book I do remember crying during was while reading Anne of the Island when Ruby dies. I had just lost a friend, so the pain that Anne felt was quite familiar at the time.

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  83. Where the Red Fern Grows. Every. Time.

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  84. The Fault in Our Stars

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  85. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, specifically when Fred dies because in Order of the Phoenix Mrs. Weasley confesses that her worst fear is losing one of her children or Harry and then it happens.

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  86. Just came across your blog. I am not a teacher, but I write for a living and I LOVE to read. First book that made me cry was Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance Green. Remember it to this day. Cried like I lost my own sister (who, thankfully is still alive :) ). I couldn't get it out of my head until I read Remembering the Good Times by Richard Peck in junior high about three years later. And I cried for that book too like I lost my best friend (who, thankfully is still alive :) ). Been reading and crying ever since! GREAT blog!

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  87. OH...and for whatever reason I bawled when I read Flowers for Algernon.....

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    1. I cried over that one too.

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  88. That would have to be... Allegiant by Veronica Roth.
    I was in a car driving to our next destination and I was read Allegiant and Tris died and I silently started crying silently and I looked out onto the highway and thought of poor Tobias. Then I made the mistake of listening to OneRepublic's If I Lose Myself - and I had to shove napkins in my mouth so mum and dad wouldn't hear me crying.

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  89. I'd say "Charlotte's Web".....I read this to my Grade Fives and they loved it but I was dreading the moment when I had to read about when Charlotte dies, because a couple of the kids had had Grandparents and parents die and one of my kidlets had lost a Dad to an IED a week or so earlier...There were a few tears but it was a good moment when we bonded a bit more as a class. In the end, I'm glad I chose that book.

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  90. Stone Fox makes me cry every time. I still read it to my class and sniffle as I read THAT part in THAT chapter.

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    1. My daughter and I cried on a train and all the way to school after reading that... as well as ridge to Terabithia

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  91. I don't remember the first book that made me cry, but I can't read "The Littlest Angel" without crying, or "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toumey." I read them both every Christmas and just weep my way through them.

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  92. I cry every year reading Stone Fox to my third graders. Then later when I'm home and telling my husband about how I "did it again," I cry some more because I think about it all over again! Every. Single. Year.

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  93. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. I just had a young child diagnosed with cancer and felt every characters emotion and guilt equally.

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  94. My grandma introduced me to that book 30 years ago. It will always be special to me. I had no idea there was anyone else out there who remembered it.

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  95. The first book that made me cry was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I was in 7th grade and the teacher was reading it aloud in class. I was an avid reader and read ahead (and finished it) on the bus ride home and sobbed. When I called my mom to tell her I was home, she was like "What's wrong?!" I told her and she said that she was sorry that the book made me sad. I almost started crying again the next day when the teacher read the same part at the end; it was a very close thing, with tears brimming my eyes.

    SPOILER!!!!
    One of the more recent books that I've cried at the end of was Wizards at War by Diane Duane (8th in a series) where the dog gives up his life to save his master and the world to defeat evil. IT's heroic and tragic at the same time and I cried and cried and gave my dogs hugs.

    I also cried during Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher because of the entire plot, Awakened (House of Night #8) by P.C. and Kristin Cast because one of the most innocent characters dies in a horrible way, and The Last Song and The Guardian both by Nicholas Sparks because he's a mean author and likes to make his readers cry.

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  96. In this new age tech world we are stuck in... I still prefer an actual book that I can feel as I turn the pages... and thanks to this entry as well as all the comments I have created a reading list to keep me busy from now until then. Thank you all for sharing your favotites... hopefully to become mine too. Many I had read... and cried to... especially most of the Holocaust ones. But I will revisit those old friends with my girls. Thank you again Teach...

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  97. I can't remember the first book I read that brought me to tears but it happens on a relatively regular basis anymore...many of the mentioned books have done it for me. Another book, however, that gets me every time (despite how well I know the story) is Sharon Creech's "Love That Dog"....beautifully simplistic and moving story.

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  98. My most memorable was Sirius Black in Order of the Phoenix... I followed those books lovingly with each book that was published. I remember. I wasn't supposed to read the book yet because my mom was wanting to read it first, but I did anyway when she left to do errands...(I read ubber fast) I cried and I couldn't even tell her why when she got home and saw me upset because I wasn't supposed to read it till after her lol

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  99. Saga of the Wayward Sailor, Tristan Jones- when Tristan's Dog Nelson died and he let him slip of the transom wrapped and weighted- a burial at sea.

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  100. Where the Red Fern Grows

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  101. Where the red fern grows. I was devastated!

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  102. Black Beauty, when Beauty saw Ginger on the knackers cart. It was so sad. I still tear up. I think that book was one of the reasons I felt that animals had (and still do) have feelings. It was al written from the Beauty's point of view.

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  103. Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson. I bought it at a library book sale for 10 cents. Sobbed. Had to put it down, go to bathroom for tissue & blow my nose. My great aunt said it was required reading when she was in school. It got me started reading again.
    As a teacher, I would often choke up when doing read alouds. Kids got used to it.

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  104. In fifth grade I changed classes for reading. The group in my classroom read Where the Red Fern Grows. On the last day, several of us returned to wet desks. I never read that book, but the movie gets me every time.

    The first book that made me cry was Little House on the Prairie after they ford the river and they think Jack was lost in the flood...and I laugh-cried when Jack showed up at their camp later alive and well.

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  105. The first book that made me cry was Aurie's wooden leg by Lionel A Hunt. I don't want to spoil it for anyone if you choose to read it!

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  106. The Devils Arithmetic gets me every time!!! To think that it has been 25 years since I read it the first time. I gave it to my oldest daughter a couple of years ago and we both cried when she got to the end of the book.

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  107. Where the Red Fern Grows. I sat at Wrigley Field and sobbed. Mom insisted on taking me even though I wasn't a baseball fan, so I took a book. I regretted choosing that one.

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