Books, Benches, and Babes


The blistering Texas sun beat down on the playground like an unrelenting drum. The clear June sky subtly reminded everyone that school was almost out.


I paced my usual recess duty path. I heard the usual arguing from the four-square game; I heard the the usual giggles from packs of girls, and I heard the usual clomping footsteps from all the runners. But then I saw something not that usual.

I saw Sam, one of my students, lying on his back on a bench with a book hovering inches above his face. Even the most voracious of readers give up on recess reading by early June. But not him. He was so into his book. The only thing moving were his eyes.

“Good book?” I asked.

“Yessir,” he said without looking up at me.

I walked away. I did not want to interrupt him any further. I know all too well the feeling of trying to read. And I know all too well the feeling of trying to read at recess. I was a recess reader when I was a kid.

On my first day of seventh grade at a new school, I only had my copy of The Outsiders to keep me company at recess. How fitting.

I blew the whistle to line up. I found myself walking beside Sam as we got ready to go inside. He had his book in tow. I looked at him with a wink and said “Don’t worry. You’ll get the babes and make the big bucks later in life- just like me.”

“I”m planning on it, Mr. Stortz!" We both laughed.

Later that afternoon we had some extra recess time. I saw a girl named Maddie relaxing in the shade. After spending a school year with her in my class, I can tell you this girl is smart, funny, and beautiful. Of course her nose was in a book too. I started to walk over to tell her I thought it was cool that she was reading during recess.

As I walked, I noticed Sam on the soccer field. He gave me a little wave. I couldn’t help but think of him and Maddie, and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. Maybe the world will be okay after all.

Photo Credit:

Josh Puetz